NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Chickens  (Read 404 times)


  • Joined Mar 2019
« on: March 20, 2019, 05:35:52 pm »
 :chook: Hi all, new small holder  :wave: I would love to get chickens but have no idea where to start or what I need. Also is it possible to not have rats when you have Chickens?  :-\ any help please
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Chickens
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2019, 11:40:47 am »
Posssibly find a breeder near you that has a breed that appeals to you, and ask their advice. Difficult to know where to start but look at local ads on Preloved, or maybe advertise on facebook. When you go, make sure it looks like a professional set up - clean and well managed, and not someone passing on some scruffy stock of unknown origin that they got at a local market.

It's highly likely you'll get rats. But you can put poison down in a secluded place inaccessible to your stock and wild birds. Reduce attractiveness to rats by not leaving food out at night, or buying a "Grandad" feeder.
(Google it!)
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.


  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Chickens
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2019, 02:05:49 pm »
There is an awful lot more to the subject than you first think Oldfarmer. You need to decide why you want chickens then select an appropriate breed and source. You will need adequate safe space and a good coop- there is plenty of rubbish for sale, coming with grossly exaggerated capacity claims. My advice would be to read a lot about it first. Almost all my books (about 20) came from charity shops, problem is just because it is in writing doesn't make it correct! I have a few cheap books that are full of total rubbish, so beware.

Try ordering 'Story's guide to raising chickens' by Gail Damerow. When you've read that you'll be moving on the right lines as it's the best chicken book I have, by a long way. Useful for reference later as you won't remember even half of it.

Rats are a whole new subject. We certainly don't use poison.


  • Joined Oct 2018
Re: Chickens
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2019, 09:15:08 pm »

The main points to cover are as follows:

A quality coop: you get what you pay for. Allow a minimum of 2 to 3 sq feet coop space per bird.  Half that for bantams. Allow one nest for every 4 layers although they seem to all lay in one  ;)

Feed: layers pellets or mash both similar price but mash is better for non free range systems as it takes longer to digest and decreases the chance of bullying etc. Although pellets do reduce wastage and ultimately rodent activity.

The law: by this i mean are you allowed to keep livestock in your area, especially if you are in an urban area. Ask your neighbours how they would feel about you having chickens, as even the hens can make quite a racket when they lay an egg.

Bedding: you can use straw or shavings in the coop and maybe hay in the nest boxes if it remains dry and airy at all times. If it gets wet it will produce fungal spores which can cause aspergillosis which is a very annoying respiratory disease. Whatever you choose keep it fresh and dry.

The run: allow a minimum of 10 sq feet of run space. Less if they will be free range. Use large woodchips (not bark mulch) or large flake shavings for the floor if its a hardstanding. If not then dry soil will be fine. Theres also some rubber chips on the market although I have no experience with them.

Diseases: the main health issues are worms, coccodiosis, mites and lice to name very few

Below is a great website with lots of posts and everything you need to know and helped me a lot.

Good luck  :farmer:


  • Joined Mar 2018
  • Llangwm, North Wales
Re: Chickens
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2019, 10:08:31 pm »
You will always be learning with chicken keeping. Just enjoy the experience and don’t worry too much at first.  Worming and when to is something to be aware of and with rats, it’s about keeping on top of them, don’t leave food out and don’t forget to shut hens in at night.  Try and keep your ground fresh, or rotate hens to different areas if you can.  This is a great time to year to start.


  • Joined Mar 2019
Re: Chickens
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2019, 03:43:12 pm »
Thank you so much for all the wonderful advice, a lot to take on board. We live in a rural setting, no neighbours  :excited:


Rescue chickens with existing chickens

Started by Part time dabbler

Replies: 8
Views: 1720
Last post March 13, 2018, 12:41:42 pm
by Part time dabbler
age to eat chickens

Started by rorsa

Replies: 3
Views: 3778
Last post April 17, 2008, 04:30:22 pm
by rorsa
want to keep chickens

Started by wilf

Replies: 7
Views: 4331
Last post December 14, 2008, 12:22:10 pm
by doganjo
new to chickens

Started by wendyb

Replies: 13
Views: 4895
Last post January 28, 2009, 06:52:21 pm
by doganjo

Started by dopirt

Replies: 2
Views: 2098
Last post February 27, 2009, 12:08:37 pm
by dopirt

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Little Peckers

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2020. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS