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Getting Started with Chickens in the Garden

by User Not Found | Mar 15, 2013
Guide to getting started with chickens at home

With the evenings getting longer, we are all starting to think about getting back into the garden.  Tending to flowers and plants is so therapeutic and nothing beats the thrill of growing your own food.  Whether it’s herbs, tomatoes or a drill of onions, you can’t beat the flavour of home-grown produce.  And the same can be said for eggs.  The colour and taste of a free range egg are undeniably superior.  If you have been thinking about keeping chickens, now is the perfect time to get started.  I have been a poultry-keeper for many years and I have never once stopped appreciating the wonderful eggs my hens give me.  From the humble fried, poached or scrambled egg to sumptuous omelettes and frittatas, you’ll never go hungry if you have eggs in the kitchen.  When I started keeping chickens, I had no experience at all.  Over the years I learned the hard way and now every Summer I teach people how to successfully keep chickens in their garden.  Chickens are healthy, hardy creatures and if you follow a few basic rules, you too can be collecting the freshest eggs in your back garden. 

If you are considering buying or building a chicken coop, keep this in mind:

  • The coop must be dry at all times, with good ventilation
  • A roosting area is required
  • It should have one or more nest boxes
  • Allow at least 2 square feet per chicken
  • The coop should have easy access to all areas for cleaning
Fiona Dillon from Hunters Lodge Living

If you are building a chicken run, I recommend that you buy the strongest chicken wire that you can afford.  This will allow you the best protection against predators.  Bury the wire at least 18 inches underground to protect against unwanted visitors burrowing under the wire.

Allow some time each weekend to clean out your coop.  It’s important to change the bedding regularly.  Dirty bedding leads to a build-up of ammonia which could cause a respiratory infection in your flock.  Done regularly, this job takes no length of time.

Just like your cats and dogs, hens will benefit from worming and delousing.

Feed your hens with layers pellets – this includes all the nutrients that a laying hen needs.  Scraps from your table are best kept as treats.  Always keep your poultry food in a vermin-proof container.  Chickens can drink up to a half litre of water a day and a fresh supply of water is very important.  Poultry feeders and drinkers are not expensive and are widely available.

Start out with “point-of-lay” hens.  These are usually between 18 and 24 weeks and are just about to lay their first eggs.  With more experience, you can think about adding a rooster, hatching chicks or even rearing birds for the table.  Remember, you don’t need a rooster for a hen to lay eggs (and your neighbours might not appreciate his crowing either!).

A safe clean house, food and water, and a little bit of attention is all that’s required to keep your hens happy – a bit like us really….

For my online booklet on Keeping Chickens visit www.hunterslodgeliving.com.

Fiona Dillon Biog

Food Blogger Fiona Dillon started her blog, Hunters Lodge Living in 2010.  She currently writes for Irish Country Magazine and presents the Breakfast Show on CRKC88.7fm.  Her first book “Food From An Irish Garden”, which documents her back to basics lifestyle, will be in all good bookstores in November 2013.

Poultry Offers, Chicken Feed, Chicken Layers, Chicken Pellets, Call in-store today

If you have a questions for Fiona be sure to comment below, on our Facebook page or Twitter. Many thanks to Fiona for her post. Be sure a check out our current in-store poultry promotions.