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The truth about Hens (from my experience)

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  • About 4 sq foot per bird.




  • Ermmm to start 6-10 ideally (but don't tell my husband, he thinks 6 max :-0)

    I want few decent layers for eggs. But I will definitely be getting some sebrights.




  • Loads of room for 10 in there! We got nest boxes made that are attached to the side and back of a garden shed. Keeps the nest boxes clean, and maximises perching room in the shed. Maybe step several perches from low to high, and provide as much high perch space as you can, as they naturally prefer height at bedtime :)
    We don't have sebrights (we've loads of breeds, but no sebrights :D)... I'm told they can be feisty with other hens though. If you could possibly find someone who hatched the chicks naturally under a hen, I'd guess they'd be less potentially problematic in that department!




  • Would it be OK to keep hens in an urban garden? Thinking south Dublin city, 20 ft by 60 ft.
    Not off a main road but in a quiet suburban estate.
    Would the noise be too much for neighbours?




  • I think, in that situation, I'd have a chat with the neighbours... sound them out. The offer of fresh eggs might help your cause!
    As long as you don't get a rooster, hens aren't desperately noisy. They're chatty alright, and you'll get the daily "REJOICE! I'VE LAID AN EGG" shout out of them, but it's not an unpleasant noise. Well... I don't think it is anyway!
    The golden rule is no fewer than 3 hens.
    A secure, warm, draught-proof shed/coop, with nest boxes and perches.
    Think about predator risk, be that fox, dog, possibly cats, possibly mink or pine martens in some urban areas?
    Think about vermin... treadle feeders are pricey but keep rats (and crows) at bay. Keep feed in a vermin-proof bin.
    Say goodbye to any dreams of a beautiful lawn and/or flower beds :D
    Hens are great though. Way, way smarter than they tend to get credit for too.


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  • Ah DBB! To put it mildly they are little bitches :-) but it's the funniest seeing them trying to boss all the others about even though they are tiny little ****s! But they are gorgeous. And brilliant clockers as well.

    I'll probably try build a house for them myself, on a 8*4ft footprint (if time and money allows). I'll put the nest boxes to the side so it's easy to get the eggs without having to go into the house and also that perch space is maximised and set up in a way that makes it easy to clean. Have you done anything in particular to convert your henhouse?

    Any breeds you could recommend? Generally looking for either a good layer or nice to look at. I love silkies as well, but dad hasn't had any in a long time. I'll start off with whatever I can from him. Chances are I'll get him to source me some sebright eggs and hatch them ourselves under a clocker.

    I also have notions of getting a few ducks, but that won't be something I start thinking about too seriously till we get settled. I want some Indian runners!




  • Perfect if you can get sebright eggs under your own broody hen! To go one step further, we have a very sweet brahma hen (called Michelle... Michelle Obrahma... geddit?! :D:D), who we hatch flighty breeds under, as she teaches them not to be such idiots around us... has worked a treat so far.
    We put lino on the floor of the shed to make it easier to clean. We have perches stepped up from low at the front to high at the back, at both sides and the back of the shed.
    Breeds-wise... if you want good layers that don't tend to go broody... the stunning looking Wyandottes, Barnevelders, Welsummers, any of the Rhode Island hybrids, Rhode Island Reds themselves, and let's not forget the best layer of them all with lovely white eggs... leghorns!
    For unusual eggs, good layers but also very inclined to broodiness, Cream Crested Legbars with their blue-green eggs.




  • Haha! Nice one! It's always good to have a good old reliable clocker. Would you believe that my first memory as a child is of a big white clocker flying in my face coz as a 2 yr old all I wanted to do was pick up a chicken. I still remember her being one of dad's go-tos when he wanted something important hatched!

    Have you added any extra insulation or anything to the shed?

    Thank you so much for those breeds! Where do you pick up hens/chickens of different breeds? The brahma is gorgeous btw! Most of the breeds you've listed look very familiar to what we'd have at home, although they would all be cross bred.




  • No extra insulation, as there are enough birds in there to keep it warm on the coldest night.
    We'd rarely buy birds any more, far preferring to hatch fertile eggs under our clocking hens. We get them via local, trusted breeders, or from breeders on the Irish Fowl website, occasionally from online ad sites.
    But most of what we have are home bred from our own stock. We breed "easter eggers" that lay an olive egg, they're a cross between our french marans rooster, and our legbar hens. Lovely looking black pullets with a silver or bronze cape, they can be sexed as day olds, and they're super clockers!
    We also recently bought a young legbar rooster, so that we can make more legbar hens!
    There's a lad local to us who has beautiful silver laced Wyandotte, we get some eggs from him every year too.
    I really could go on and on :o




  • anyone any experience with bluebelle hybrids? was thinking of adding a few to my flock of isa browns and light sussex.


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  • anyone any experience with bluebelle hybrids? was thinking of adding a few to my flock of isa browns and light sussex.
    They are just another commercial egg layer and were bred to look pretty for backyard keepers simular to Isa Brown and Sussex Ponte.




  • thanks base. think they will do my job fine. kids love the colour of them. i lost a couple hen during the week to neighbours sheepdogs.




  • thanks base. think they will do my job fine. kids love the colour of them. i lost a couple hen during the week to neighbours sheepdogs.
    Your existing flock will bully any new pullets/hens that you introduce so it's important to allow them enough space to escape and roost/perch space at night. It's normal with poultry until the "pecking order" is re-established.

    Best of luck with them and hopefully the neighbours dog is under control.




  • if i get the dog in my garden again il bury him.




  • if i get the dog in my garden again il bury him.
    A couple of strands of electric fence is a good deterrent for dogs and foxes. It won't keep mink, stoats or pine martins out but on the flip side it will teach your children a life long lesson.




  • What material do people use on the ground in a hen run?

    I have read that quarry sand can be dusty and not good for them, and have ordered beach sand in the past. This works well but I'm dubious about dunes somewhere being quarried.

    Any other recommendations?





  • I use miscanthus bedding in mine (Mi-Bed)

    seems absorbent, cheap enough and composts easily - sweep it out and replace it approx every 3 months





  • Lads, has anyone any suggestions of an economical way to get into chickens in terms of infrastructure? I'm planning on getting about 8 hens.

    I'm stuck on what to do with the henhouses. The cheapest option I've looked at is to buy a specific hen house, but they seem poor quality and small for the amount of hens advertised. Building my own would be my preferred option but expensive with the price of timber. Buying a garden shed and converting seems the best alternative, but is it a mad price to drop €500/600 on a shed for hens for a beginner plus the cost of a secure run? I grew up with hens and ducks so have an idea of looking after them/predators etc. But it'll be my first time actually owning some. My husband thinks I'm mad :D





  • I converted an old kids plastic playhouse. Have 4 hens in it. You can pick them up cheap enough on local buy and sell pages, or second hand plastic dog coops. Got a proper wooden coop and it started falling apart within days total waste of money.



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