Have you ever thought about getting chickens as pets before?
We had been seriously considering it for the last few years, although never actually having any first hand experience of them, we’ve just thought they just seem like fascinating creatures. It was only when I had the opportunity to get up close to chickens and get involved in their care at work that made me actually think, yes we can do this!
Roll on four months – the walk in run was all set up and ready with toys, Perches, a swing and other forms of enrichment. After lots of research and learning, we had decided on the breeds of chickens we were going to get and had found a breeder on recommendation from a friend, we just needed to wait for the day that was arranged for us to collect them. You can find some of the products we bought here https://www.omlet.co.uk/shop/chicken_keeping/#
This paragraph may be tough reading: Now, if I were an experienced chicken keeper/owner I honestly think I would have preferred to rescue hens. There are so many chickens purely bred to produce eggs for supermarkets. The sad fact of these are that they may not be kept in a nice environment and once they are not laying the optimum amount of eggs, they are no longer needed. Hens that are commercially bred for eggs are sent to slaughter at just 72 weeks because the amount of eggs they lay has dropped. 72 weeks!! That’s only about 16 months old! So some of these poor hens are rescued by charities and then rehomed by chicken owners, who will left them live out their retirement enjoying treats and some freedom, having space to flap their wings which is something they probably haven’t experienced before. The reason we have not rescued hens for now is because a lot of these poor hens may have health problems that I don’t feel experienced enough to deal with. I definitely would get hens from a rescue once I am more confident though. How could we not?
We decided to buy a couple of cardboard pet carriers, thinking these could be re-used at a later date, if we decided to get any more. Bringing home four chickens in two cardboard carriers on the back seat of the car was an eye-opener, despite me holding the boxes, the poor things were scrabbling around all over the place every time we went round a bend. In hindsight perhaps it would have been better to put something in the box that they could grip hold of.
We were advised to put the boxes into the chicken coop and just leave them so that they would realise this was their new home. I had previously read that you can leave them for 24 hours but the breeders said about half an hour would be ok. It’s funny how different peoples opinions are on different things isn’t it? Even when they are experts. Anyhow we decided we would opt for somewhere in between. Oh and in case you wondered, there is no way that the boxes can be used again – one thing I have found out is that chickens create a lot of mess – a whole lot of mess!
We got the little chooks home and put their carrying boxes in the coop and patiently (but kind of not really patiently) waited. And waited. And waited. By the end of Saturday it was clear that they were quite content in their new home and actually didn’t really fancy any fresh air after all.
Day 2, Sunday. I opened the door of the coop. I expected our lovely little feathered friends to think “Woo hoo freedom, let’s get out in the fresh air and have some fun!” In reality I think they thought “hmm it’s quite cosy in this new house, I think we will stay here so no one else gets their claws under the table…” I don’t blame them for wanting to stay inside their house
A few hours later I decided to intervene slightly. After unsuccessfully trying to entice them out with corn, I picked one of the girls up and carried her round to the walk-in run. Well would you believe it, literally before you could say chickedy do, the other three came bumbling down the ladder so they didn’t feel like they were missing out on anything!
Update: It’s been a week now and you’d think we’d had them forever. Our four girls, Daisy, Jemima, Polly and Bluebell spend their days scratching around in their run, jumping up on their perches and rolling around in the compost we’ve popped in as a dust-bath, they also enjoy taking food from our hands. If they are in their house they come down when I call them and they’ve mastered the ladder no problem too – although not always in the most dainty way.
Next time I’ll let you know the things I’ve discovered about chicken keeping that I definitely didn’t know before!
Have you ever kept chickens? Do you have any tips for me please?