When I was small, one of my favourite jobs was helping my Grandad Lowe to garden. Not particularly because I liked gardening, but because I loved digging and turning over the soil in the spring. Why? Because my Grandad’s brown warren chickens would come to search for worms and bugs. Though a little competitive, they were just so happy, watching what my Grandad’s next spadeful would produce and then scratching around in the loose soil to see what other goodies they could find.
Once we had planted the vegetable patch, the girls were kept to their run as they would have wreaked havoc on any seedlings. However, I still had the job of giving them any weeds I found or any leftover produce. They would come running across to see what I had for them, with that silly run that only chickens can do.
Over the years, whenever possible, I have always had chickens. Sometimes a few and sometimes a lot. Sometimes very smart pure breeds, sometimes great egg-laying crosses and sometimes rescue ones. Nothing beats a fresh egg from your very own flock.
And the bonus is that they can be really pet-like. Chickens are happy to see you and come over whenever you appear; they will chat to you with that lovely clucking sound. They are happy to eat from your hand and like nothing more than a nice stroke, even to be held gently and cuddled.
Tips and Tricks to Keep Some Chicks!
Anybody with a garden can keep chickens (never keep just one) so how can you do it?
- They will need a place indoors to sleep at night and lay their eggs during the day. There are lots of designs and makes and models available. Choose one not too big (this saves the chickens from getting cold when there is too much space) and one that suits where you want to position it.
- Add a run as you don’t always want them loose in your garden; think during a family BBQ! They would quite definitely join in. A small one if you intend to have them loose or a bigger one if they are likely to be in there most of the time.
- Consider being able to move the house and run if the ground becomes overused and bare.
- Have a rat-proof container somewhere dry for their grain (plastic won’t work! I know!).
- Chickens love a dust bath. It’s such fun and also helps clean below the feathers. Make sure there is an easily-accessible water container.
- If loose in the garden and the fences aren’t high, you will need to clip a wing (it’s not complicated or painful) or consider bantams (small chickens) instead.
- Make sure they are locked up at night, or else a local fox or badger might call.
- Just research your breeds or buy a few rescue battery hens and have some fun and some tasty eggs.
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