Friday, 20 June 2014

Top Tips on Happy Chicken Keeping

This week, I have been spending my time down in the chicken field and out on the lawn taking new photo instructions for our ever popular Long Legged Maggie's Dozen Hen House. As such there is a guest blogger this week, none other than the overseer of the FSF Team, the hen at the top of the pecking order, the queen bee herself, Anne. 

While James is out enjoying himself in the sunshine and managing to find a seemingly endless supply of ice creams to eat while doing his work, I have been left with the job of writing this weeks blog. As I sat suffering writers block and knowing that James will pick up on any incorrect use of their, there and they're as quickly and smugly as possible, I answered the phone to have a long conversation with a lady who has just started keeping some hens in Wiltshire and was looking for a little advice. An idea for my blog entry soon followed, 6 Top Tips on Happy Chicken Keeping

1. Hen Houses - Buy the Best
  • When purchasing your hen house, you get what you pay for. Like most things, its a question of value for money.
  • Everyone will be looking for different things, but ask questions like; Does this hen house have a practical and accessible layout? Will it be easy for me to clean? Is it constructed of quality materials, be it timber or plastic. 
  • Is the hen house sturdy and strong against the elements and most importantly is it fox proof
Flyte so Fancy Chicken Coop
Long Legged Maggie's Hen House
2. Health and Hygiene - Cleanliness is Next to Godliness 
  • To keep your hens healthy and the chicken coop in its best condition, you should ideally be doing a thorough clean weekly. 
  • Make sure that you are changing the bedding weekly, this will avoid the house smelling, dampness and avoid infections. 
  • Use a purpose made hen house cleaner like Poultry Shield and/or a proper poultry disinfectant
  • The best way to avoid future issues is to stay on top of your cleaning regime. Prevention is better than cure. 
3. Feeding your Hens - The Balanced Diet
  • Feed your chickens on a staple diet of layers pellets and mixed corn. This is essential so they get the right balance of vitamins, proteins, etc. 
  • While its nice to see their faces light up, avoid giving them too many treats, they can quickly become fat, which can have repercussions on health and egg laying. 
  •  Avoid feeding them scraps, especially dont feed them meat, dairy, cat food and fruits like pineapple or melon. One common cause of diarrhoea in hens is too many greens and scraps. 
4. Fresh Air - Natures Medicine. 
  • Its good to have somewhere for the hens to shelter from the harsher elements, but make sure that your chicken run is generally light and airy. 
  • Sunlight is needed for egg production, so make sure your girls aren't shrouded in eternal half gloom. 
5. Security - Safe as Houses.
Fox Proof Chicken Coops
Flyte Aviary Hen House
  • Make sure your chicken run is fox proof. Both urban and countryside fox numbers are on the rise.
  • Have a chicken run that is made from a tough galvanised weldmesh, not chicken wire.  
  • Electric fencing is an effective barrier against foxes (and other predators) when used. 
  • No Dig Skirts can stop foxes tunneling into your hen house, while avoiding the appearance of a gulag. 
6. Red Mite - The Pest of Pests. 
  • No matter if you have a perfect weekly cleaning regime, you must stay vigilant for red mite. Sooner or later everyone suffers from this pest but it can be eradicated if caught early. 
  • If you're worried you might have red mite in your chicken coop put some Vaseline on the end of the perches (or even something super sticky like fly paper). As the red mite crawl across they get stuck and you will be able to see them in the morning. 
  • If your chickens suddenly seem reluctant to go in their coop at night, you probably have a red mite issue. 
  • A red mite can go from egg to breeding adult in around seven days, so to break this cycle, clean your coop every five days to make sure you wipe them out. 
  • There are plenty of red mite eradication products like Diatom powder, but do make sure you keep using them to stay on top of the problem.
So, these are my 6 Top Tips on Happy Chicken Keeping. Here at Flyte so Fancy we are always happy to talk if you have a query on our phone number 01300 345229 or via email on or by leaving a comment on the blog. 

Flyte so Fancy Duck Houses
FSF Duck Team Members
James will be back with the blog next week, as I shall take advantage of the lovely Dorset weather for taking photos myself and make him sit inside instead. 

Wishing you Happy Hen Keeping!

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