Hello from mid-Wales

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Hello from mid-Wales

Postby ColinB » Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:41 pm

Hello all,

We moved out to deepest, darkest Wales at the beginning of this year to get away from the rat-race of the South-East and chill out growing fruit and veg... and keeping chickens. I've cleared an area of Lily-of-the-Valley (horrible stuff, and took two trips to the tip with a full Transit van of root mass) so they'll have plenty of space (~25m2) to scratch around under the trees, in the shrubs and by the log pile, and I've got a coop on order. I'm going to put that up on a stand so there will be shelter underneath... and then get four girls to go in it. That should be enough to supply us two (plus Tufnell the Dog) with plenty of eggy goodness.

I'm hoping not to be too much of a nuisance, but I'm sure there'll be some questions that I can't find answers to elsewhere. There seems to be so much conflicting advice on t'interweb that it makes my head spin. :-)07

Thanks
Col
Col
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Re: Hello from mid-Wales

Postby chickenfan » Fri Jul 29, 2016 10:05 pm

Hello Col and welcome to the forum. How lovely moving to mid-Wales - one of my favourite parts of the world - to grow veg and keep chickens. We will really look forward to hearing about your plans.
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Re: Hello from mid-Wales

Postby Marigold » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:38 am

Hi Col and welcome from me, too. I agree about conflicting advice on the Internet, on chicken keeping as with everything else. At least on here we're a group of keepers who love our birds and try to just exchange actual experiences of what works, and what doesn't!
Did you notice the links to to the main Poultrykeeper website, at the bottom if each Forum page? Pretty reliable stuff on there, helpful for lots of aspects of poultry keeping.
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Re: Hello from mid-Wales

Postby ColinB » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:04 pm

Thank you for your welcomes.

I found the forum through the main Poultrykeeper web-site. That seemed like a sensible, no nonsence site and browsing the forum it looked friendly and informative, so I thought I'd join up.

This is the area I've cleared for the chickens, I just need to get the coop and run area levelled, and a fence sorted out.

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Re: Hello from mid-Wales

Postby Marigold » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:48 pm

That looks lovely. How big a run can you make? The absolute minimum for 4 birds would be 8sq. metres floor space, but bigger is better if you can manage it, not only as hens do better with plenty of space, but to allow for the inevitability of your being infected with Morehens Dusease in the future. (Rick has it badly at the moment, poor man, see his thread about Nankin Bantams!)
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Re: Hello from mid-Wales

Postby rick » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:02 pm

Hi Col,
It's perhaps good to have some constraints or it could get crazy! For some birds 2 Sq M each is fine but the closer it gets to capacity the more inventive and efficient you have to be to keep on top of things. Inevitably you have some spare bowls, rake, a cover for a quarantine enclosure, poop bucket etc and and your having difficulty arranging stuff. More space (pref covered) is always easier and better.
Oh, and a dust bath! A really handy thing I've found is a hatch where you can put down food, cabbage, washed drinkers, etc and then access from the other side rather than trying to get through a self closing door with arms full of kit!
Wales is lovely. Almost went many years ago but big commitment to the new lifestyle.
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Re: Hello from mid-Wales

Postby ColinB » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:13 pm

Excellent ideas already - thanks. The chickens will have free-range access to all that area with a covered run of ~4m2 (includidng under the coop) for when they want shelter (it is Wales, after all). If you think a bigger run would be better then that's exactly why I joined - to get good advice.
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Re: Hello from mid-Wales

Postby Marigold » Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:14 pm

The smaller the run, the larger the proportion of the floor space that's taken up with feeder, drinker, dustbath etc, plus the circulation space needed around each of these. You need to plan for an area where you can segregate new birds, or injured or sick birds, I.e. It's good to have a way of screening off part of the run temporarily when necessary, whilst still leaving enough space for the rest of them. A roof is really worthwhile, stops it all getting muddy and messy in the Welsh rainy winters. Chickens hate wind and rain, so protection is really good. My roof is clear corrugated plastic, (Rick has a beautiful tiled one) and most of us with covered runs use Aubiose (shredded hemp stems sold for horse bedding) on the floor and in the coop and nestboxes, as it's highly sbsorbent, doesn't go mouldy like woodchip, makes poo picking very easy and is warm, soft and pleasant for the birds. Chickens are often quite nasty to each other, and if space is insufficient you could get feather pecking, bullying, boredom and other problems. Nobody ever says 'I wish I'd made a smaller run!'
It's also good to give them some long perches made from 2"x2" timber with edges sanded down, as they love to sit companionably and look out on the world outside,
I'm going to move this thread to General Chickens, O.K? Please reply on that section after this.
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Re: Hello from mid-Wales

Postby rick » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:51 pm

4m2 (= 16sq metres) of covered, secure run is stacks of room for 4 hens, especially if they can come out to forage from time to time. They could stay in the covered run for weeks with no lack of space - which is ideal and maybe necessary if the dreaded fox clan are passing through!
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Re: Hello from mid-Wales

Postby ColinB » Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:55 am

Thanks peeps. I'll make the covered run area as big as I can in the space available, but they'll have constant access to 25sq meters of foraging space which has lots of shade and will have a few constructed covered areas dotted around. Dust baths are easy in this area of the garden... it's sheltered on three sides, and some of it from above, courtesy of some big trees in the copse next door.

Mr Fox doesn't get a look in round here. We're right in the middle of sheep farming country and if a fox puts his nose anywhere near here then the shotguns are out. One of our neighbours down the farm track keeps lots of chickens, geese and ducks with no fox proofing at all and has absolutely no problems.

A quick question.... we've got stock fencing and hawthorn hedges around the garden, will a 4" x 4" fence mesh allow medium sized hens through (RIR, speckeldy, bluebell size)?

Thanks all.
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