Hello from South London

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fbo1980
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Hello from South London

Post by fbo1980 »

Hi everyone my name is Fiona my husband and I are adopting 4 chickens for a garden coop. Really looking forward to being a part of this forum and already finding some fantastic info on here! Thanks folks x


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Marigold
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Re: Hello from South London

Post by Marigold »

Hi Fiona! A big welcome to the Forum. We’re looking forward to hearing more about your plans. What kind of hens are you hoping to get?
fbo1980
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Hello from South London

Post by fbo1980 »

Hi Marigold thanks for your reply. We are not really sure about breeds. We have never had hens before so hoping to research which ones are good first timers to get.


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Marigold
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Re: Hello from South London

Post by Marigold »

Have you researched sellers in your area, Fiona? Most people start off getting hybrids at point of lay, (pol) which means young pullets between 16-20 weeks that are expected to come into lay between 20-25 weeks. At this time of year, if you leave it for more than a month they may not come into lay until the New Year because by the autumn, declining light levels will be insufficient to stimulate egglaying hormones. But if you can get them ASAP, by the middle of September, they should lay by the end of October and then will go on all winter.
Most hybrids are commercially hatched and reared to pol and are fully vaccinated against common chicken diseases during this time. Many of them go on to join large commercial flocks as egglayers but some lucky ones are sold on to smaller sellers who can usually offer a variety to people like us who want a few garden hens. It’s possible to buy several different breeds, which will lay various colours of eggs if you take advice from the seller, which is attractive and if you can tell them apart you know which hen is actually laying. Hybrids are often a good choice for first time keepers as they are vaccinated, will be likely to come from an environment where biosecurity has been good, and are less expensive than purebreds from people who breed their own and may not vaccinate. Many people think it’s best not to mix vaccinated and unvaccinated birds.
The other choice is for rescues, 18-month-old ex-battery hens who still have some laying potential left, but would otherwise be culled because egg production is dropping off after their second season. These will be lovely cuddly brown hens, docile and affectionate, excellent pets, and the feelgood factor of saving them is high. They should lay quite well for a while - but be prepared for thin shells and possibly egg laying problems down the line, such as prolapse or peritonitis caused by their extremely productive early history.
Whatever you choose, you will get fascinating girls who will take up a lot of your spare time just watching them. Chicken behaviour is endlessly interesting, each hen has her own personality, and if you just sit still and quiet and watch, a new world of interaction and politics opens up under your eyes. Have a good read of the threads on housing, feeding etc, and do let us know how you’re getting on.
fbo1980
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Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2020 8:11 am

Re: Hello from South London

Post by fbo1980 »

Thanks so much for all the advice. That’s really helpful. I hadn’t considered the change of seasons. I’ll update with pics as soon as they arrive I have my name down with a breeder but also still deciding whether to get rescue chickens.


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Marigold
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Re: Hello from South London

Post by Marigold »

We’ve discussed this before - eg have a look at p.2 of this thread, from someone else starting out on their first chickens. Whether to choose pol hybrids or rescues is a personal decision, but it’s good to hear all sides about possible advantages and disadvantages from people who have tried both and been happy with their decision.
viewtopic.php?t=11013&start=10
Icemaiden
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Re: Hello from South London

Post by Icemaiden »

I always recommend ex-batts (rescue hens) from organisations such as the British hen welfare Trust. If you want hens that'll lay eggs with different colours of shell though, Surbiton Poultry used to come recommended.

Does anyone on here know if they're still a good company to buy hens from?
Chickens are a girl's best friend (though diamonds would be nice too!)
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