Things You Should Know Before Getting Chickens
If you are reading this you are probably looking into the possibility of getting your own chickens. Chickens can be rewarding creatures to own, people getting them for pets, people get them for their eggs, personally we own our chickens for pets but with the added bonus of eggs. We love nothing more than enjoying the freshest of eggs, knowing what foods our chickens have been enjoying and they are happy and healthy.
But less about me chirping on about the warm, fuzzy and nice side of owning chickens. Here are some of the other nitty-gritty issues with owning chickens which you may not have considered or been told about.
What Does Point-Of-Lay Mean?
If you are looking to purchase some hens but come across the term point-of-lay, here’s what it means. Point-of-lay means the hens are reaching maturity, getting ready to lay their first eggs. Hens are usually sold from about 16 weeks of age and classed as point-of-lay but you could be waiting another 4-6(ish) weeks for your first egg. But in the meantime, you could use the time to build a relationship with your new residents, get to know their likes and dislikes and get them use to human interaction.
Chickens at times (but only for a very small amount of the day) can be a bit noisy. This usually only equates to the mornings when they lay their egg. Nicknamed the “laying song”, your hens can be heard for a couple of gardens away if you live in a residential area. Again, this doesn’t last long and then peace has been swiftly restored. It’s no worse than a dog barking in contrast.
Chickens do come with a slight odour, there is no denying this fact. They poop in their run, in their coop, on your knee if they are enjoying a good fuss or even in your house if they are having a free-roaming day and make it into your home. If they need to go, they will go. So naturally, they have a slight pong about them, especially in the warm summer months. But adopting a good daily cleaning routine, clearing up poop in the run and coop really does help keep the smell at bay.
Chickens love nothing more than having a good bathing session, and I’m not talking with soapy, bubbles and water. I mean a dust bath. Dust bathing is a chickens favourite daily routine, sitting down on the ground, flicking dust up, into their feathers and spreading out. If you listen carefully enough them this is happening you can hear a happy chirp/purring. They just love it!
When I first got my hens I tried to be super organised and provided them an empty low level plant pot for them to use as a bather but they turned their beaks up at it and opted to use the pen floor instead. Meanwhile other chicken owners I know have reported upturned flower displays which have been ruined by their hens in their attempts to dust bathe. Chickens will bathe in the most unpredictable of places and it may come at a price of a ruined flower display or patch of grass, you have been warned.
They love fuss
Some breeds, not all absolutely relish on a good fussing with humans. Take Bella for instance, our Speckledy, she just loves human interaction with my daughter being the main fuss giver. Bella has enjoyed being carried, hand fed snacks, jumped on the trampoline with my daughter and even sat at the garden table watching Netflix on the iPad.
Then on the other hand, one of our newest additions Fillet, our Milleflure Leghorn really isn’t for human interaction at all and prefers to just be left alone in the company of her “sisters”.
You Don’t Need A Cockerel
Now, I say this but there is only one reason why you may NEED a cockerel. And thats only if your intending to breed more chickens. Other than this, you do not need a cockerel. If you are unsure right now if you want to breed more chickens or not in the future don’t panic, a cockerel can be added at any time to your flock. So if fertile eggs aren’t something you are considering right now then don’t worry about getting a cockerel.
Plus, cockerels ARE noisy!
Having The Right Size Coop And Run
Chickens need space to roam and move around. So providing as much space as possible per hen is ideal. But if you only own a small back-garden (like we do) you will want to limit your numbers. We have 5 hens, that live in an outdoor run area of around 40 square foot and whilst in the coop, they have around 10 square foot of space. This is recommended as an absolute maximum as not providing enough space for chickens can result in stress and pecking within your flock.
When your hens begin laying you will instantly be excited, bring your new eggs into the home and want to display your home free range eggs. It’ll all be very exciting. But there are two bits of advise I want to share;
Egg’s don’t need to be washed. I know you will want to display your pristine clean eggs for all to see but apparently this can damage the outer membrane of the egg. It’s recommended you wash your eggs prior to using them instead. The outer membrane is formally known as the ‘Bloom’, this prevents air and bacteria from entering the egg through the pores in the shell. Washing with warm water prior to use is recommended.
Eggs also don’t need storing in the refrigerator. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re not in the habit of using your eggs for a number of weeks then popping them in the refrigerator is probably best. But if your house is like mine an egg doesn’t see out a week you can easily store them at room temperature for around 2 weeks.
Hens Don’t Lay All Year Round
This is fact and many aspects can result in low egg production within your flock. For example;
Winter: Naturally winter is cold, and your hens bodies work at a different rate during the colder months to preserve heat and health. This works against their egg production rate so eggs will be less during these months. Whereas during the warmer months hens don’t need to work so hard to preserve heat and their bodies work at producing more eggs.
Stress: If you hen is stressed or poorly egg production will be affected. Egg condition being a main indicator, eggs could be soft shelled, odd shaped or production less or stopped all together.
Clip Their Wings
If your chickens are going to predominately free roam, or live in an outdoor pen with no roof protection you may need to consider clipping their wings. They can jump rather well and also have a small level of flight ability which at a push can see them jump a fence (speaking from experience here).
If you are still considering getting chickens, or decided chickens are the way to go be sure to check out our list of recommendations when it comes to supplies for your new arrivals.
Thank you for reading.
**This is not a paid post its purely for information only based on my own experiences as a chicken owner.