Chickens in the garden!
If you’ve got a little space in the garden, owning a couple chickens makes it possible to have fresh eggs at hand at all times.
No need to have a degree as an animal doctor or be a poultry expert to get started!
A home for the chickens
If you’ve already got a garden shed or lean-in, you can use that to house your chickens. What’s important is that your guests will have a dry place that isn’t scoured by drafts of wind to call their own. Include a few roosting rods and nesting boxes with enough space, about one square yard or meter for two chickens. You can also use materials that will block off the worst of the weather: hollow blocks or wood. Design the coop so that disinfecting the floor is easy. Cement is an ideal solution, covered with a thick layer of sawdust or straw to counter the cold. Check that the chicken coop closes well to keep possible predators away.
All right! The hotel is all set up, time to choose your chickens now! Some breeds are famous whereas local ones must be sought after. Best is to check with a breeder in the vicinity who can give you good tips on which breeds are best for laying eggs. If you only want eggs out of your hens, you won’t need any rooster.
Food and feeds
Chickens need space. Ideally, they’ll be set free most of the time for them to free-range. They’ll scratch their way around on their quest for food. They’ll dig up potholes in some parts of the garden to wallow in dust: this helps them get rid of parasites.
If letting them run free isn’t an option, set aside a large swath of garden with a fence for them to run around. Having a lot of space means your chickens will find a lot of insects, worms and plants and you’ll need less feed as a supplement. If your chickens are confined to smaller spaces, you’ll have to provide a balanced diet. Give them your leftovers, old bread, vegetable peelings and bits of lettuce and meat. A family’s worth of leftovers and peels is good for two or three chickens. It’s important that they always have access to clean water. From time to time, throw in a few crushed seashells or seafood shells, it’s a great source of calcium for the eggshells.
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Brown chicken by Sabine Löwer ★ under Pixabay license
Chicken coop & run by Andrea Black ★ under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Chickens on bare ground by Andreas Göllner ★ under Pixabay license