In June 2018 we adopted 4 chickens through the British Hen Welfare Trust, they are just amazing! As they are mini dinosaurs- velociraptors- we named them Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo, from Jurassic Park World.
They all have their own characters, they run over to you when they are free ranging it in the garden. I understand this is for food, but I like to pretend that its because they love me! They fight off crows if needed and when Lady tries to pounce on their run- she is a little unsure still- they just peck her on the nose!
I researched a lot about the best homes, most practical homes and runs etc. I wanted to make sure that the Chickens wouldn’t become a time burden as we work full time and have the dogs as well. This led me to Omlet, they do plastic hen houses, this seemed practical as they won’t rot in the rainy welsh weather and they will be very easy to clean. The biggest barrier was cost, these are not cheap by any standard!
This led me to trawling ebay looking for a great deal, which was close enough to collect. I actually found the Omlet cube with a 1×3 metre run, and then a 2×2 metre walk in run, for £550 all in, which was an hour away. Expensive- yes, but not comparative to these items new! Another appeal is the fox proof claim, which I have seen videos demonstrating, but also both hubby and I actually like the look of the Omlet setup. Modern and nice, it is also green so blends a little more.
We created a swing, a box which we filled with extra soil for the art of mud bathing, and we got all the Omlet accessories for food and drinks from the folks selling the house and run we bought. I read up a little about chicken enrichment and hung up old CDs, the mud bath box was made from scrap wood we had as was the swing- which they have never used! I also chucked some plastic balls we used for a dog ball pit, just in case!
Initially we were too scared to let the girls have free range time, there are foxes in this area, I have enjoyed watching them! But after discussions, and the run starting to get muddy, we decided that we would do our best to keep them safe, but if the worst happened, I think they would have been happier to have that time out. They are hilarious, I love watching them run around, chasing bugs and scritching around. It has also meant we are paying less for food- which doesnt seem drastically expensive to us anyway- as they are getting a lot of sustanence from the land instead.
The girls came to us looking rough, with feathers missing, as they had been caged for the 18months they had lived so far. Now they look incredible, big fluffy, feathery girls! They are all individuals and funny, watching chickens is great! We donated £5 per chicken, absolute bargain! We get lots of eggs, its winter and we get at least two a day, but mostly, we just wanted to stop these beautiful birds from getting killed just because they are passed ‘optimum’ laying age.
If you are considering getting chickens, stop thinking and do it! We clean out the house once a week- the cube has pull out trays which collect all the poop so this is a five minute job. Water gets topped up once a week and refreshed once a week, grit and food topped up once a week- this all takes less than 20minutes! We have decided we will jet wash the whole thing in Spring this year, it doesn’t need it yet though and as it is plastic this will be very easy and quick!
We bought tarps to cover the top of the runs- one from Aldi has worked really well on the smaller run, but the other two tarps ripped off the walk in run, so we bought three Omlet tarps- so far they have weathered two Welsh storms, so at £90 not cheap but hopefully they will last a very long time. We also extended the run, that was £100, but again, I think it is money well spent! Another thing we spent £150 on, because I am lazy and it makes life easier, is an automatic door opener, it is the best thing ever! The girls are locked away safe when we get home and its dark, plus it means no early mornings on the weekends! Bonus!
I guess one thing about Chickens, is that they can be as expensive or cheap as you like, they are happy with minimum contact or lots of contact, perfect pets! Hubby wasn’t totally sure about chickens, but agreed as I was keen and he likes rescuing animals, he is totally smitten with them now!