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How to keep chickens in your back garden.
How to keep chickens in your back garden most things you need to know and a few things you don't about getting your own humble egg layers.
Transcript: Hi guys, hi girls. Basically I want to give you a run down of the things you need to do if you want to keep chickens in your back garden because it is seriously simple and very rewarding. So all you need to do, get yourself a coop.
These are available on eBay flat pack for about £145. They're really good. They actually have all sorts of things to make cleaning and accessing easier and you want to make those kind of things easy because they're going to be things that you're going be doing day in and day out. Point one: feeding. Firstly you need to feed your chickens a mixed feed. You need to include some grain, some grit, and I always make sure that our feed has peas and things in because effectively some people just give their chickens grain. That's not good because if you give them just grain it's like saying, I've got person living in my back garden, I'm just going to give them toast. It's not very interesting and not very good for their diet. So you've got think about all those things and consider it. Another thing, you can feed them with all sorts of table scraps. Things you shouldn't feed them: you shouldn't feed them egg shells. A lot of people kind of consider giving them egg shells and at one I point I did as well because it actually does help them get calcium in their diet which makes some lay more eggs, which is brilliant, however, if they get a taste for egg shells where you don't break them up enough and they understand that they are eggs, they will begin to see their own eggs as food. That's bad. Other things you can't feed them, you cannot feed them members of the nightshade family such as tomato leaves or potato leaves, I will give them cooked potato and things that's fine. Things to avoid giving them too much, don't give them too much onions or too many tomatoes because acidic things are also quite bad for chickens, but it's not the end of the world if you give them a little bit now and then. They're quite sensible, they'll understand what they're not meant to eat.
In terms of letting them out, if they have a coop this size, you could keep them in a coop this size and just leave them in. I think that's quite unfair. I like to let ours out whenever I can. Effectively I treat them the same way as you would treat a dog. You wouldn't want to leave it locked up all the time, but now and then you can get away with it. Especially at the moment where I have to herd them because they go and eat all my vegetables if I don't attend to them. In terms of health checking the chickens, let me just go and grab one and I'll show you.
Who wants to come for a hug? Yes, just you, thank you. Chill out, chill out.
Right this is how you should hold a chicken. Hands around it, around the wings so it can't flap because if it flaps its going to distress you and the chicken and this way you can actually look at it. You can have a look all the way around you can tip them up, you have a look at the legs. Now this one specifically I grabbed hold of because it's got a little bit of something called scaly leg which the legs are normally a kind of glossy grey colour, whereas this goes a little bit scaly and horrible. Basically this means there's a mite problem. We're currently treating it and it is getting better. So you've got to keep an eye on these things, you've got to get your chickens out and make sure they're healthy. Likewise we can see on the top of their head behind their little red dewlap, you can see it goes a little bit bald when they have mites. So things to keep an eye on. Likewise checking over the feathers, making sure they're nice and glossy and they haven't got any mites in themselves. You can also listen or feel the heartbeat when you're holding it, and the heartbeat should be good and strong and quite fast. Chill out.
So yes, make sure to check your chickens, and if you want to trim their wings, if you open their wings out, these edge feathers here, literally just trim these feathers down with the pair of scissors. Just take all those off. We have done it before but we haven't had an actual issue with them trying to escape so we've not worried about it.
If you want to trim their wings, clip their wings so they can't fly, obviously it makes it a lot safer in the garden so they don't randomly go over your fence and disappear, if you do that, as I say a pair of scissors, just take those leading flight feathers off. There are plenty of video tutorials to do that, I might do one at a later point if people think that's necessary and they want one, but one thing to remember is clipping a chicken's wings is not a painful ordeal for them, it's the equivalent of like trimming their fingernails. So it's not a painful thing so don't worry about that if that's what you think. As you can see in the background, they are merciless omnivores and they will kill anything in their garden if it's small enough to fit in their fat beaks. There I think they've got a slug, but they have been known to eat frogs and even mice. I'm just going to go over there now and shoo them away from my peas. The fantastic thing with chickens is they are actually really good as natural pest control. They keep the slug and the snail numbers in your garden down and they can really also give things a good scratch over. If you dig in your garden, they're really useful. If you turn over the soil slightly, they will get in there and they will turn it over for you. scratch it to pieces and make a really good job, better than a spade. However, they are also increasingly suicidal, they will stick their head under the spade to try and get there, so be aware of suicidal chickens.
Right, another thing to be aware of is how often to feed your chickens. What I've got is I've got a little feed tub here where you just fill the food in there and they can help themselves and you just empty it as and when. Things to be aware of when you're doing this, we had an issue where sparrows were getting inside our coop. That's why we've got this little bund of soil around the edge so the sparrows can't get in. But this is really useful because it means chickens can just help themselves when they're hungry and that means you don't have to worry about giving them a specific amount per day. The same with the water, we've got this big high water hanging here which means they've always got fresh water. That's something to be really aware of because you don't want your chickens to get dehydrated.
Additional things to be aware of, if you want to use the chicken guano as fertilizer, make sure you water it down first because it can be very acidic for your soil and it can damage your plants if you put it on neat.
The chickens in this video, our chickens are Road Rock species of chickens, just so you know and that is pretty much it for this week's episode of Island of Rob, how to keep chickens in your back garden. If you have any other questions or you need any other bits of information to help you with your chickens, please feel free to ask. You can do that by sending me a comment below, you can send a message to my Facebook page and if you found this video useful please feel free to like, share and subscribe.