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Wanting to start keeping hens

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  • #46
    So hopefully me putting them into their house on the perches learns them. Tonight will be the 3rd night. 1 has all ready started to take herself away. The others are starting to stay on the perches so i am hoping things are heading in the right direction.

    I had an interesting conversation with my plot neighbour. He was telling me it is all ways better to have a cockerel as it keeps them in a group better. Not sure how much of that i believe mind. Mine seem to be quite happy being all girls.

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    • #47
      The only time I had a cockerel was by accident!

      A Silkie chicken had been dumped in the woods nearby and I spent 2 days, enticing it with food, until it came close enough for me to catch.
      I brought it home and put it in with my hens. It was a beautiful bird, white with feathers like fur and for a week or so, all was well.
      Early one morning, there was this strange noise, like something being strangled and gasping for breath. It was the Silkie and he was a cockerel!
      The neighbours accepted his strange morning cry but, one awful day, a fox came and took him and several of the hens. I think Mr Silkie went down fighting as there were feathers all over the place, whilst, of the hens, there was no trace.

      This has no relevance to your neighbour's statement, but, I've never had a cockerel again and my chooks don't seem to have noticed.

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      • #48
        I've always kept cockerels as I liked to hatch my own birds - until the last year or two when I just had girls. It honestly made no difference what's so ever.
        Last edited by Scarlet; 13-06-2019, 08:04 PM.

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        • #49
          Yep. No positive difference.

          Negatives are the noise (at all times of day - not just morning).

          And then being overly amorous with the hens.

          And one of ours attacked our daughter when she was 2. Luckily she was in a big padded romper suit so didn’t even notice. If it had been summer it would have been a different story!

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          • #50
            Hmm, yes. I had one seriously nasty cockerel, that attacked a few times before I got rid of him. It's really quite scary. Though my turkey stag turned after a few years - I could only go in the pen while holding a dustbin lid on my back, cos the minute I turned my back he would attack.
            When people hatch their own and then find they can't give away the boys they don't always realise that they can be very aggressive as they get older.
            Last edited by Scarlet; 14-06-2019, 12:06 PM.

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            • #51
              From what I've read the only advantage to having a cockerel in with the girls (other than being able to breed your own birds) is that there will be less squabbling amongst the girls as the cockerels keep order.


              Mine will be up on the allotment (where a few other plot holders have cockerels) and at times I think it might be nice to have a handsome male bird too BUT then I start worrying about him harassing the girls and damaging their feathers with constant mounting and him turning a bit stroppy with us! I think I'll stick to the original plan to have four or five spoilt-rotten pampered ladies instead
              Last edited by Gillykat; 15-06-2019, 11:24 PM.
              If I'm not on the Grapevine I can usually be found here!....https://www.thecomfreypatch.co.uk/

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              • #52
                I think I will just stick to my girls to be honest despite other plot holders trying to convince me otherwise.

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                • #53
                  Soooooo. The girls have been settling in for just over a week now. Every night encouraged or put in their house at the same time every night at around 22:00 which here up in South East Northumberland is pretty dark at that time.

                  Last night was my first night shift. I went this morning to have a look out of couriosity to see if they had taken themselves to bed before the door sensor shut. Only 1 out of the 6 had the sense! The other 5 were out scratching about. The run is pretty secure. Other plot neighbours have their hen house doors open all the time into their runs. Am I being over anxious that my girls are not taking themselves to bed and out of harm's way?

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                  • #54
                    Overanxious?....nope. You just want the best for your gals.
                    Keep persevering when you can.
                    Thing is, things don't always work out as ideal as we would want and you have to accept the nearest best thing.
                    If your enclosure is very much more secure than any of your neighbour's, then a fox is more likely to go for the easier option (i.e. Your neighbour's chooks)
                    You do need to do the best you can for your gals....within your best limitations...you owe it to them
                    When we were away for 2weeks we came back to one of our new gals roosting in a nearby tree!.I get the feeling she'd been accidentally not given enough time to go to bed with the others. Took about a week of placing her indoors fir her to get the hang of it again.
                    Do persist...maybe have the automatic door closing a bit later too to give them a bit more of a chance?
                    Last edited by Nicos; 18-06-2019, 07:14 AM.
                    "Nicos, Queen of Gooooogle" and... GYO's own Miss Marple

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                    • #55
                      Hello. It is me again (yes I know yet another question). Just been to the allotment and was having a cup of tea watching the girls in their run and saw one chasing away.............a rat! Now I am keeping things tidy. Bags of food etc in a sealed heavy duty plastic clip top box. The feeder is suspended about 6" from the ground and I make as little mess as I can. But if a rat was looking in it will try to get in the run. How do I control them? I am worried if I use poison a poisoned rat could get in the run and the girls could then get poisoned? Snap traps? Messy but not sure how good they are with rats. Advice needed please as I don't want them any where near my girls.

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                      • #56
                        I used to use a suspended feeder but found that there was spillage when the girls ate from it. A treadle feeder is better, Doesn't stop the rats but there's less temptation if they can't get to the feed.

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                        • #57
                          And if other plot holders aren’t as tidy with their chickens there will be rats elsewhere on the plot.... who will pop over to say hello to your plot...

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                          • #58
                            So a bit progress last night. Went to put them to bed and they had took themselves away and all I had to do is close the door. One thing I did notice was none of them were using the perches in the house but I am sure that will come.

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                            • #59
                              I find that they're way easier in winter when it cools down a bit. Then they can't wait to get inside and snuggle up next each other on the perchs for warmth. A the moment, i'm sure it feels a bit hot and stuffy in there!

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                              • #60
                                So I have had my 6 girls now for over a month. They have all settled in well getting on average 4 eggs a day. I noticed that pecking was begining to be an issue. I let it go to start thinking it was them getting the order of things sorted. Well 4 of them have sorted themselves out but the remaining 2 seem to be being bullied. 1 more so. I have tried anti peck spray and I am now trying a different one. I am worried as she is the smallest and the missing feathers is quite noticeable. Other than continuing with the spray is there anything else I can do? I am worried that if it continues the hen will really start to suffer.

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