Chicken questions

Do you keep livestock? Having any problems? Want to talk about it, whether it be sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, bees or llamas, here is your place to discuss.
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Biscombe
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Chicken questions

Post: # 70073Post Biscombe »

We are toying with the idea of getting some chickens, but we would have to keep them in some sort of a pen because I don't want my veggie patch ruined!! This could be quite difficult because of all the trees on the land which the chickens could get into and escape!!!!

Another problem is foxes which are a big problem for chicken keepers in this area! foxes have been know to kill in broad daylight! Someone told me that if you keep a pig in with your chickens, the foxes won't come near! is this true? I've always fancied getting a pot bellied pig so this could be the answer!!

We also have rats that live in our knarled old olive trees, could this also be a problem

What are your thoughts!!?? sorry for all the question!!

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Post: # 70093Post ina »

Don't know whether this is a solution - but my friend keeps a largish number of hens very free range. All her hens (and some cockerels) are Bantams; they are fairly safe from the fox exactly because they fly so well and escape into the trees... She's never reported any harm done to her veggie garden, either.

The only problem is that they tend to lay their eggs into all sorts of places; but she also admits that that could be prevented by being a bit more organised about laying places - block off some of their favourite, inaccessible places, and encourage them to lay where humans can get at the eggs. Some hens are lost every year, but on the other hand, there are always lots of chicks, too (the eggs that she didn't find :roll: ). And the hens couldn't be happier: a very free life, healthy as anything (without great input in food - they basically only eat what they find plus some barley). And lovely eggs... :mrgreen:
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Post: # 70099Post Martin »

I agree about bantams! - splendid little characters, and tough as old boots - for the most part they haven't forgotten they're chickens, and will take to the air when Charlie fox comes calling. :wink:
The other way is to build a "Sussex Ark", which is a henhouse with run attached - you haul it round your patch - they get fresh grass, your garden is safe, and the ground shouldn't get fowl sick ( a real problem with the all-too familiar scratched bare, exhausted "hen run") :cooldude:
something like this (or larger)
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Post: # 70102Post Stonehead »

Nobody has told the foxes around here that they're supposed to steer well clear of pigs. They happily lope through the pig fields.

As for poultry, our Scots Greys still have their feral instincts and happily take to the trees (or the rafters of buildings). The ISA Browns on the other hand, while otherwise good free range birds, tend to huddle up together under the trees.

So while the days are long, the ISA Browns roam outside their very large pen (also giving the ground time to rest), but come the shorter days and hungrier foxes, then the ISA Browns stay in their pen with 2m high netting and electric top and bottom wire. They have 400sq m to play in over winter and they seem happy with that as there's just enough grass to see 10-18 hens right up until the first snow.
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Post: # 70105Post contadino »

Whilst our chicken run has none of our olive trees inside it, there are a couple of almonds. They don't get into them.

As for foxes, we had a family living under an olive on a neighbours land only 50m from our chicken run last year, and they didn't take a single chicken. Our dogs roam free and are sufficient deterrent for the foxes.

Oh, and yes, rats can live in the roots of olive trees, but again, the dogs have seen to them. Our somewhat heavy-footed hound managed to jump up and catch one by the tail last year as it tried to escape into the branches. It was a sight to be seen.

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Post: # 70128Post contadina »

Another plus is that chickens adore olives - they'll happily sort out your windfalls.

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Post: # 70139Post farmerdrea »

Rats are a real problem for chooks here, as they eat both eggs and chicks when they find them. And if we kept our pigs in with our chooks, we'd never get any eggs - pigs adore eggs.

We had foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, weasels, black bears, cougars and bobcats in the woods when we lived in upstate NY. Our poultry flock of over 100 birds was entirely free ranging, except at night, when they were locked into their house, which was totally predator proof (1 inch thick plywood floors and walls, heavy gauge screening on the windows, 2 latches on the door. We only ever lost one bird to a "predator," and that was a neighbour's wandering dog. We lived there for nearly 4 years.

You can do it and still have free-range poultry with predators around, but you need to build a house like a fortress!

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Post: # 72161Post maggienetball »

I thought it may be helpful if I listed some facts about your predators so you know what you may be letting yourself (and the chooks) into.

If foxes are hungry they:
Aren't deterred by any livestock except llamas and alpacas. They don't like vocally agressive dogs but I have seen a fox catch and kill a spaniel.

May kill all of your chickens and take only 1 to eat.
will sit and watch your movements and your defences for days on end until they are comfortable to attack.
Are not deterred by human hair, human urine, radios or even humans if really hungry.

If they are not hungry they may never bother you.

If they are teaching their cubs to hunt (usually April/May) then all of the above applies as chooks are easy targets.

I agree that bantams fend better but that is because they are light bodied birds and can fly quite well. Heavier or standard birds are unlikely to stand a chance.

Unless you are prepared to supply the local foxes with free food and to collect the headless carcasses they leave behind then you need to offer your new chooks a fighting chance.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall did that hen house that was 8 feet high and that seemed to work. He also lists which breeds can handle the climb. That might be an idea worth pursuing.

Rats:
If they get into the hen house at night they may eat the chickens alive or a period of time starting at the vent. Horrible but sadly true.

Will steal eggs and eat chicks leaving only the little legs legs behind.

Most chicken food contains vitament k which is an antidote to most rat poisons so if they're eating your food poisons are not likely to work on them.

Hope I haven't put you off keeping chooks as it is a brilliant thing to do and I have done it for years.

Wherever there's a problem there's usually a solution. The key is to know about as many realistic problems as possible so as not to learn the hard way.

Good luck. Let us know how you get on.

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Post: # 72167Post red »

much that I am a fan of hugh F-W - his chicken house on stilts thing is daft IMO - as foxes do hunt in the day quite regularly - and thats when the hens are running around the field

its worth remembering its not all foxes.. although they always get the blame

twice we had dogs attack and kill our hens when we lived in town - and the hens were in a hen run too.

and once my parents had all of their young ducks, which they had incubated and raised themselves, killed by a badger. They know it was a badger cos he was still stuck in the run when my dad heard the commotion, and he had to let it out..

we have badgers here, have seen them in our garden.. so its badgers I fear at the mo - and they do dig under fences etc.

having said that.. still want to have foxes and badgers in the countryside
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Post: # 72180Post fenwoman »

They don't like vocally agressive dogs but I have seen a fox catch and kill a spaniel.
I am a bit disbelieving about this given that a fox is generally only the size of a domestic cat. What sort of spaniel was it, why didn't it fight back? Why did the fox attack a dog in the first place which is something I have never heard of in 30 years of keeping chickens.
If you saw the spaniel being attacked by the fox, how come you simply stood and watched it all happening without doing something? I can only assume that the spaniel was a very small, old, sick and toothless cavalier king charles in which case the fox would still have had a fair old job actually killing it and you would have had plenty of time to stop it.
H F-W's house is sadly not fox proof no matter what he likes to think.

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Post: # 72195Post Thomzo »

I can confirm that foxes will take a largish dog. As a child I witnessed a fox savage a full grown and quite able Bedlington Terrier. My mother waded in and separated them but it took a long while. The terrier was badly wounded and would definitely have died if we hadn't got there in time.

The foxes round here are fairly big. About the size of an medium dog. I think it must be the rich pickings in an urban environment.

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Post: # 72196Post maggienetball »

I'm not sure whether I should be insulted by your disbelief of my comments, your disregard for my opinion, your pre-judgement of me (standing by and not doing anything), or the other conceited, self assured comments that I have read from you today. Do you always give everyone the third degree over their posts or is it just me?

I read the rules of the forum before I joined and was under the impression that every viewpoint counted and that we were to treat each other with respect. I have been a member of other forums for some time and have always had my comments welcomed and have never been openly criticised, judged, or disbelieved in such a way before. I don't find your comments respectful.

I am shocked at the way you are responding to my posts. Is this the way newbies are usually greeted?

For clarity

It was a Cavalier Spaniel in the local dog walking woods. It was ahead of me on the track with it's owner. My husband and I saw the fox as clear as day as did the owner. It knocked the spaniel down the bank and was gone with it. We helped the owner search and give chase but did not find it.

This May, in our local paper, there were also several other disappearances of small dogs in the same woods, to such a degree that the rspca put out notices.

Of course as you have never heard of such a thing it must never have happened.

Apologies everyone for ruining the thread of Biscombe's post.

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Post: # 72197Post Thomzo »

Hi Maggienetball.

Our posts coincided. Please don't worry, you haven't ruined anything.

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Post: # 72210Post Annpan »

Foxes in Glasgow are also really big, and they are vicious... I have been warned to stay away from urban foxes if they have to come out to hunt in the day time, as it means that they are hungry and would take food from your hand :shock:

Foxes attaking peoples pets in the woods doesn't bear thinking about :(
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Post: # 72223Post fenwoman »

maggienetball wrote:I'm not sure whether I should be insulted by your disbelief of my comments, your disregard for my opinion, your pre-judgement of me (standing by and not doing anything), or the other conceited, self assured comments that I have read from you today. Do you always give everyone the third degree over their posts or is it just me?

I read the rules of the forum before I joined and was under the impression that every viewpoint counted and that we were to treat each other with respect. I have been a member of other forums for some time and have always had my comments welcomed and have never been openly criticised, judged, or disbelieved in such a way before. I don't find your comments respectful.

I am shocked at the way you are responding to my posts. Is this the way newbies are usually greeted?
I am dismayed that my simple response to your post expressing disbelief has caused you to suffer 'shock, insult, horror and any number of negative emotions. It must make life very hard for you if you suffer all these negative emotions in life when someone expresses doubt or disbelief in something you might say during a conversation with you. Had you mentioned this problem beforehand I would not have even replied to your post on the subject as I don't have the skills or inclination to deal with people's emotional problems.
rity

It was a Cavalier Spaniel in the local dog walking woods. It was ahead of me on the track with it's owner. My husband and I saw the fox as clear as day as did the owner. It knocked the spaniel down the bank and was gone with it. We helped the owner search and give chase but did not find it.

This May, in our local paper, there were also several other disappearances of small dogs in the same woods, to such a degree that the rspca put out notices.
thank you for your clarification. That's all that was required, not weeping, wailing, hair pulling and browbeating simply because I said that I found it hard to believe that a small animal the size of a large cat would attack and kill another carnivore the same size if not bigger than itself (I breed cavaliers and they would easily tackle a fox and come off best).
se as you have never heard of such a thing it must never have happened.
I have never found sarcasm to be a particularly attractive trait. Isn't it recognised to be the lowest form of wit?
Apologies everyone for ruining the thread of Biscombe's post.
Apology accepted. Perhaps in future you can post and respond to others posts which may sometimes disagree with your view, without the theatrical, hysterical outpourings of outrage, shock horror and all the rest. It makes for a much more interesting forum where points are debated , different views given and everyone has their say. As long as no direct insults are thrown about and nobody uses bad language or makes an attack then debate and contrary opinions are perfectly healthy surely?

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