Getting mites in your coop is pretty heart breaking, your poor hens will be itchy and uncomfortable. Red Mites along with other mites live on the bird but can

Chickens are becoming increasingly popular as pets in the UK as they are fairly easy to look after, have tremendous personalities and also give a little something back in the form of delicious eggs. We love every chicken we raise on our farm and want to make sure that each home they go to has a good idea of the best way of looking after our beautiful chickens. We are able to give you advice in person or via phone or email to make sure your chickens stay healthy and happy.

Before You Buy Chickens

It is important to get to grips with some basic facts about keeping chickens before rushing out and buying them. Chickens require attention every day, much like any other household pet. You should of course consider the size of your garden and whether it is suited to keeping chickens. Keep in mind, where are they going to sleep, where they will be allowed to roam, how to keep them fed and watered if you are way for a period of time and how to keep them safe from foxes and other potential predators. Once you have decided that keeping chickens is definitely something you would like to do then preparing their habitat before they arrive is important.

Buying a chicken house

This is likely to be the most expensive outlay for keeping your chickens and there are many different sizes and designs on the market available for you to purchase. It is often a case of getting what you pay for and cheaper houses will require regular wood treatments and other maintenance to ensure they are kept in good condition for keeping your chickens safe and warm inside. When purchasing a chicken coop inspect the quality and thickness of the wood which is a good indication of how long the coop will last. It is also possible to build your own coop, if you are so inclined. You should also check the coop has nest boxes, appropriate ventilation and perches for the birds to roost but also keep in mind the box will require regular cleaning and maintenance. And access should be easy for you to do this. The floor of the house can be covered in wood shavings, straw or chopped cardboard to keep the birds warm.

Chicken Access Areas & Safety

Chickens also require access to areas where they are able to stretch their legs. Many people allow their chickens to roam free around their gardens, which is ideal. There is also the option building a chicken run which should be built as large as possible to keep the birds happy. It should also be built securely, again to defend against predators.

We have already covered the importance of keeping your hens safe from predators and a couple of considerations to bear in mind when providing them with a home and exercise area. There are other ways you can keep the animals safe such as an automatic po-hole opener which will automatically open and close the doors of the house based on a timer to ensure that your chickens are safely locked inside the house at night and it will also open in the morning to let the chickens out.

Feeding Chickens

There are some brilliant, nutritionally balanced chicken feeds available to keep your chickens in the best possible condition. Many people believe that you can feed chickens on food scraps and let them forage for the rest, however, it is likely that they will miss out on important nutrients which is why we always suggest using formulated feeds. Layers Pellets are the best solution, although cheaper ones, such as mash, are available. If you are keeping a significant number of birds ensure there is enough space at your feeders, or that you have enough feeders, for all of your birds, as the pecking order may mean that some chickens may miss out on food. There are certain plants, such as rhubarb or potato leaves, that are poisonous to chickens. Ask us for a full list of these items. Keeping your chickens well fed on a nutritionally balanced diet is also good for you as they will produce more eggs!

Keeping your chickens Hydrated

As with any living thing, keeping your chickens well hydrated is of the utmost importance. You should ensure that the chickens always have enough clean drinking water. Similar to with the feeders, you should ensure that there are enough water containers for all of your chickens to have a drink, regardless of the pecking order. Containers should be large enough to last all day, with a bit left spare. Many people also add a splash of apple cider vinegar to the water which is proven to be good for chickens

Choosing Your Chickens

Now comes the fun bit, choosing which chickens you would like to keep. We have a beautiful range of chickens from you to choose from including Silkies, polish bantams, Cochin and more. You can view our buying guide on our website or give us a call and arrange a visit to see the chickens in the flesh!

We recommend giving your new hens lots of space to adjust when they arrive, do not over cuddle and fuss them. Let them have a good couple of hours to adjust and look around. Make sure the feed and water is easily seen and accessible. Once they have started moving around a little and seem more comfortable, we recommend going up to the run and sprinkling some treats about, this will instantly make you a nice association, build on this by always offering a little handful or treats when you go to see them especially in the first 2-3 weeks.

We recommend 1 box to no more than 3 hens, this is a minimum requirement. If you don’t have enough build onto your house you can put external nesting boxes in and around your run.

Most manufacturers will offer a guide for he capacity, but rule of thumb is a house that is a mtr sq can hold up to 4-5 large and 6-8 small hens, they don’t need a lot of room in the house, the outside space is more important. If you do have a smaller house with only 1 nesting box, always offer more external nesting boxes as chickens, we recommend 1 box to 3 hens as a minimum.

Any fruits and vegetables not listed above.
Dried corn.
Live Grubs like black fly larvae, meal worms, soldier fly larvae.
Seeds
Nuts, but offer these sparingly as they are very high in fat.
Dried woodland mushrooms (human safe only).
Edible flowers such as marigolds, rose, nasturtium, lavender.
Herbs such as parsley, oregano, thyme, lemon balm, rosemary
Rolled oats, again offer these sparingly as they are high in fat and do not offer a huge amount of nutrition, but porridge is great to give in the winter months late in the afternoon as the hens will stay warm burning the porridge through the night.
It is illegal to feed your chickens dried grubs, meat or kitchen scraps.

Chickens love treats, and we love treating them, just like we do for any other pet, however, be careful with treating as not all foods are suitable and over treating can be harmful.

Yes, we vaccinate for Salmonella, Marek’s, Newcastle’s, and Infectious Bronchitis. We do not believe in over vaccinating as this creates weaker birds, farms that over vaccinate tend to do so after having had many issues and problems.

Keeping Chickens in the Garden – Five Common Myths Debunked

Chicken-keeping really is a fascinating and rewarding world to be involved in and here at Pipinchick Silkies, we know a thing or two about these wonderful birds and just what they are like to look after. We often come across the same questions that beginners to chicken-keeping have and so in this post we delve deeper into the true delights of owning chickens, get stuck into the detail and de-bunk the top five myths!

Myth 1 – Chickens are smelly and dirty!

Actually, chickens are really rather clean and tidy! Of course, any living creature can create a mess, but it really is not the case that keeping a small number of chickens in your garden, if properly looked after, need to be either smelly or dirty at all. You simply need to make sure they are cleaned out regularly and their bedding replaced. If you maintain their coop well, there need not be any nasty odour from your feathered friends at all (and they will probably love you all the more for doing so!). Plus, what mess they do make, in terms of their droppings can be really rather useful if you are into your gardening.

Myth 2 Keeping chickens will attract rats to my garden!

Keeping a few chickens in a coop in the garden is no more likely to attract rats to your outside space than feeding visiting birds, since it is the food source that can attract rodents, rather than actually keeping chickens as such. It is very straight forward to minimise the risk of unwanted visitors, you just need to ensure that any food kept near the coop is properly stored in containers which are rodent proof. Rats are opportunistic and will not hesitate to dig holes in bags of feed to get their paws on it, but a container that cannot be ripped or burrowed into is an instant deterrent.

Use a well-designed chicken feeder for your flock; a treadle feeder is a silent feeder which only releases food for the chickens when they activate it, making it much more effective at keeping the food away from any rodents. This type of feeder also reduces waste since it only dispenses food when the birds want it. Rats are not heavy enough to activate the treadle plate so once your chickens have got the hang of using such a feeder their food is safe from other such visitors.

Of course, removing any eggs from the coop is essential too, so be sure to collect them daily so that any rats are not tempted to get access and take them. Since rats can be dangerous to chickens, you will want to ensure there is no chance of them nesting underneath, so elevate the coop from the ground and make sure to regularly check the coop for holes or gaps that rats could exploit.

Myth 3 – Chickens will be noisy and annoy the neighbours

Unlikely, since hens only cluck very softly, mostly in the morning, or when they are laying eggs or communicating with each other. Some breeds are more vocal than others, so if noise is a concern you may want to select a quieter breed, such as Ameraucana.

If you are worried about roosters, who are certainly rather noisier (and they do NOT only crow at dawn, since their role is to warn of danger amongst other things) then you do not need to keep any of these, your hens will lay eggs perfectly well without them, these eggs are just infertile and cannot develop into chicks. If you do have a rooster, then eggs need to be collected daily and kept in a cool place, so that they do not develop into chicks.


Myth 4 – Chickens will wreck the garden

In fact, chickens can be a real asset to your garden, they will happily eat insects, snails and weeds. They scratch at the soil, which can both aerate it and reduce pests. If they are allowed to roam where you plant too, they will leave droppings which act as excellent fertilizer for many plants. Otherwise, you can add these droppings to your compost to help enrich this.

Of course, free roaming hens are happier hands, so to some extent, space does matter but if you do not want the chickens to have complete freedom in your garden, then they will be pretty content with at least 10 square feet to roam in, adjusted based on breed and coop design of course.


Myth 5 – Keeping chickens will mean fresh eggs every day

Egg production really varies. Some hens take a long time before they become comfortable enough to start laying and then there are significant differences between breeds. Some, such as our Ardennaise Bantams lay more consistently, up to 180 small white eggs a year, or for a more cuddly option, the Bearded Silkie, with up to 100 medium eggs annually. Depending on how much of a pet you want your chickens to be, whether you have children, want a garden companion, all of this will help determine the right birds for you, not egg production alone.

Egg production also varies seasonally, chickens lay fewer eggs during winter due to the reduced daylight hours. Annual molting that chickens undergo will also affect how many eggs are produced as will the general health and age of your hens. If you are interested in keeping chickens just for the eggs then you need to be fully aware that the eggs can be somewhat inconsistent.

Here at Pipinchick Silkies, we have chickens for sale and hens for sale and like to do our very best to help our customers, whether or not they are new to keeping chickens, with any questions they have on suitability and environment. We will help advise you on which breeds are likely to get along, what you need to do to give your birds the best start in their new homes and we offer all our customers 100 percent aftercare too, so if after reading these debunked myths there are any other pressing questions you have, do not hesitate to get in touch, we would love to help you out!

It is nice to be able to select your own hens from a pen, however, by choosing to stay in your immediate area you limit your choices and by buying from a small back garden set up you most likely won’t get vaccinated, guaranteed female or even fully healthy hens. We offer a higher level of quality and have raised the welfare standards of back garden poultry across the whole of the U.K. Why should you sacrifice quality due to your location?!

We have been there ourselves and there is nothing more heart-breaking than travelling for hours with the promise of lovely birds to arrive at a grotty back garden or farm and be shown unhealthy, skinny, sneezing hens with mycoplasma, scaly leg and mites!

Some of you as first-time keepers may not be aware of such issues and buy what you believe are healthy hens to then get them home and have them die or present illness, to then find your ‘breeder’ tells you tough luck and that’s the end of it!

Pipinchick Poultry are the leading supplier of pure and rare breed hens, we were the first in the U.K. to rear these types of breeds in the numbers we do and as such we have developed our own unique way of rearing that is gentle, sympathetic to each breed and as close to nature as it can be. We love each and every hen that we rear and put our heart and soul into raising them and by limiting farm visits we have found the hens are calmer, happier and live in a stress-free environment, without the constant anxiety of being selected per customer they live longer, have less behavioural issues and make better pets and back garden chickens.

This extra level of care shows in the final hen, they are friendly, healthy, sweet birds.

We never send any hens that are not old enough or strong enough for their journey, we have a 5-star reputation that we are very proud of, but more than that we care for the chickens and would not want them to endure suffering at all in any way.

As such, we guarantee 100% vaccinated, heathy and happy hens delivered to your door, we have a 10 day no quibble return policy, if any hen delivered shows signs of illness within the first 10 days of arrival we will help to resolve the issue or in a serious case we will come and collect the hen and replace or refund you. Please ensure if you do have a hen that is showing signs of illness or stress that you let us know immediately.

We will not be liable for any medical or vet bills unless prior agreed with our team.