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Advice needed for beginner

 
Stephen McCarthy
Posts: 4
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Hi everyone and greetings from Ireland, this is my first post. I recently jumped off the deep end and bought myself ten point of lay free range laying hens. I have a half acre holding which includes the house and driveway, so not a lot of space for the chickens. I use a 50meter electric fence to keep the girls safe from predators which is effective but I find it has to be moved approximately every three to four weeks. Moving the fence in itself is proving to be a real pain on my own. I've moved them twice already and with the grass growth slowing down I know I'm going to run out of fresh ground/grass by Christmas.

My first question is: Is there a simpler way to deal with this. Is it possible to keep ten hens in one place without it getting incredibly filthy and at the same time giving them all that they need to produce good quality eggs. It's fairly wet here in the winter so I'm afraid the ground would get really mucky and unhygienic.

And my second question is this: I feed them proper organic pellets from a DIY on demand rodent proof step on feeder but I also feed them free out dated fresh fruit and veg I get from the local vegetable store. I am finding it a chore to keep up with the latter as it means I've got to constantly drop into the store to get the veg and chop chop for fifteen minutes every morning. A lot of the time the store doesn't have any which wastes a lot of time. It was fine at the beginning but now I'm starting to find it's getting to me and the romance with my girls is ebbing. Is it necessary to go to all this trouble or will they produce good eggs with the pellets alone. They're eggs are amazing by the way.

Thanks for reading.
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Rodent feeder and water set up
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Chicken house on wheels
 
John Polk
master steward
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Posts: 8018
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Welcome to permies.com

In the commercial egg business, chickens are typically fed just grains, and they continue laying.
Fresh pasture (with its delicious bugs for protein) plus garden scraps will improve the quality of the eggs.

In your climate, you might be able to get away with some late sowings of buckwheat.
Many use it as a green manure crop because it is such a fast grower - 30 days from sow to mow.
Might be able to extend your 'greens' season a little longer with that.

Things like winter squash & pumpkins that aren't storing well make delightful 'toys' for them to eat. Dense & filling.

Rather than making special trips to the store for chicken feed, how about just stopping by there when you are passing?
Now that the growing season is mostly over, they will probably have less scrap.

Once you get spoiled with fresh, home grown eggs, you will not want the store bought kind any more.
 
L. Zell
Posts: 33
Location: Missouri
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I would also not bother chopping the produce you give them. Throw it in with them whole, or if it has a hard rind or is something like turnips, stomp on them to crack them open, then toss in. I keep a small chunk of concrete in my bird pen just to have a bit of a hard edge to stomp on the tougher veggies.
 
matt dee
Posts: 37
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Im from Ireland aswell=]
Anyways i have 12 hens and two roosters in possibly an area a bit bigger than yours. Theyve been there for the last three years ( were free ranging before hand but the fox got hungry ) and its fine^^ in my experience if there is nothing in the run it wont last at all. But the run they are in now has multiple trees and shrubs, aswell as rotting pieces of wood which attract many insects. Its like a house in my view. If there were no internal walls it wouldnt last anyone any length of time as it would all be a mess. But if you add a wall or two, such as trees then it will last. I dunno, i just confused myself also throwing them the old vegetables in at different places will bring them to new parts of the run, which hopefully they will want to disvover.
Good luck
 
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