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Thinking about keeping Chickens

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Hi everyone,


I've been lurking on the forum here for a few days now reading lots of posts and have now plucked up the courage to post myself. I've always loved the idea of keeping chickens and, having stumbled across the Eglu, I wondered whether it'd be right for me.


My issue is really my garden. It's quite small. 10m wide by about 6m. It has 5ft fence down one side and 6ft down the other. The rest is basically my house/garage.


If I've read the posts right on the forum, people do just keep them in their runs but I'd prefer to let them have a bit more freedom.


My main issue is that my garden is basically gravel at the moment. I do intend to have it turfed but that's quite a job and I was going to do that in the springtime.


There would be no problem with setting out the area for the Eglu and run with bark or hemcore but I don't know how they'd fare if allowed onto the gravel. Obviously, once the gardens turfed there's no problem.


So I guess my first question was just to see what people thought to allowing them out onto gravel.


My other question would be the siting of the Eglu and run. My garden is East facing so it only really gets sun until about 4:00pm. Should you look to situate the Eglu and run in the sunniest part of the garden or doesn't it matter (they'd still get quite a bit of sun a day even in the shadier parts)?


On the positive side of things, my garden is extremely sheltered from wind and frost (mainly because it ain't that big!) so they'd always be pretty warm even if it gets pretty cold.





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Welcome to the forum!


My garden is mainly decking, pebbles, gravel, a pond and a small patch of grass (which now resembles mud!). My chooks do just fine in my garden, they dont mind the pebbles/gravel at all and they scratch around in it.


It might be a good idea for you to make a "permanent site" lots of eglu owners do, you could s"Ooops, word censored!"e up the gravel and put some woodchip/bark base and put a border around it (to keep the woodchip/bark inside). I used hemcore in the run - its a really fab horsey type bedding that comes in bales.


Chickens do not like direct sun so i wouldnt put the eglu in direct sunlight without a some shade. Mine are under the cherry tree in the corner of the garden. Mine do free range nearly all day every day, they do like sitting in the afternoon sun for a bit but i wouldnt put them somewhere where they couldnt get some shade. :)

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Welcome Henry,


I wouldn't bother to turf if I was you, they will just scratch it all up and wreck it :evil: I'm no expert but I don't see a problem with freeranging on gravel, although again they will scratch it up and probably dust bath in it, it won't look neat anymore :roll: If you haven't got any plants in your garden you could always hang up some spinach or cabbage in their run so they get their greens. I also don't see a problem with the 'little sun' issue as long as they get some they will be fine, Omlet provide a sunshade for the Eglu to give them somewhere to shelter if it gets too hot. A sheltered garden is good too.

I say go for it :) Would you consider re-homing some ex-batts? Whatever kind of chickens you get you won't regret it, I promise :wink:



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What's a dustbath? I've not come across that before!


hens love it. Mine do it quite often. Hens love to lie sideways in mud and flick the mud up over and into their feathers, it looks very strange to watch them but they really enjoy it.


If you make one you could use any sort of container (cat litter tray/tubtrug/plant pot) fill with compost, playsand, earth, ash or a mixture of any of that and they will love it.

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Wow, that was quick!


That's really reassuring. I'm certainly thinking about a couple of ex-bats but am a bit nervous as they'd be my first.



they were/are my first too :D


p.s. they rehome a minimum of 3 girls

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I'm certainly thinking about a couple of ex-bats but am a bit nervous as they'd be my first.


As a first time chicken owner I felt too nervous to get ex-bats too, but I regret that decision now, although I lurve my Omlet chooks greatly :) You can be assured of all the support you need if you do decide to get some, loads of people on here have ex-batts and will happily answer all your questions. I think it is such a great worthwhile thing to do.



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Hi, my garden only has stones so we built this 'platform' when we 1st got an eglu. They seem perfectly happy scratching around (and occasionally come up to poo all over the deck too :roll: ). I have a path with stones down either side and they like to kick all the stones out so I have to sweep up most nights.



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Hi Henry, welcome to the forum :) .


I have a pretty small garden (it's the width of the house and just over the length of the garage). My 3 girls fit in it really well and seem very happy. I do have grass but it's rubbish - they tend to spend their time in the flowerbeds anyway :roll: . Perhaps you could s"Ooops, word censored!"e some of the gravel off a small area to make a soil area for them? They might use that to dustbathe (mine use the earth/hemcore in their run as its covered and stays dry) but they would certainly use it to scratch about in.


By the way, I've got an eglu with a run plus extension. The extension makes a big difference to the space if they don't get out to freerange a lot (or even if they do!).

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oh and by the way - we re-turfed the lawn in September - the grass has all gone now!! :roll:


I was going to say that there is no point in turfing if you have chickens but chelsea has implied that far better than I could! :lol:


My garden is small-ish and narrow too. What was the "lawn" is now a mudbath but I wouldn't change it for the world. I agree with other posters re having a permanent site for your eglu. In a small garden, there just isn't the room to move it around and give the grass time to recover, especially in this weather.


I now sow seed trays of grass seed, successively so the girls have fresh grass to peck at. They attack it like a ravening horde!


Welcome to the forum. I do hope you are able to get chooks soon.

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Hi and welcome Henry!

I'd just echo what the others have said - your garden sounds fine. And they love gravel, although you are at risk of shrapnel injuries if you stand too close whilst they are scratching! :lol:

And this is dustbathing, they love it and are so funny to watch:


Get your chooks soon, you won't regret it! 8)

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Hello Henry, well we are quite novice to this aswell , we got our first hens in December but now we are totally hooked...don't worry too much about everything your hens will be fine and the reason for that is how much you seem to care about their welfare is apparent enough to make it work for you..

We have a very big garden but now we will have to confine them to an enclosure because we saw a fox roaming around last night and their freeranging days are now going to have to be limited..

So, go for it and you will not be sorry...I never in my wildest dream thought that we would get so hooked on these darling little girls..and everything will fall into place...

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I use:

  • layers pellets
    hemcore for run/nestbox
    garlic powder - stops poo smelling
apple cider vinegar ~ here
Diatom ~ here
Red Mite Powder ~ here
Poultry Spice ~ here
poultry grit/oystershell ~ like this
a pot to put it in ~ like this
Ecover washingup liquid for cleaning eglu/roosting bars
some kind of pet disinfectant spray for eglu
dried mealworms
dried corn ~ like this


I'm sure others will add more ( :roll: ) essentials. I believe Flytes So Fancy is a good site pricewise but I've just included it for your info. You may want to shop around (the Omlet site can be expensive :oops: ).

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Anything they'd do differently if they had their time again?


Most of the stuff I have now I got gradually as the months went by, so I now have cidre vinegar, garlic etc etc. Don't worry too much about these extras and what they are for as you'll find out what different people use on this forum.


But my 3 top tips for straight away are:

1. buy spare roosting bars if you get an eglu (makes changing/cleaning them so easy) and

2. buy Auboise (or Hemcore is another make) and put it down 1 inch thick on the run floor as it soaks up poos. Look in Yellow pages for a horse supplies shop. About £9 a bale.

3. Dustbath in the run.


PS. you'll be hooked once you get them

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Wow - ANH has given a great summary! What would I do differently if I started again? Get THREE chickens! I started with two, I have now added three more (adopted when their owners emigrated) but three is the best number to start with, in my view.


My top tips:

1) Garlic to add to the feed, if you only have a small garden this will make a HUGE difference to sharing it with chickens!

2) spare roosting bars, speeds up the cleaning

3) Hemcore or aubiose - fantastic stuff

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I definitely echo some of the advice already given.


DEFINITELY get spare roosting bars. It has made my life so much easier since I got them. One to wash and one to wear as it were.


Also, since I lost one of my girls to a fox, I would advise supervision at all times when free-ranging - what I mean, is to be in the garden with them, not necessarily following their every move! :lol:


Good suggestion from Goosey Lucy too.

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Well gerden size certainly sint an issue as I have a garden the same size (in fact slightly smaller) and I have 10! With as garden that small though you will find the gravel a nightmare cause when it becomes poo filled it will be very hard to clean, you cant compst gravel down, and Im not sure what you would do. As others said turfing isnt really worth it as they will eat all the grass anyway, so I would go for siting the run on a fixed base with wwodchip/hemcore as it will make your life easier.


As for things to do, go for a cube not an eglu if you thinkl their is ever any posibility of wanting more, it is addictive and a cube allows for a lot more possibilities.

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