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Hi everyone, I've never kept chickens before but have always wanted to, and we have recently moved house and have a bit of room to keep some, so I want to do a bit of research before we get some. First off a few questions:

Do you need a cockerel to get the hens to lay eggs? I read that you aren't allowed to keep cockerels in a residential area so that is out.

Do they need any heat source throughout the winter?

What do they need on the floor of their run? At the moment the area where we would put them is just mud and weeds.


Any other advice gratefully received.


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Hello and welcome to the potential world of chicken keeping :D


You don't need a cockeral the chooks will lay quite happily without.


They do tend to snuggle up together at night anyway, so you don't need a heat source, although some poeple put the microwavable heat pads in the eglu to keep them warmer.


My run has auboise/hemcore in the run, and under the roosting bars, and also the bottom of the nestbox as it is easy to use, composts well, absorbant, and great for the chooks to scratch around in :D


There is lots of advise on here, have a good look around the forum, and I'm sure you'll think keeping chickens in a fabulous idea :D


Karen x

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What is auboise, and where can I get it?


Its also called Hemcore - its the chopped up core of the hemp plant and its usually infused with citronella and smells wonderful :D


What does a chicken house need to have?


Somewhere for the chooks to lay their eggs - a nesting box, and somewhere for them to roost - some roosting bars raised up so the pooh can drop through into a removable tray below (makes cleaning easier)


Would I be able to make a decent one or would it be best to buy one?


I suppose this depends on how handy you are - there are quite a few people on this forum who have made their own hen houses


If so where from? We don't have much of a budget.


If you want and eglu you can buy them off ebay at varying prices or you can call Omlet direct as they sometimes have recon ones that are a little cheaper. Otherwise you can buy wooden ones from places like the Domestic Fowl Trust




Hope this helps :D

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You can get aubiose (also known as hemcore) from country stores (the kind that sell horsey stuff. Actually, I use bark, as per the Omlet illustrations, as I only have a small garden and the dark colour is less obtrusive. Some people find that bark gets slimy, but East Anglia is pretty dry so that's not really a problem here.


Obviously a lot of us here have eglus - they are so much easier to clean, and the insulated walls keep your chickens warm in winter and cool in summer. Wooden houses are cheaper - as for whether you could make your own, it depends on how handy you are! At a minimum you need:


* a run area securely covered with strong mesh (not chicken wire, as a fox can bite through it) - about 1sq metre per chicken is enough if you can also let them free-range in the garden - and preferably a solid roof such as corrugated plastic, to keep the worst of the rain (and the wild bird poo) out!


* a nesting/roosting box with roosting bars for sleeping and a nest box to lay eggs in - how big, and how many nest boxes, depends on the number of chickens


* shade from the sun - chickens can overheat easily in summer


* food and water containers, preferably hung up on the run wall to reduce the amount of bedding that can be kicked into them when the chickens scratch around!


There are lots of henhouses for sale online if you need ideas, or maybe there is somewhere nearby where you could look at them and see how they are made. There's a chap in Eye who makes very pretty arks and henhouses, but I don't know how much they cost as I already had an eglu when I bought my Wyandotte bantams from him.


BTW, I don't supply heat in winter - I just shut the eglu door if the night temperatures are forecast to go below zero. Chickens cope with cold much better than heat.

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Do you need a cockerel to get the hens to lay eggs?

No they will lay with or without.


Do they need any heat source throughout the winter?

No they happily snuggle up together.


What do they need on the floor of their run?

I have mud and weeds and their fine - it really doesnt matter along as its natural - some people like bark - make sure their arent any sharp weeds (thisstles etc)



Wecome to the wonderful world of chicken keeping :)

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