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Newbie to Keeping Chickens

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Sorry but I have a few queries as I am new to keeping chickens, wished I’d found this site before we bought them. We have 5 pekins that live in an ark like house with upstairs for sleeping and downstairs being a run. We were told they were about 16-18 weeks old when we got them in August. They are great to have and can’t imagine the garden without them now. They are friendly and like to follow me around the garden and will take corn from the hand. My ageing rabbit gets on fine with them although he does get poked a bit when he’s not paying them enough attention.


When we got them we were told not to leave them out while we were out at work but I don’t know why. At the weekends we leave them out all day and have left them out while we pop to the shops and they are fine.

Has anyone got any opinions on this as I don’t really like them being stuck in the run all day. Our garden is surrounded by 6ft high fence, are likely to get over the fence? are cats a problem? We don’t leave our rabbit out in the garden while we are out as we had one killed by a cat years ago.


They haven’t started laying yet, what age would you usually expect them to start laying?


If we leave the ramp down so they can go upstairs they will disappear up there for the majority of the day. They don’t sit in the nest box or on the roosting perches but just sit round the ramp upstairs. Last weekend we closed the ramp all day so they couldn’t go and hide and they appeared perfectly happy in the garden. Should we close the ramp so they can’t keep going upstairs and provide a nesting box downstairs until they get the idea?


I’m sure there will be a load more questions – just hope I can be of help to others when I become more experienced. Thanks in advance.

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Welcome to the forum!

I can't answer all your questions, only the one about leaving them out all day. Maybe you don't have a local fox, maybe it is one that only comes out at night, but 6' fences will not stop a fox (I feel as if I post this on a thread every day, but it is something I am a bit passionate about!)


In my last house (didn't have chickens there as the garden was too small) I had 6' fences, and was surrounded by other houses and gardens on all sides - it was a terraced house in East London. The fox regularly slept in my garden, and I would often see it hopping over the fence with great agility.


I don't think cats would be a big problem, but a fox will probably kill all your chickens and take just one, if it gets to them. If you live in a rural area, you may find your local foxes are more shy and more nocturnal; there are lots of people on here who let their chooks free-range during the day. That's fine as long as you're aware of the risk - don't rely on fences to keep the fox away.


Sorry, that doesn't help with the rest of your questions - someone else on here will know, I'm sure!

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I wouldn't close the ramp during the day. It gives them more options for hiding/sheltering in the face of bad weather or a predator.


Unless you are absolutely certain that there are no foxes in your area, I wouldn't leave them out unattended whilst you are at work.


Welcome to the forum by the way. :lol:

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Hi, welcome to the forum. I think I would be inclined to leave the ladder in place and let them choose where to go. If they are anything like mine, they will become more adventurous the older they get. At the moment, they're just babies. As for leaving them out while you're at work, it really depends how sure you are that there are no foxes in the area. It will only take one visit for you to lose them all. If you have doubts, let them out for a short time when you get home and at weekends.


Best of luck!

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Hi and welcome. :)


I didn't think there were any foxes that passed through our garden but since we've had GNR GNR we've had evidence of at least 2 visits. The first time there were footprints on top of the (blue eglu) on the first night we had the chooks. The second time, there were footprints on the run cover, on the first night I left the chickens eglu door open.


I was really shocked, :shock: we have 6 foot high fences all round and they were all put up this spring so no gaps anywhere. Obviously it's your decision but personally I really wouldn't take any chances by leaving the chickens out while I wasn't there.


Enjoy your entertaining new additions!! :D

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Thanks for all the advice so far peeps, this site is great for info.

I don't want to loose them so will leave them in while out at work for the time being, will also leave the ladder down and hope they start spending more time downstairs.

Looking forward to my first egg......

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We're in a small rural town with foxes up in the woods although I've never seen evidence of them down in the town. I guess country foxes aren't quite as brave as their town cousins. Even so, I only ever let them out when I'm around.When I'm at work they stay in the run - they have hemcore to scratch around in plus a cage of greens and a rabbit treat ball to roll round to get mixed corn out of.

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