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KMcD

Newbie Help Needed Please

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Hi Folks, 

"Newbie" in all senses of the word, here! I'm 3 weeks into my new 'project' and, rather sadly, losing a bit confidence actually. I wonder if you can help. 

I have an Eglu Go with a 2-metre standard run that is enclosed in a wood chip area ~12 metre square with Omlet chicken fencing. I'm at home during the day with my toddler so the plan is that the girls will have free-range within this fenced area whilst I'm home and go into the run when I can't be at home. 

We have had 3 young hybrid girls for nearly three weeks. They quickly demonstrated how young and flighty they can be by flying over the Omlet fencing from the ground with ease. So, we brought a large piece of aviary netting to cover the area which has successfully kept them contained. 

Next up, they've gone on to prove how agile they can be by putting their heads through the smaller holes of the fencing and reaching the grass adjacent to the wood chip area. In the last few days, they have taken to stranding on the fencing, to get to the bigger holes and thus pushing the fencing down and reaching the grass. Not only this but the 'door' posts have been knocked down and the birds escaped. We don't have much grass area (because we've given a good chunk to the "hen project") and it's slowly getting eaten away which we're not prepared to let happen. 

I'm appealing for some help as I'm feeling a bit dejected today. Despite having an enormous space to be in and delicious food on tap, they've spent what feels like an entire day pacing the fence, trying to breakthrough and I don't think they've eaten much in way of pellet food. Every time they see us they tear at the fence trying to breakdown the door like they've not been fed. I shall add that we only feed treats (corn or salad ends) in the afternoons.  All this said, they have started laying beautiful eggs just this week. They just don't seem the docile, settled, birds we were expecting. 

So, will my beautiful hens calm down? Will they stop risking their lives for the greener grass on the other side of the fence? Longer term, I don't believe the Omlet chicken fence is suitable for permanent fencing. Our ground is so wet from the rain and the posts are just coming out. Do we spend a fortune in materials and time to make a more structured, bespoke, run to include wooden posts and wire mesh if they will still try and break free for the grass nearby? This option would be very difficult for us as my husband and I are not terribly experienced with most basic DIY, let alone carpentry etc. 

The other option we are considering is relocating them to the other side of our path, next to the patioed area where we could (only) fit a Omlet WIR (2x2x2). I would transfer the woodchip over and buy a connection kit so the hens would have the full area as their main roam and I would allow free-range (or make use of the Omlet fencing on the grass) when I could. The WIR would, however, provide less space than their lovely area now. 

Re: WIR (2x2x2) would three girls be OK in there? 
 

Sigh. Big dilemmas here. A lot of learning. Husband is being supportive but he's also keen to find the most cost/time effective option here. 

Apologies for this rambling first post. ANY advice/guidance would be greatly received pleased. Have attached some pictures... people included! 

Many thanks, 

KMCD

 

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That’s a bit of a dilemma!

If you have the funds and space, I think I would go for a WIR. 3 chickens will be fine in a 2x2 WIR, in combination with a Go run. Especially in winter a more permanent set up will be easier to clean and keep dry/mud free.

Chickens are true opportunists and love a bit of green. But normally they will give up after a while, but it does take some time.

They are very pretty hens though! They are lucky with such caring owners!

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13 minutes ago, Cat tails said:

That’s a bit of a dilemma!

If you have the funds and space, I think I would go for a WIR. 3 chickens will be fine in a 2x2 WIR, in combination with a Go run. Especially in winter a more permanent set up will be easier to clean and keep dry/mud free.

Chickens are true opportunists and love a bit of green. But normally they will give up after a while, but it does take some time.

They are very pretty hens though! They are lucky with such caring owners!

Aw, thank you. That's really kind of you to say. I think they are really gorgeous and I just want to provide them with the best I can while also keeping my husband on side (he's not too pleased by this. He's a golfer, you see, and can't bear the thought of his grass being mud!). He is trying to help and looking around at other cheaper runs on the market. Lots of metal pole constructions with "Oxford-welded hexaganol wire mesh". I've tried to explain this is "chicken wire" and not fox-proof (our biggest threat in the UK and we are rural) but they are misleading as claim to be "predator proof". He also knows friends in our village who have chicken wire runs and have had no problem with foxes so I'm having a hard time justifying the cost of an Omlet.  

Would the WIR be OK with just the Go (no run) attached? I wouldn't have enough room for them on that side to have the Go run in addition to the WIR... 

I hope we can get over this hurdle and chicken owning will become the easy, straight forward joy i'd read so much about! :D 

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Think you could get away with it, bit bigger is always better. 
I made my low rise WIR from scaffolding. Didn’t use fox proof wire, as I don’t live rural. But you could if you wanted. I didn’t get the Omlet one, as it was too big for my garden, but ordered scaffolding poles and brackets online cut to size.

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i don't think they will take to a reduced area now they have tasted freedom and the stress will cause behavioural problems, certainly in a run that small. We have an Omlet net set in a square and the problem is (as with any net) the corner posts flex so you can't get tight mesh. You could drive wooden posts in at the corners and tie the plastic posts back to them. You will find that their desire for grass is pretty much insatiable anyway, so even if they had the whole lawn they would wreck it. But at least they will eat the grass around the net because longer term grass would grow into it and look a real mess. We have to lift the net and take the posts out to mow the grass several times a year. Our net enclosed runs are all grass and not wood chip, which means we have to and can poo pick, but we won't have the long term issue of smelly chippings needing replacing. Perhaps you can get extra posts for the net as well?

Lovely chickens and quite large. They get less flighty when they are older and laying, so none of ours can fly over the net now (except the bantams).

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I think your chicken area looks amazing.

I would be inclined to enclose the area completely with some kind of kickboard around the bottom - this will help keep the woodchip in and obscure their view of the grass a little bit.

They will soon get used to being shut in.

Perhaps get them some toys and things to climb on - mine have 2 children's benches, some wooden mushrooms and a big log.

They also have a Jungle Gym from Flyte So Fancy which was expensive and sadly none of mine really go on it - I think it is because mine is in such a small space. 

When I first had chickens they had the run of the garden but the girls soon trashed everything and poop was everywhere. It drove me mad so now my girls are now shut in all the time, mind you, I do only have Pekins now. 

Have you clipped their wings ? That might also help. (only clip one though)

Things will get easier and although sometimes an expensive outlay for various bits and pieces, the girls more than make up for that with their personalities and their eggs (unless you are a Pekin :lol:

My photo is a bit out of date but it gives you a rough idea 😊

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4 hours ago, Luvachicken said:

They will soon get used to being shut in.

 

6 hours ago, Beantree said:

You will find that their desire for grass is pretty much insatiable anyway, so even if they had the whole lawn they would wreck it

I think these are the key points here. 
 

If you are able to get the Omlet fence a bit more robust somehow (I’ve never experienced or heard of it being bulldozed over before so I’m not sure what the solution would be) then I think your current set up would be great. Clip their wings to stop them flying over. 
 

Mine are in a similar set up at the moment and of course they always want to come out and eat the grass that they’re not allowed onto, but if you never let them they will learn that it isn’t going to happen.

Also - and sorry if this isn’t right - it’s hard to see exactly from your photo - but it does look like maybe your Omlet fence posts could go into the ground further - you do have to give them a really good stamp down

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Thank you folks for your helpful and kind comments about our hens and their home. 

My husband and I have spent much of the weekend discussing options.

We've considered wooden posts in the corners of the area in an attempt to stabilise the netting along with some sort of kick boards and further posts in the middle of the area to support the netting rather than drape it over the trees. My husband isn't confident in his (limited) DIY abilities to complete this work that will give an aesthetically pleasing end product. Aesthetics will play a part in this as our garden is relatively small and the hens visible at all times. Additionally, we're not keen to add *more* concrete to our garden. We also don't want to pay out for materials to find the problem of the netting is not solved and I rather suspect the Omlet netting will always have a degree of give (I should add this is the older fencing, not the new , plastic, version).Then we'd be in a position of replacing the netting with weldmesh which, for that area, would be quite costly. Another factor is the time involved in this. 

My husband is favouring the walk-in run option as it ticks boxes. Purpose built, more pleasing on the eye, would make better use of another space in the garden and would potentially have a better re-sell value than investing in other materials. I realise here my husband is not considering the hens themselves which I am trying to balance with.

My concern is that, as mentioned by Beantree above, the hens would find a downsize stressful. I called Omlet HQ (UK) today and spoke with a chap there who advised the 2x2x2 run is sufficient space for the three (working on the 1mt square per hen) and that the increased height of the run would also provide more space available. I would make use of my netting and allow 'free range' access via this which would a significant amount of the time. IN the longer term, we may have room to expand the walk in run. 

Appreciate no one has answers to this dilemma. Matching needs to the hens with budgets and space restrictions is no easy task.  I'll do some more enquiring about the WIR option on here too.

Many thanks, 

KMcD

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We all have answers KMcD, but you have the dilemma because your requirements contradict those of the hens. Sorry but the chap you spoke to knows diddly squat about chickens, he just tries to sell Omlet stuff. If he did know he wouldn't tell you what he has.

Perhaps think about rehoming them?

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9 minutes ago, Beantree said:

Perhaps think about rehoming them?

Wow Beantree... I know your views differ from some here, but this is a bit of a statement to a new hen keeper.  The current set up is definitely sufficient and a WIR will be too. The bigger is always better, but we don’t all have acres and most chickens will perfectly happy in the space provided.

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Problem is @Cat tails that the current set-up is fine but they can't cope with it, so I have to say what is the inevitable conclusion. You can't put 3 hens into a 2x2 run for 4 months of lockdown. Re-homing them is in my opinion the only option.

Sorry KMcD, this should have been a private note to Cat tails, but best you read it.

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Golly. It's been a long time since I entertained forums and now I remember why. Sigh. 

@BeantreeI disagree that re-homing is the only option, at this stage, and we will continue to explore options for our hens. 

 

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I'm very happy @KMcD that you are still open to considering options. Perhaps get someone in to do the work on the existing enclosure?

Forums are great; after all it's advice for free and you can take it or leave it.

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