Are your Hens safe around the Home & Garden
It's great to see your poultry roam around, but beware
It's very simple to keep chickens as many 100's of people who have began back garden chicken keeping will tell you.
You buy / build a house, a run / pen, put some chickens in and away you go. All will probably run smoothly for weeks, month's, even years, but every once in a while you can suddenly lose one, or more, through innocent neglect. Maybe 'the hazard' has been there from Day One, but it's gone un-noticed by both you and the chickens.
Here's a few thing's I can come up with, some through personal experience and others I've heard about.
Doors and Gates
Don't forget to protect underneath against predators. It's easily forgotten when you're sinking the fence well into the ground or surrounding the run with concrete slabs etc. I've banged tent pegs into the ground under my gate.
Make sure a door or gate is secure the whole way down. If there's a bit of play at the bottom, a predator may not be able to get in, but a chicken may be able to get their head through and not get it back again. I've experienced this and it's not nice.
Make sure the door and gate shut into a recess. A predator can chew and usually has all night to do it in.
One other thing is that Chickens will see an open door and go for it. This often means closing the door whilst four over active hens are trying to get out. Make sure you don't get one caught by a foot or wing in the door when you close it. They could be stuck for hours.
Ponds. I was thinking of keeping a few ducks in with the chickens and I sank a bath into the ground for 'a pond'. Although I put a few rocks at the bottom, a chicken slipped in and couldn't get out. By the time I found this, it was too late.
Water Containers. If you have a fairly large size, make sure it's not too wide and too deep. Chickens love balancing on the side and bending their necks right in to get the drink. A sudden rush of other chickens, the same can apply as the Pond.
The Chicken House
A fox got through this
Check the wood all round on a regular basis. If there's a lose slat, fix it immediately. A fox can get through a gap the size of a hand width quite easily (see photo).
The one thing which comes up over and over again is pure Human forgetfulness. I know many people inc. myself who have walked up the garden first thing, seen the feathers and heard 'the silence'. This is followed by "Oh no, I forgot to shut the pop-hole"
Wood Treatment - Make sure it is safe for chickens. Don't always take the word of a Sales Assistant - phone up the Manufacturer if unsure.
Where possible, treat their food containers as you would a Wild Bird feeder. In other words, so that as few of other creatures can get to it, especially Rats. A Rat can swing and then pull itself up (see 'Roland the Rat' video clip of mine). Rats will 'poo' anywhere and this will get mixed into the food. Also, in view of the existing Avian Flu threat, where possible, feed undercover.
Chickens who have the run of a garden or a big Chicken Run should not cause any problems about getting poisoned. They know what they can and can't eat better than we do. However, in an Ark or a more confined setting, make sure that all food is of the proper nature.
Ninety nine per cent of the time, you'll have no problems keeping chickens.
I think we have to realise that, although they are Pet's, underneath they are a wild bird and naturally have a lot of instincts built into them.
It is natural for them to be nosey, reach for that blade of grass just outside the gate, or venture off down the road in search of even better treats
We can only do what we can do and that is to provide them with a comfortable safe home with as safe as can be surrounding environment.
A huge THANK YOU to contributing Forum Members. It's not always easy telling about things you may have overlooked, then suffer the guilt consequences. I really do appreciate it.