Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

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JMcElroy
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Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

Post by JMcElroy »

Hi,

I am considering getting a couple of chickens, but am wondering if they will peck holes in my polytunnel plastic when let out of their run?

I believe I will need to keep raised beds covered. Is there anything else I need to consider around veg growing near chickens?

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Mo
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Re: Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

Post by Mo »

Not sure about the polytunnel, but they will dig Colditz tunnels in the lawn, for dust baths. And dig up or peck almost anything else. A lot of us started with the idea of letting hens have the run of the garden but ended up building bigger runs (and taller so that we could walk in to clean up all the poo) and ignoring the hens waiting at the door to be let out.

If you do let them out don't do it at first, wait till they are settled and know where their new home is. They take themselves in to roost at dusk so if you leave their door open just before that for the first time they might venture out but won't go far. Then as they get to know you can let them out for longer. The last thing you want is a chase through your neighbours gardens.
Moveable netting sold for hens is 4' high, but some hens jump this easily. And so can a fox. I think most of us have lost hens to foxes, beware. He only needs to get lucky once.

On the plus side you will be amazed at the character and intelligence of hens, as well as enjoying the eggs.
Dance caller. http://mo-dance-caller.blogspot.co.uk/p/what-i-do.html
Sunny Clucker enjoyed Folk music and song in mid-Cheshire
Gwenoakes
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Re: Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

Post by Gwenoakes »

Welcome to the forum.
Onions are poisonous to chickens, so if you are growing them be careful if they roam free.
I have not let my chickens out of the run mainly because all mine fly miles high and I have put a lid on the run to prevent this, also because my daughter has a GS dog and he has a very high prey drive, so do not think they would mix well.
They love you to dig for them and take any amount of worms that you can dig up.
I have a wooden swing in my run which they 'sometimes' sit on and several different heights of perches including an old apple branch for them to fly up to. I also bought some coloured balls which they have totally ignored. I hang cabbages in the run, also other veg that they peck at.
I have no experience of polytunnels and chickens, so no help on that one.
Come back and let us know how you get on.
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KarenE
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Re: Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

Post by KarenE »

I don't know about your polytunnel, I wouldn't have thought so but if you get two ocd peckers they might. I let mine into my greenhouse and they've never pecked the inside windows, although they do like to drink the trails of water when it rains. They wil of course eat anything inside it they can get their beaks into so you will definitely need to protect everything in there and generally in the garden too. I have al my veg patches fenced off and I put a screen over my greenhouse door when I don't want them to go in so you may find the polytunnel is unusable to them over summer and autumn. Very handy in winter though to have somewhere dry for them to go

same goes for your veg beds - you'll need to fence these off, don't just put netting over as they will squeeze their beaks through )t'
Karen
Alpha chick to: Dorian Grey, Pokey, Mango, Smudge and Coco
Chief servant to Marley the cat
Remembering Weeps, Rexie, Sage, Cassie, Toffee, Captain Gabby, Commander Nugget, Ronnie, Juno, Special Poetry and Reading Casper, Tigger, Tophenanall Rembrandt, Chestnut, Tiddly and Willow
Also my lost furries Charlie and Jasper
Freeranger
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Re: Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

Post by Freeranger »

Hi and welcome.
I don't know either, but mostly because chickens are very individual and just when you think you understand them they'll do something else. A bit like cats.
BUT
They will try and eat anything that looks like an insect. so, if you get flying insects land on the polythene they may try to eat them. However, other things like e.g. grass from mowing can look like that to them, so they may peck at them. It'll leave you both disappointed!
As to whether they'd deliberately peck at it, see above. We had a pile of foam insulation standing in the garden awaiting use and they pecked at that. They seem to like foamy things for some reason.
So, they might and it's best to be prepared. I'm not sure if you want them to go in it or stay outside. Karen's done inside, so I'll do stay outside.
You could make sure it's clean with nothing that could attract attention from them; distract them to other parts of the garden; put some kind of barrier so they can't easily see it or get to it.
As another learning point, they're really quite bright - contrary to expectations. We put 6' high netting around their open enclosure. They learned to get onto a kind of porch attached to their coop, then the coop roof, then onto a fence post and out to freedom. They're also very curious and like to explore.
ANOTHER BUT
I think that healthy, happy and well-fed hens would go for the immediately available first.
JMcElroy
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Re: Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

Post by JMcElroy »

Thank you all. This has been so, so helpful. The run I have ordered is 2m high, so walk in which is great. It is also extendable so I can make it bigger if need be. Its 2mx3m diameter for 3 hens.

I will consider fencing the polytunnel and raised bed off prior to getting them. As you suggest, its better to be prepared than disappoiinted.

Thank you all again. Very helpful advice.
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Mo
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Re: Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

Post by Mo »

Let us know how you get on.
When you say a couple of hens do you literally mean 2.

Most of us think 3 is better as they are sociable but nasty to strangers so when the time comes and you lose one you still have 2 friends, and can perhaps introduce a couple more, they will act like 2 separate flocks at first, then after a while you'll notice that they have mingled.
A few years back a lot of people were getting hens for the first time, and we noticed a pattern. They'd often get a few, then want more, then stuff the run with as many as it would hold. But really it is better to think ahead, introductions can be nasty, get them all at once. But leave the run not too crowded as you will eventually need a few new hens and the more space they have to get out of each others way, the less pecking there will be.

Have fun, you will enjoy them.
Dance caller. http://mo-dance-caller.blogspot.co.uk/p/what-i-do.html
Sunny Clucker enjoyed Folk music and song in mid-Cheshire
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kitla
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Re: Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

Post by kitla »

Chickens come in all shapes & sizes, some are less destructive than others. A couple of pekin bantams with their little feathery feet wont do so much damage than an excited & curious ex batt. My big Orpingtons & Brahmas have not been so into exploring as the hybrids, but they do love a big dustbath & tend to flatten things when they find a good sunbathing spot.
"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals."
--Immanuel Kant
bikesandbirdsbob
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Re: Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

Post by bikesandbirdsbob »

Plastic.
My hens take great pleasure in not pecking plastic but Clawing , scratching it.
A bag of sand in my garden is always got a hen`s attention .
Hens are always looking to see what they should not have .
So a fence is there for them to find out what is on the other side .
The sight of green stuff growing will attract there attention .
You will need to protect it but do not be surprised when the hens work out a plan to get the food inside .
The look on them when you see it is amazing , Like not me , children would look the same .
Innocent .
Go for it , but the hens will be happy with the weeds and greenery that you have finished with.
I would love you to do it and then tell us what happens . It makes us older hand remember the past , laugh at the going on , cry with the upsets , but most of all be part of the family of chicken keepers.
Bob
JMcElroy
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Re: Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

Post by JMcElroy »

I will definitely let you all know how I get on.

It is 3 Warren Browns that I am hoping to get. The coop will fit 4. The run is 3x2m but the garden outside is quite large. Not very secure though, as we live beside a field.

I am going to consider some kind of fencing around the polytunnel/raised bed. I am not due to get the coup until August, so a little time to plan ahead.

Thank you all.
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KarenE
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Re: Will chickens destroy my Polytunnel?

Post by KarenE »

The size of the coop is no tso important as they wil all squish together at night, but Id say definitely get the biggest run you can, and whatever you;re thinking double it as they will really enjoy the space - plus if you get chickenitis and want (need!) to add more your run will be able to take it. You can always add an extra coop in there if needed.

My fencing panels aren't anything fancy - bits of 2x3 with chicken wire stapled on and put up around my veg patches. mine are around waist height and they seem to be enough to deter them, although 2 of my newbies were just squeezing their beaks trhough the holes to nibble on my tomato leaves. Don't plant anything near the edges!

Oh - make sure your run has a roof on it, help to keep predators out

And finally, don't be too annoyed if they do crash in and wreck your garden. It's one of the joys of chicken keeping to find a half eaten collection of plants that you've painstakingly grown from seed and lovingly planted out.
Karen
Alpha chick to: Dorian Grey, Pokey, Mango, Smudge and Coco
Chief servant to Marley the cat
Remembering Weeps, Rexie, Sage, Cassie, Toffee, Captain Gabby, Commander Nugget, Ronnie, Juno, Special Poetry and Reading Casper, Tigger, Tophenanall Rembrandt, Chestnut, Tiddly and Willow
Also my lost furries Charlie and Jasper

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