Just how much space do they need?

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Just how much space do they need?
« on: February 13, 2019, 11:40 »
Apologies in advance for the long post.....   

I've been wanting to get chickens for absolute ages but have always had a few concerns as I work full time so am out of the house for nearly 12 hours and what does one do in the darker winter months?  Lots to ponder and think about.   I've been reading through all the posts on here and looking at all the pictures of the amazing coops that people have for their chickens and it's just making me more determined to get my own chickens.   

Ideally I'd like just two chickens (will be rescue ex bats) and I'm willing to push the boat on this one and go for the larger Eglu Cube with a 3m run just to make sure they have ample space?    When the days are longer I'd like to let them out to free range in the garden once I'm home after work, and over the weekend they could be out as long as I'm home (and provided they and the cats get on) .  But I do worry about having them confined all day whilst I'm at work.   Also, not sure about letting them out before I go to work in case they won't want to go back in  :D

Another concern - and excuse the ignorance on this one -  is how high can chickens fly?  Would they be able to scale a 6ft fence?

So the main questions are:
- Would the cube with a 3m run be enough space for them to be in more or less 24/7 if I make sure they have  a few interesting things to occupy them.  Or, on the other hand is that overkill and smaller is better?
- Is it OK to have just two chickens or should one have more so they have company?
- Do I have to move the coop after a year or so, or can it stay in one place
- My garden has very sandy soil - is that OK for chickens or do I need to change something to make it better?
- What's the one bit of advise you'd give to a person like me

Well, thanks for reading this far down and very much looking forward to hearing from people


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Re: Just how much space do they need?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2019, 12:54 »
If you have room for the larger Cube and run, I would go for that and yes it would be fine if you had some added extras to amuse them.   A six foot fence should be Ok to keep them in as well.  Ex-bats are fairly hefty birds and don't take off easily.

Two hens are fine.  A hen alone is very sad, but so long as she has at least one friend, that's OK.  You will have to plan in case one dies leaving the other alone.  Introductions can be tricky and a temporary run might be needed at some point to allow hens to get used to one another.  Pet shops sell folding rabbit ones that you would just have to add some shade and weather sheltering to.  A temporary coop can be a box that you can close and put in a shed overnight if need be.

Sandy soil = amazing dust bath facility to a hen's brain, so don't worry about that.  They will trash the soil beneath their run, but you can add bark chips if it gets muddy and hose the run down to keep it clean.  They will strip it of grass, but I've seen people grow trays of grass in cat litter trays with drainage holes drilled in and put those in.  They don't last, but the hens have a fantastic time destroying them  :lol: 

A plastic tub with mixed corn in it makes an effective training aid for getting them back.  You will be amazed how quickly they learn what that rattle means and how fast they race across the garden to get to you  ;)

One bit of advice - go for it  :D  Hens are great company and you will enjoy them hugely every weekday evening and weekend day you can spend time outside with them.

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