Thinking of giving up

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by tinkymalinky, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. tinkymalinky

    tinkymalinky In the Brooder

    Sep 27, 2014
    I thought that I would love to see chickens pottering about in my garden, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Mostly I just feel guilty about the fact that they haven’t got much space and seem a bit bored a lot of the time.

    I only have 2 hens now (used to be 3 but the old ex-bat died). The two I have are about a year old, full of energy, constantly running back and forth in their pen. They used to escape a lot until I clipped their wings. They have about 10 square metres of ground, some of which is covered but mostly it’s exposed to the rain, so in the winter they’re standing in a mudbath. Back in the summer I dug in several bags of sand to improve drainage, but it only seems to have helped a bit. The area is a funny L-shape next to a greenhouse, so it would be almost impossible to cover the whole thing.

    I bring them weeds from the allotment, worms, maggots from the fishing shop, scratch corn, old lettuces from the food bank where I volunteer etc. But they always seem restless. One of them is constantly sticking her head out of a gap by the greenhouse, then running backwards and forwards as if trying to find a way out.

    To add to this, their pen looks a mess because over the last six months I’ve added bits of wire here and there as I’ve moved things about. I either need to spend money reorganising, or decide to give up on the whole thing.

    I wanted chickens because I used to keep them as a teenager, and I loved to see them scratching about. But I’m finding it’s very different in a small city garden. Any advice or suggestions? Shall I just cut my losses and find them a new home?
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    It's hard to get started, lots of trials and tribulations in getting the facility setup and working well.
    Once they get out they are not going to be real happy staying in, but just stick with it and try to relax...they'll get used to it in time and they're probably not quite as unhappy as you might think they are.

    Sounds like plenty of space for 2 birds. Do you have a coop too?

    Can you throw down a bit of straw to help cover some of the mud?
    I had to dig a trench of sorts to funnel the water that flows into my run, it helped keep it in one line rather than all over. But I do have sandy soil and a slope but still put some straw down in front of the pop door.
  3. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Crowing

    Jan 27, 2014
    Central Oregon
    Please post pictures of your setup at different angles, etc. That way we might be able to better advise you on how to rework it!
  4. CCsChickens

    CCsChickens In the Brooder

    Nov 22, 2014
    Sounds funny but I've seen people put up a chicken swing! The videos are hilarious and apparently very popular with chickens and owners, also try things like shell grit to give the chickens something to do and scratch at - like aart said straw will work well to at least cover the mud, hopefully soak it up and again give them something to do. You could also put a crate in or some tree stumps of a small size and put food on top? Anything and everything to give them variety and entertain. My two months old have dirt, bark chips, straw, salad tossed everywhere, food and also I pop in some kitty balls (little hollow plastic balls with bells in them) for them to peck at and investigate. At the end of the day just remind yourself about the lives of battery caged hens - compared to their unfortunate quality of life your hens have got it going pretty good. So long as they have the basics of space (which sounds adequate) food and water that is sufficient. Whatever else is great because it adds to their quality of living. Look up some articles on How To Keep Chickens Entertained, Chicken Toys etc etc! Theres plenty of info out there :) I'm a beginner owner myself but perhaps buy another chicken? Just a suggestion as chickens are flock animals and 2 is a minimal flock - I have 6 little ones at the moment and they love snuggling up to each other sharing food and grooming each other.

    Good luck and I hope my advice helps I really do and at the end of the day if you feel you need to give them up then there's nothing wrong with that! Better to give them to someone who wants to have them than add stress to yourself and guilt!

    (Also my chicks seem to love overripe pears cut in half!)
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2014
  5. tinkymalinky

    tinkymalinky In the Brooder

    Sep 27, 2014
    Thanks for all your helpful suggestions. I'll take some pics tomorrow (it's getting dark here now). I'll definitely put some straw down - stupid that I didn't think of it before.

    I'm reluctant to buy more birds because I don't think there's really room for 4 in this space, and I don't want to bring in just one because I know she'd get bullied. One of mine is very dominant (the white one in the picture) - she's a real velociraptor, and would completely savage a newcomer. I've seen her chase my cat (although admittedly, he is a wimp).

    Might have a go at making a swing!
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    What breeds do you have? If you're not needing high egg production, you might be happier with a more docile breed like a cochin.
  7. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Crowing

    Jan 27, 2014
    Central Oregon
    Or Black Australorps...I just absolutely am in love with mine! They are so friendly, docile, good brown egg layers.
  8. Free Feather

    Free Feather Songster

    Can you let them free range? Maybe expand their run, and give them a friend or two? Just letting them out sometimes makes them SO much happier.
  9. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I'm reading in between the lines in your post, and it seems to me you're more unhappy with your coop/run set-up than you are with the chickens.

    Two years ago, although I've been completely in love with my chickens, I was growing to hate my run more each day. Like yours, it was slapped together, expanded and patched, and was a maze of wings coming off here and there, and the worst feature was that I couldn't stand up in it.

    I began with two adopted hens, so I created a six-foot long run off the 4'x4' coop with hog panels. After I decided to get three chicks, I expanded the run, and tried to cover it to keep hawks from getting the girls, but it was too heavy and caved in. I kept reinforcing, and patching, and finally I said "STOP!" It's time to tear this down and build a run I will love.

    I begged for lumber scraps, and as people heard I was building a new run, they offered me stuff like green house panels and old double glazed glass doors. Since I knew what I didn't want the run to be, I was free to build what I did want. And it turned out spectacular. I built the new run around the old run so the girls were in place during the project. I then dismantled the old run, and built partitions into the new run, adding complexity and the ability to be able to manage behavior problems as they arise. It's worked out great, and the eighteen chickens love it.

    If you want to see photos of the construction, it's on my personal page. Just click on my name above to go there.

    Until you decide what you want to do about your run, you're very wise not to get more chickens. As you're thinking it all over, try to imagine what the ideal number of chickens is that you might someday desire. Then take it from there.
    1 person likes this.
  10. tinkymalinky

    tinkymalinky In the Brooder

    Sep 27, 2014
    I've got one Light Sussex and one Nera. You may be right about the breed, but I've got them now. I don't want more than three hens at a time given the limitations of space.

    Azygous is right, I think - the run is annoying me more than the birds. I spent some time looking at it yesterday and I've decided to do a reshuffle so it doesn't look like such a shanty town. This will also give the birds more space - I tried to keep a separate grass area that they only have access to occasionally, but they're so good at destroying the grass as soon as they get onto it, I think I might as well just give them the whole space and make it feel less cluttered. I can't let them free range completely because it really annoys my partner if he keeps treading in poop, especially when he goes out for a cigarette in the dark! It's only a small garden and they need to share it.

    I was going to take photos but it's pouring with rain, and looks like it'll carry on this way all day. But I'm feeling more optimistic about them now. Next time I've got a dry day off work, I'll rearrange the run and let them destroy the grass bit.

    Thank you all for your help.

    ps. Free Feather, I love your Robinson Jeffers quote. Thanks for sharing it.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: