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    I live in a traditional mid terrace and the side of my house is practically wasted, just a pathway coming from the middle reception room and a 2ft garden border.

    Total area is 9m x 2m approximately.

    Is this big enough for a few chickens or ducks? Would I be encouraging rats into the garden?

    Anything else I could do with the wasted space?
    we have had chicken (and other fowl) for years and never had a problem with rats. Foxes, pine martins and eagles yes - rats no.

    Even in urban areas you will need to make the enclosure fox proof or lock them up at night. Ducks are messy and will quickly turn the area into a quagmire. Chickens are a good option and are a good use for kitchen scraps and peelings which can be supplemented with a bit of grain to help with the egg production (or to get them to table weight, depending upon the type). Grain can be put into a feeder and the scraps on the ground but the uneaten scraps should be periodically cleared away to the compost heap.

    Cockerels are not necessary for egg production and only have a cockerel if you need an alarm clock AND have sympathetic or deaf neighbours
    • CommentAuthorCharli
    • CommentTimeAug 1st 2017
    Be aware that it is illegal to feed scraps to chickens... which we all obviously pay attention to... of course....

    That is enough room for a fewchickens, you'll need to make it fox proof- chicken wire is not fox proof, I'd recommend weld mesh (heras panels are good but need to be dug down into the ground a good foot).

    I keep chickens in an urban environment, with the garden backing onto a school field. We get rats. We had rats before we got chickens though. They do break into the run and eat the chicken food, so it means I have to put the chicken food away in a steel dustbin every night, and get it out every morning (no late lie ins!). In winter I also trap and drown rats (you can't release them). I won't use rat poison as the hedgehogs or whatever will end up eating it.

    Have kept ducks in the past- they turn everything into mud very quickly. They're quieter than chickens (even hens), but smell more and need more cleaning. They don't need a pond but they do need enough water to dunk their heads into- I found this took more maintenance than the chicken waterers. Indian runner ducks are hilarious though.

    Even urban (I live in a big industrial estate) I have a problem with buzzards- they eat my bantams if given the chance. I've also had problems with the postman letting a random dog through my gate who then attacked my chickens- so it isn't just the wild animals you have to watch out for.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeAug 1st 2017
    Check you deeds first too
    I have no grass, is there a preference to keeping chickens or ducks? Do they need to be covered in the day?

    I read a trio of ducks is a good starter combination. I was thinking of using wood clippings for flooring, a small pond area made from a preformed container. And a self build coop for the night with a small run attached.

    Which breed is best with children? 8 & 2
    If you want duck eggs then I would suggest Khaki Campbells. (meat production animals can sometimes be a difficult explanation for urban kids and the parents have to be ready to do the deed as well) They are good produces of eggs and are a generally a friendly breed. (they look a bit like mallards from whom they get some genetic input)
    An old shower tray with a couple of bricks in it (as steps to get out) will be fine as a pond.

    For chickens, I have found that the larger breeds are better with kids than bantams - and do not have a cockerel as they can be too protective of their territory and it does hurt when they attack from behind. For the breed perhaps Marans would be a good start and whilst they are dual purpose birds they lay large dark brown eggs and are also typically quite friendly. If you want maximum egg production then go for a modern hybrid egg producing chicken.

    Both ducks and chicken will benefit from getting greenery. (we all need our veggies) For feed I have found that greenery (ad lib if you can) and some sort of grain works fine. Layers pellets from the bag is the expensive way to do it!

    Ducks are messy and create mud, chickens are tidyier and dryer but perhaps not so much fun to watch

    Protection from predators will be needed and some cover should be available all the time e.g. access to their
    sleeping quarters during the day (where in any event the nest boxes will probably be). Oh and chickens will lay in nest boxes but ducks are less fussy and tend to lay where they are at the time.

    Wood chippings for bedding will work but they take a long time to compost down, straw is quicker, but any dry vegetable matter will do providing it is not too stalky.
    • CommentAuthorCharli
    • CommentTimeAug 2nd 2017
    Wood chip flooring will be fine- the hens will scratch through it quite happily. They don't need to be on grass, but they do need greens to eat (hang up a whole cabbage and it'll take them a few days to eat it). They'll also need a dust bath (plastic contained of sand under cover). Any hand-reared hen will be friendly, and usually used to being petted or picked up or whatever. Chicken-reared hens usually avoid being touched, but will come close and eat out of your hand and things.

    I second khaki campbells for eggs. Just for amusement I love muscovies- they actively chase and eat flies and its brilliant to watch, or indian runners- their waddle is hilarious. With ducks be prepared for the pond to be changed every day- or for you to look at a muddy pool (the ducks don't care if it is muddy).

    For either if you have foxes I'd keep them in a secure run- even in the day, unless you're around to provide deterrent (or have dogs or something?). Mine stay in a big run whilst I am at work, and are let out to roam the garden in the evening whilst I'm in the garden, or the neighbours dogs are out- as foxes appearing in the middle of the day isn't unusual.
    Ducks will be filthy, and are hard to slaughter (I am told). If no pond you will end up replacing their drinking ng water very often.

    If you gave ducks and chickens they will need to be kept separate.

    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeAug 2nd 2017
    Like Peter and Charli I've had both hens and ducks for years, but before you venture into keeping livestock you really need to ask yourself why, after of course doing all the obvious checking as tony said.
    Do you want fowl simply as pets?, or for eggs, or for meat? As others have said this will affect your breed choice. Go to any local poultry auction market and you'll find many sellers offer their lots as "trios", two hens and a cock bird. You'll quickly incur the wrath of neighbours if you end up with a cock bird. Some varieties are easier to handle too, some are very flighty, often the better egg layers. Others look pretty but are next to useless as regular egg producers, although frequent handling from young does sometimes help.
    Likewise some ducks, call ducks for instance, can drive you mad in spring and early summer starting at the crack of dawn.
    Personally, I'm a bit uncomfortable with the plot size you have available. Both hens, and ducks especially will quickly poach it so it'll look like a moonscape, not fun after a decent rainstorm. Animal welfare comes into play and your 9M x 2M won't be that size when you take off the hut footprint and possibly/ideally a daytime covered area.
    As for rats, I differ from others, and my answer is yes, they will get attracted, possibly flies too. It's in the nature of keeping livestock. You'll have to be scrupulously clean in maintenance too, so as not to irritate neighbours.
    As a start the birds will need about 0.2 M2 of coop space per bird and a minimum of 0.5 M2 run space. The larger breeds will need a bit more and the smaller ones less. If you only have say 2 birds then 1M2 wont be enough for the run, however for 6 birds 3M2 would be enough for the run but don't expect anything growing to survive and at that size it will be their exercise yard

    Search google for ideas and sizes - you will be able to read most of the various regulations about space from free range organic downwards. It will give you an idea of what works and what is acceptable.

    My ducks geese chickens and pigeons all have the same wired area without problems but it is big enough for everyone to have their own space without conflict. If you are having close to the minimum space then different types will need to be separate. I have 80m2 for about 20 various birds with the pigeons spending most of their time on high level shelves provided and the rest mooch around on the ground
    • CommentAuthorMarkyP
    • CommentTimeAug 2nd 2017 edited
    I'd agree on concerns there's enough space. I keep hens, they are much, much happier when allowed to free range over a large area. I only confine ours at night and then it's a 5m x 2m metal mesh enclosed run with an ark inside, this is for just 6 birds. They can get bored when confined in a small area constantly, they start picking on each other, and generally showing signs of stress. Also when allowed to free range over a wide area the egg quality is far superior, they get a natural diet of worms, slugs, grubs, grass, berries, whatever they can forage. I dont think you have enough space.

    It's not just cockerels that can upset the neighbours, hens will "sing" after laying. Some breeds do this more than others. Sing is a misnomer, it's a right cacophony and will cause just as much annoyance as a cockerel. All our hybrids sing after laying. loudly.

    hybrids tend to be more consistent layers year round, some breeds will only give you eggs April to Sept.
    • CommentTimeAug 2nd 2017
    We don't have hens. My parents kept them for a while and that put me off. My wife says she wants some but fortunately several of our neighbours have them, so common sense, or is it idleness, rules the day. The neighbours' hens are rescue hens - I'm surprised nobody's mentioned them yet. See e.g. https://poultrykeeper.com/rehoming-battery-hens/ex-battery-hens-for-sale/
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 2nd 2017 edited
    We've had chickens and ducks for several years. 2m * 9m is fine for a few chickens but I would avoid ducks due to the mess they make.

    You could get away with a small chicken house and run like this sort of thing..
    .and let them free range during the day.

    However we lost a few to foxes doing that. They will also wander quite far. In the end I built a 6ft fence around our chicken area but the foxes still got over that so I had to put mesh on the roof as well.

    Use hanging feeders like this to discourage rats.

    You may still get some but they are soon sorted using poison bait in boxes the chickens can't get to... http://www.cotswoldchickens.com/ekmps/shops/cotswoldchick/images/plastic-hanging-feeders-[2]-226-p.jpg
    If you can find them use a metal version as the plastic sort degrade in the sun with time.

    There are lots of places to buy ready to lay chickens but it's quite fun to buy fertilised eggs over the internet and hatch them yourselves in a kitchen corner. This can be quite difficult because you have to control the humidity so an incubator is required. The success rate can vary a lot.

    One alternative to get one chicken, wait until it's broody and put some fertilised eggs under it. When we decided to get ducks we put fertilised duck eggs under a broody chicken and the result was..
      Ducks small.jpg
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 2nd 2017
    Cute eh?
      IMG_3627 small.jpg
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeAug 2nd 2017
    When planning the run bear in mind it can be useful to be able to separate one or more chickens from the rest. For example old chickens will attack new chickens or chicks until the pecking order is established. In severe cases you may have to separate chickens for awhile and try mixing them again later when a bit older. If you can't do that stick to buying all your chickens at the same time/place.

    Even yard ducks really need enough water to splash about in. Something like this at the very least.


    They will make that water muddy in 60 seconds! You really need a drain handy so you can tip the muddy water out and replace it daily. If you have to tip the water onto the ground you will make a lot of mud.

    An electricity supply can be handy in winter. I used a fish tank heater to stop the chicken water freezing over.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeAug 2nd 2017
    I've had ex battery hens and generally they're ok for a while, occasionally a couple of years or longer, ( can be pot luck), until they end up just "decorating " the yard when their natural egg laying drops off. If that's what you want, (pets), then choose the fancy breeds but they are more often the "soft feathered" types and you need to provide much more weather shelter. The more hardy breeds can be wayward and wander off if not confined. the very best eggs are from hens that have adequate space, ideally some grass, good food, and stress free, as Marky says.
    By the time you've equipped yourself, bought decent stock, not cheap, provided good food, organic if you feel that way, you'll soon realise it may be cheaper to go to Waitrose etc. and buy the very best eggs they have.
    To do the job right and get good results the commitment is not inconsiderable.
    • CommentAuthorMikC
    • CommentTimeAug 3rd 2017
    I keep both meat birds and layers and by far the best thing I ever bought was a treadle feeder. Zero waste of pellets, totally rat proof, only needs topping up every fortnight.
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