What is sufficient space?
As a starting point, bear in mind that today’s chickens arose from jungle birds and although domesticated, their behavioural needs have changed little over the past ten thousand years, they like to keep busy, walking, scratching, running, flying, exploring, foraging and dust bathing. This mental and physical activity helps to keep the birds strong and fit like athletes, avoiding most of the common health problems that afflict garden hens.
The statutory ground space requirement for commercial organic free range hens is 10M²per bird and this should be used as a guide for the construction a permanent run in a large garden or field but for a small city garden or for keepers with limited space their stock can be managed using a small predator proof run for short periods, but allowing the birds to free range in the garden for most of the day, fencing in valuable seed beds and vegetables instead of the chickens. A small garden with shrubs, bushes, hedges, and places to forage and dust bathe can often provide more interest and reason for activity than a large open field.
If confined to a small run for long periods, chickens are prevented from enjoying normal behaviour, they will fail to flourish, suffer continual mental stress and live a shorter life. Typical egg related problems in these birds are egg binding, prolapses, peritonitis and a range of respiratory infections which often spread to the reproductive system causing soft shells and other egg related problems.
Other health issues can usually be prevented by good poultry management, housing, ventilation, and ground care if a run is used, but if in doubt customers are encouraged to contact with us at the earliest opportunity if concerned about any physical of behavioural issues.