“What do i need to get started?”
The chicken coop, there are loads to choose from online. You could pay as little as £100 but you get what you pay for. In my experience the Economy coups whilst cheap to get you up and running don’t have a long use life, and you’ll find yourself replacing it. In my opinion you’re better off spending a little more and getting those made from strong treated timber which has come from sustainable sources. In the long run it will work out cheaper.
Bedding, there are many options wood shaving to straw to the Aubiose (Cultivated Hemp). Straw/Hay aren’t really ideal for poultry they can be dusty and scratchy. I would recommend either Sawdust/Wood Chip (with dust extracted) or the Auboise. Woodchip will cost you around £7.50 for a 25Kg Bail, whereas auboise about £9 for a 20Kg bail. Auboise has the added benefit in that in composts in around 8 weeks.
Hygiene, as with any animal keeping the house clean, fresh and bug free is essential. You’ll need a good hard bristle brush, a poultry disinfectant (there and many too choose from, but much the same) and a good pair of gardening gloves. Coups should be cleaned weekly, with a deep clean every 6-8 weeks
Parasite & Pests, two main things to look out for are Worms & Mites. Chickens should be treated for worms every six months (Autumn & Spring) i always use flubenvet. Mites should be treated regular, with each clean of the house add some diatomaceous earth onto the floor and into the nooks and crannies. Additionally a quick puff around the chickens vent once a month is also a good habit to get into.
Drinkers/Feeders, You have to make two decisions here Plastic or Galvanized and how Big. I recommend galvanized they will last you and wont crack on you during the winter months. The size of your drinker depends on the number of chooks, allow 1litre of water per chicken. With feeders, a chicken will consume between 80-120g of food per day. Starting with 3 hens I would recommend a 1 Gallon Drinker and 2Kg Feeder.
Feed, There are many brands on the market from mainstream commercial feed to small holders range to organic. I’ve always used fancy feeds, whilst a little dearer than most you do get a 50p off next purchase token in each 20kg bag of feed. Like i said early you’ll need 80-120g of layers pellets per hen per day. It’s also good to feed you chickens some corn, don’t add this to their feeder; give them a small handful per hen (about an egg cup) in the afternoons.
Supplements, to keep you hen’s health it’s good to add tonics to their drinking water. There are a few options to choose from, i generally use apple cider vinegar or a crushed clove of garlic. (Ensure you change water daily and avoid mixing tonics)
So in short you’ll need (for 3 hens)
1 x chicken Coop
1 x bail of Bedding
1 x Bottle of poultry disinfectant
1 x hard Bristle brush
1 x bag of layer pellets
1 x bag of mixed corn
1 x 1gallon drinker
1 x 2Kg feeder
1 x Tub flubenvet 1%
1 x Bag of diatomaceous earth
1 x Bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar
Garlic cloves or Garlic Power