There are few hobbies as rewarding as keeping some laying hens in the back garden. Not only do they amuse you with their antics, their gentle clucking is really quite therapeutic as well. And that's before you even get those wonderful fresh eggs every morning!

Financially, you make a small profit on the deal as well. When you compare the cost of eggs in the shop with what you spend on your own hens and feeding them, you do win on the deal.

Can I have different breeds but kept together? 

Generally yes.  As our hybrids are reared in batches of mixed breeds then it’s not a problem as they are reared together however sometimes we do come across a very timid or bossy hen, and it is obviously best not to select these two hens to live together. 

We recommend our hybrids as they are Friendly , Placid, Hardy and Productive!

 

Are you ready?

The chicken-house should be bought and set up before buying any chickens, and there are several options available for housing so take the time to decide which is the best option.
 
A lockable door or pop-hole is essential to keep out predators such as foxes and cats. Ventilation is important to provide fresh air while preventing draughts, and a run which is partially covered to give some shelter from the weather.
 
In the coop I recommend lining the floor with a hardwearing plastic sheet as this protects the floor but also makes for ease of cleaning! On top of that cover the floor in about 2 cm of wood shavings.
In the nest box put a couple of hand full of straw so the hens can get comfy to lay you an egg!
 
Feeders and drinkers
 
We keep our feeders hung up within the house to ensure the food stays dry and that the hens don't scratch or waste the food, it also helps prevent vermin.
 
The drinker is best raised above ground level on bricks or suspended to prevent the chickens scratching soil and dirt into it, some drinker have foldable legs already on them.
 
 
Day to Day Care
So what do I need to do?
 
There are a variety of brands of food available which provide all of the nutrients that chickens need; this is best provided in a feeder allowing the birds to help themselves. Chickens roughly eat 100/150 gms of food a day. Fresh food including sweet corn, lettuce will also be appreciated, as will grains such as wheat and corn. 
 
Chickens spend most of the day scratching and pecking for food so scatter the fresh food on the ground to allow them to forage; otherwise they can become bored and develop bad habits such as feather pecking. 
 
Fresh water should always be available in a drinker raised above ground level. During the winter months check that the water hasn’t frozen but also be mindful that during hot weather they will drink more!
 
Grit to aid digestion and crushed oyster shell to provide calcium used in the production of the egg shell also need to be given in a separate container, Mixed grit contains both of these.
 
When it comes to cleaning them out people take different approaches the 2 main ones being “poo picking” the coop and adding more bedding if necessary everyday then a complete clean once a month. The second approach is just doing a complete clean weekly. Its up to you how you clean the coop as long there is clean, dry bedding.
  

Chicken Behaviour

Chickens are social animals that develop a ‘pecking order’, with the dominant birds controlling movement, feeding and socialisation of those less dominant.

Some of the most common behaviour shown by chickens is -

Broodiness:  A hen will sit on the nest box making it unavailable to other hens. This is useful if there are fertile eggs needing incubation, otherwise temporary separation can be used to stop this behaviour.

Feather pecking:  Sometimes hens will attack other birds, even drawing blood. The priority is to treat the victim with a veterinary antiseptic.  If the problem persists, remove the culprit into a temporary pen within sight of the other birds.  Hopefully the separation will cure the problem.

Moulting:  Old feathers are shed and new feathers grow to replace them.  It usually happens around once a year and the new feathers take around seven weeks to grow. This can be a stressful time for the birds and vitamin supplements will help provide the necessary nutrients.

 

For those that are getting started for the first time, we offer brilliant starter packs that have everything you need including the hens!

We can do a starter pack on any of our houses. Prices start from £250.