Why we adore keeping chickens
Having a few hens in your back yard is becoming increasingly popular for good reason. Chickens make wonderful family pets.
Two years ago we decided that we’d expand our little back garden vegetable patch and get some chickens.
It was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
We now have six hens, and they all have very quickly become part of our family. The kids absolutely adore them, and so do we. Not only are they friendly, curious and delightfully funny birds, but they give us eggs every morning too.
Keeping chickens is a great way to help our children forge a connection with where their food comes from, as well as teach them about the responsibility of caring for animals.
So if you too fancy a little flock in your back garden here are a few pointers.
Where to get your chickens
You can buy hens through a breeder or at a livestock auction. Alternatively you could rescue some ex-battery hens through organisations such as the British Hen Welfare Trust.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could even do what we did and buy fertile eggs on ebay and hatch them out yourself. Obviously this takes more work and research, but it was an incredible learning experience for the kids and one I’d recommend to anyone.
A chicken coop should be warm, dry, and fox proof, and have somewhere to both roost and to lay eggs. Other than that its design is really up to you
Whether you choose a modern and trendy eglu or a traditional wooden coop, there are options to suit all tastes and budgets. Even an old converted shed or wendy house can make an excellent coop.
Chickens love to wander around and scratch for food, and the more space you can give them the happier they will be.
We leave our chickens to free range all day, only locking them up at night. However the downside is that they’ve wrecked any hopes we had of a lovingly manicured garden. Where I see a beautiful flowerbed, all my chickens see is prime worm hunting ground.
A good compromise is to build them a sizable run. A minimum of one meter square per chicken is advised, but the bigger the better.
Where to learn more
There’s a wealth of information and support out there for chicken keepers. Here’s some links that we’ve found useful:
Photo - Dan Hughes Dan's son Evan pulling his usual photo pose alongside Beryl, Natalie, Betty, and Ginger the chickens.
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