Chickens For Your Garden
I started 20 years
ago with three hens and was soon addicted. Getting up in the morning wondering if I would have my first egg and 20
years later I still have that same excitement. No garden is too small for a few hens.
The basic requirements are:
• Suitable safe housing
• Somewhere warm and dry to sleep
• An area to scratch about in the open.
Feed is readily available from local farm shops and even most pet shops. Layers pellets and
mixed corn are ideal, a few scraps of left over veg from the kitchen i.e. greens and stale
Chickens come in all shapes sizes and colours from fancy breeds to
Bantams and all hens lay eggs but some much more than others.
Old fashion breeds such as Light Sussex and Rhode Island Reds are old favourites and lay very
well but the best layers of all, in my opinion, are the plain brown hens used for battery keeping, i.e. Isa
Brown and Warren.
I buy mine at “Point of Lay” 19 weeks old for £5 each as against £15 for most other
Hens do not need to have a cockerel especially for town gardens, if you want to stay friends
with your neighbours but if you want to breed then a cockerel is essential. A hen will sit for approximately
24 days but the chances of hatching all cockerels is a risk you have to be prepared for and not always easy
to find homes for!
Bantams are a small chicken good for small
areas and are very pretty. Egg production is much less than the larger breeds but they still
The varieties of bantams are endless such as Pekin and Belgium D’Anvers, which are personal
favourites of mine. Their requirements are just as for the larger hens. Eggs are small but VERY
If you decide to rear birds for the table it can be very rewarding but not for the faint
hearted. Despatching a bird is not for everyone but the rewards are great. Eating your own fee range chicken
is second to none. “The taste is wonderful”.
There are several types of meat birds you can buy as “Day Old Chicks”, they are very vulnerable
and need a clean dry area with a heat lamp for about six weeks. Chick crumbs and water should be available ad
I have tried two types of meat birds firstly Ross Cobs and secondly Atlas. The first is a
genetically modified bird that has much more breast meat than leg meat but after about six to eight weeks
find it hard to walk and I was not at all keen. The second, Atlas, was much better and I had 10lb (+4Kgs) in
16 weeks that were happy to run around.
The best way for me though and one I am about to try is to get an Indian Game Cockerel and
Wyandotte hens. These are large birds and I will be incubating the eggs myself with my trusty
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