Chickens in the garden

Chickens: how to keep your own hens and get free eggs

04 October 2019
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Have you ever considered owning your own hens?

Food prices are on the rise and eating well, especially if you’re a die-hard organic disciple, is getting more expensive. This is prompting people across the country to have a go at growing their own food and keeping animals for food.

If you think you could handle a small foray into the world of farming, chickens are a great place to start. They can cost almost nothing to buy and are one of the cheapest farm animals to maintain. Bear in mind though, they will need a bit of love. You even have the choice of keeping them just for their eggs, or rearing them for – eek – slaughter to have your very own organic and free-range chicken.

Getting started

Your Own Hens

The first thing you need to do to is to check with your local authority that there are no restrictions on having livestock on your property. Or on the property where you intend to keep the birds, in fact. You’ll need enough space for at least two hens, because solitary chickens are not happy chickens. However, you’ll need between four and six birds to provide a family with a steady supply of eggs.

What you’ll need

Once you’ve got the green light, you will need some equipment to keep your hens safe and healthy. You also need to secure your chickens as foxes, badgers and other predators will be quick to ruin your organic dream, if you don’t take precautions.

Accommodation

They’ll need a hen house, which should be cleaned once a week. A house of about 1.2m by 1.8m in size should be ample space for four to six chickens as they will only sleep in it. You can buy one of these ready made, or you can build one yourself. You’ll need to have at least one nesting box per four chickens, as they won’t all lay at the same time. You will also need enough perches for the rest of your chickens. You also need to consider how easy the house is to clean and move, as you will need to do both of these things.

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