Chickens or eggs?
As we all strive for a more natural, back to nature approach to our lives and a desire to eat local and free range products, chickens are an increasingly common sight in residential gardens – they’re no longer just for farmers!
So, if you have been considering getting chickens for your own garden, here is a bit more information to help you make up your mind –
How much space is needed to keep chickens?
Each chicken requires a space of 25cm Sq as a minimum for their sleeping area, and 3m sq for their exercise area – if your garden is big enough, you can get a chicken coop (pre fabricated, or DIY Build) for your feathered friends. However, if you love your luscious green lawn, Chickens are probably not for you – they will destroy it! This is equally true of your neighbours garden – so if you decide to get chickens – make sure that the dividing fence is secure and that your chickens won’t be able to get into their garden (it makes for much better neighbourly relations!)
Can I legally keep chickens in my garden?
You might need to check with your local authority – the rules differ between local councils. Before committing yourself to homing some chickens, you should ask the local Environmental Health team if there are any restrictions. You may also want to check the deeds for your property to ensure that no exclusion clauses exist in relation to the birds.
After that, it’s probably a neighbourly thing to do to check with your immediate neighbours that they have no objections to you keeping chickens.
If you intend to get more than 50 chickens, you’ll need to register with DEFRA.
How will you look after your chickens?
Whilst chickens are hardly high maintenance, they do rely on your for EVERYTHING they need. You will need to consider where you will purchase their feed from, how you will keep them safe from foxes, who will clean out their sleeping quarters? (regularly – to avoid complaints of smell!) If you have regular holidays, or weekends away – who will look after the chickens for you? You will also need to harvest the eggs regularly (if your chickens are happy!) – so another job to add to the list.
What sort of chickens should we get?
The answer to this question lies in not only the space that you have available but also what you want to achieve from your chickens – Leghorns need less space on the whole and produce large white eggs. Rhode island reds are prolific layers too – producing a brown egg. Orpingtons are another good layer – another (light) brown egg.
If this has piqued your interest in homing some chickens, more information and advice can be found on the British Hen Welfare Trust Website – http://www.bhwt.org.uk/