Having hens has been the most enjoyable experience of moving to a house with a garden. They are great pets – I know people suggest that you shouldn’t name or get too attached to your hens, but we did. We named them all and loved them like we do any of our pets. And they have all thrived, produce eggs daily and are our biggest fans. Infact, they are even a bit too cheeky now that they all live in luxury. We have an extra-large garden, which means we have made an enclosure for them so they can run around free (but safely) all day long.
We have both battery hens and a range of farm hens. And have been keeping them for 2 years now. We have picked up some hints and tips along the way which I thought would be great to share with you!
You really don’t need a lot of room for hens. A patch of grass will do! They are so rewarding. They provide such fun and great eggs. Nothing beats free range eggs than from your own garden:
- Apple cider vinegar : put a dash into their water once every so often perks up your hens, gives a feeling of refreshed wellbeing and also cleans them out from the inside. It gets rid of any bacteria.
- Egg shells : Bake and crush your eggs shells once you use them. They are a great substitute for buying pigeon grit. (Which is hard to get). The shells are good for their gullets, they have no teeth and often need assistance to help their food digest.
- Invest in a good quality house. Perches have to be higher than the laying boxes, which often isn’t the case with cheaper hen houses. A good quality house is beneficial for safety and also shelter.
- Don’t over crowd the houses. Houses that are too full may cause friction within the hen group and aggression. We have three houses for 13 hens which gives them space and choice.
- Sunflower seeds and dried corn are a great afternoon treat. It gives them something to forage for.. something they are built to do. It keeps them busy and their minds busy too! We also give them fresh corn as a weekly treat which helps produce bright yokes! (no yoke enhancers needed here!)
- Fox proofing. This seems like a silly thing to mention, but foxes are cleverer than we even know. We have our chicken wire dug deep down into the soil to prevent the fox digging under. Always check over your wire to make sure there are no breakages or gaps.
- A bail of fresh straw will give them hours of pleasure. They tear it apart themselves (again to forage) and they will spread it around the way they like it. An afternoon of fun.
- Worm your hens once a year. Keep them healthy.
- If you have a broody hen.. remove the hen as many times as you can from the nesting box. Try cool them down and make sure they eat and drink. Lift them up and let them flap their wings. Hens can overheat and dehydrate in their broody process. Broodyness generally lasts 21 days. (from experience)
- Teach them to sit on your shoulder. There is no greater party trick than teaching your little hen to sit on your shoulder like a trusty pirate parrot.
Happy hen keeping!x
I have been really eager to show you all our new hens. As you know, we have moved to a countryside cottage and rescued some battery hens. You can read that story, here. Rescuing the battery hens was a really traumatic experience – which was the complete opposite of our new little french hens.
Believe it or not, this is the only picture I could get. They wouldn’t stay still and are actually a little camera shy!
They are only babies, which means they aren’t at laying age yet. However, it’s been that long since I was meant to post this that I think their laying date is fast approaching.
French hens lay teeny tiny little eggs, which I am so excited to start having for my breakfast. It’s an amazing feeling being able to go and collect your eggs and eat them whilst they are still warm – You really can’t get any more organic if you tried! hehe.
These hens had all their feathers when they arrived because they had been kept on a farm and looked after. They are the cutest colours – a black speckled one, an orangey one, two white ones, and a yellowy one. (Sorry for the scientific terms I used there..;)).
I am so happy that we are able to give a home to such lovely animals. Now, we are the loopy family with a zoo in their garden. 10 hens, a rabbit, two cats and a dog. eek!
Originally, I had planned to do a post all about something special that we have rescued. After this post, I planned on doing another post about something that the first post subject does – but I didn’t expect it to happen so fast. Okay, I’ll spill the beans.
Ten days ago, we felt that it was our duty (having a big garden now) to rescue some Battery Hens. We did so via the BHWT and were given a time and place where we could pick them up. Seeing the hens for the first time was an extrememly traumatic experience that we will never forget – they had no feather and their combs were a pale pale yellow. (They are ment to be a vibrant red.) If it wasn’t upsetting enough seeing their condition, we also knew that these little girls had never seen sunlight, grass or felt the rays of a hot day as they sunbathed. Which, I feel, is the saddest thing.
We built up a hen house with a luxury nesting box, perches and a long run for them to play all day in. And they are improving rapidly! We are slowly building them up with special tonic in their waters that makes them strong and healthy, feeding them highly nutritious foods and making them a delicious array of snacks throughout the day. My mum has been making them pasta dishes galore – and they love cornflakes, seeds, all vegetables and bread. So really, they are in complete paradise in their new home.
You can really feel their appreciation for their new surroundings. They are shimmying their bottoms on the grass, and spreading their wings so they can sunbathe. They are real characters and we can’t believe how much we have fallen in love with them. (Gertie, Jessie, Hermione, Matilda and Nancy. Nancy is the weakest of the lot and she is also mine. She is steadily improving.)
The ultimate way to show their appreciation is to lay eggs. Although, we have been told that this could take a long time – if they lay at all. Forums and websites suggested that when they felt that they were strong enough, they would lay. And this morning..We’ve got mail.
P.s. They were really delicious. <3