There is a huge range of chicken breeds to choose from and each will need looking after a little differently, so you will need to get to know your birds.
Some chicken breeds can be bought in full size whilst others are also available in “Bantam” form. Bantams are smaller or even miniature birds.
Because of their smaller size, Bantams tend to be more active than full size birds, but they can certainly be kept for laying. The eggs of a Bantam will tend to be smaller than those of a regular hen, though many people believe the eggs taste better.
Do bear in mind that Bantams will not live quite as long as full sized birds and because of their size, they are more easily targetted by predators
This breed is sometimes known as Amber Star/Amber Link. Silver Link pullets are a medium sized hybrid, with a very docile temperament. They are very inquisitive and a really good “family” bird.
Silver links are mid-sized with dense feathering . They will lay as many as 300 light brown eggs in a year, and will keep on producing for many years.
First off, let’s say something about the economics. You are not going to save yourself a fortune by keeping chickens. The cost of keeping them will eat into the value value of the eggs, however, once you’ve eaten a just-laid egg, there’s no going back. Also, you will probably get a lot of pleasure and amusement from your chickens as they become just like pets.
Needless to say, whilst you are controlling the diet of your chickens, you are also ensuring that the eggs you eat are entirely organic and haven’t been produced with the aid of anti-biotics, pesticides or anything else unwanted.
Of course, keeping chickens is a responsibility, both to them and yourselves. If you have prize plants in the garden, your chickens won’t know the difference between them and a crop of weeds, they’ll dig up anything in their path, also, you’ll need to be careful about their safety, particularly at night. They’ll need safely locking up in their run to avoid predators.
You won’t need masses of space. Just enough room for a coop and secure run, plus some grass/scrub for them to root around in and you’ll have some happy chickens, plus eggs for life. Take advice from Cock & Pullet about the best breed for you.
Lohmanns are a great bird if you are just starting ut as a chicken keeper. They’re a very inquisitive bird and are incredibly friendly. They are placid birds and they will get on well with children. They’ll soon become a part of the family .
A well kept, happy bird can often lay in excess of 300 eggs in a year which could set you up with breakfast for ever more. The Lohmans will lay brown eggs.
If you plan to keep chickens, then you’ll be able to look forward to many years of fresh eggs along with the fun of chicken keeping. But what if you want to add to your stock of chickens?
Of course, you could go and buy another hen, but you could also consider breeding you own.
A couple of points to consider before going down this route though. Firstly, you don’t need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs, however, without a rooster present, the eggs will not be fertile and cannot be used to raise chicks from. Even if a rooster is present, the eggs may still not be fertile, but without one, they definitely won’t.
The other point is that if you breed your own chicks, you may produce males, and they obviously won’t lay eggs, so you are going to have to consider what you will do with them. Do you keep them as part of the group (remember that they can get noisy and aggressive) or do you try to sell them on or even slaughter them. It’s an uncomfortable question, but one you need to consider.
First off, you can of course leave an egg for the hen to brood on, however, though most ens will lay eggs, many are not very broody and they will not bring the egg to successful hatching. Certain breeds are more reliable than others, good breeds to choose include Cochins, Silkies, Brahmas, Sussex and Orpingtons.
On the whole though, you will be more successful if you incubate the eggs manually; in that way you can ensure that they get the attention they need. Remember though, they won’t all be fertile so they won’t all hatch.
If you are a moderately competent DIY type with some basic woodworking skills, it is quite possible to build your own chicken coop and run. There are lots of free plans available on the Internet, so we are not going to get involved in that here. What we are going to do is give you a few pointers as to how to plan for keeping chickens. Obviously, if you find construction a bit daunting, or you just don’t have the time, suppliers (such as ourselves) can provide you with a ready built set up.
The first thing to remember is that what you will be building is a home for your chickens, somewhere that they will probably spend the majority of their time, so keep in mind your chickens’ comfort and well being. A happy chicken will live long and be productive.
The space required will depend on how you are going to keep them (and to some extent the breed). If they are going to reside in the coop and run continuously, they will require more space that if you are going to let them roam in your garden during the day. If you plan to let them roam during the day, about 4 square feet per chicken should suffice, if you plan to keep them in the coop permanently, it will need to be around about 10 square feet each. So, to illustrate coop size,
Make the space too small, and the chickens will squabble and get stressed.
Make sure that the coop is located where it will receive some sunshine at times of the day, but avoid any spot that is continually in the sun. Likewise with breeze, a flow of fresh air is good, so try not to stick them in an unexposed corner. If you have a tree in your garden, then underneath it can be a good place. Because of the smell and the noise, be considerate of your neighbours when you choose a location.
When building the coop, make sure you have a nesting box (for our example of 4 birds, you would really want two nesting boxes). The nesting boxes need to be off the ground by about 1 foot and the box itself should be around a foot wide, a foot deep and a foot high.
Make sure that the coop has at least one window for ventilation and light and ideally at least one perch, because that’s how they prefer to sleep.
Naturally, once you decide to keep some chickens of your own, fresh eggs will be something you can enjoy everyday of the week. If you are still buying them at the supermarket, here’s a way of testing your eggs to make sure they’re fresh if they’ve been around the house a while.
All you need to do is to get a large bowl, clear such as Pyrex is best and fill it with cold water. Place your eggs carefully into the water and watch what happens: