Where to get Chickens for your Garden
and what to look out for
STOP PRESS.. We are in the process of gathering information for a new Chicken and Other Poultry Breeders List. The replies are starting to come back and the lists are / will be found by County Search on the Chicken Breeders UK page
Unless you live in some remote area you're never too far away from a Chicken / Poultry Breeder and a quick look in a Yellow Page will usually point you in the right direction.
Often people have found that keeping Chickens in their Garden isn't quite what they hoped for, so another option is to look through local papers, free ads or even in some of the large Pet Stores now springing up around the place..
If you buy Point of Lay (POL) be aware that this means they are not quite of a laying age, so it could be some weeks before you get Eggs. There is no specific and official age of what Point of Lay is, so it could be the Hens are anywhere from 14 weeks old and upwards. Hens usually start laying around the 20 - 22 weeks mark.
What to look out for when buying Chickens
A good Breeder will have a wide knowledge base of Chicken keeping so ask as many questions as you feel able, especially on the Breed you're buying (see Down the Lane's Guide to Popular Chicken Breeds).
Have a good look round at the Hens available; do they seem healthy, are they running about quite active, are they kept in clean conditions? Always choose the healthiest looking birds, children may try to persuade you to buy the quiet one sitting in the corner, but it could be that's a sign of something not being quite right.
There are some extremely good Poultry Auctions around the Country and even if it's just for an afternoon out, a visit to one is good. The other benefit is that there's usually a lot of people who know what they're talking about and you overhear quite a few interesting observations.
Buying from an Auction though does need a bit of know how. Again, look for the healthy birds, look for good clean smooth legs, bright combs and activity.
Make sure you know your Cockerels from your Hens, 'a pair' is one of each (I made that mistake in my early days!!).
Three's better than Two
Getting three hens is always the best idea, they tend to settle in quicker and should you lose one you're not left with one hen - it's often harder to introduce new Chickens to one rather than more. There's no stopping you getting more than three of course!
It's always best to go through an established Re-Homing Organization than by any other means. The British Hen Welfare Trust and Fresh Start for Hens are good, experienced and know what they're doing.
Remember, in official terms, ex-battery hens are 'spent', they have been farmed to produce eggs at a rapid rate and not all will give you eggs. I say that because I feel I should. My experience is that very few do not lay again, but keep that in the back of your mind.
More about that in the Down the Lane Forum where we have Categories especially for these Hens and notifications of Re-Homing days coming up around the Country