Silkie chickens are amazing looking birds. No-one seems to know exactly where they originated. Some say China, others say Japan or India. Either way they have the most unusual feathers of any other chicken. There are various types of Silkies with some having just crests, others have beards and muffs. They come in large fowl and bantam versions. Ours are USA Silkies which are a smaller version of the bantam. The Silkies we have here are multiple colours from gold, gold partridge, gold blue partridge, black, white and lavender. They have crests, beards and muffs so are called bearded Silkies.
Silkie feathers are more like hair and it makes them unable to fly. The wing feathers are more twisted than regular wing feathers so they cannot get much lift, if at all. The beard, muff and crest can obscure the eye so they are more easily surprised and skittish than other chickens. Due to poor eyesight, they may not eat or drink much. A careful trim is helpful to give them a better chance to see. They are not big eaters anyway.
Silkies have black skin, 5 toes, and a mulberry comb which is both mulberry coloured and shaped like a cushion. The male has a larger mulberry than the hen. Wattles are very small and the ear lobe is a bright blue.
This hen is a good broody, as they fall broody often during the year. So much so that they might rarely been seen out of the nestbox. Silkie cockerels are somewhat defensive simply because of their poor visibility. They are always on their guard. A trim tends to sort this behaviour, as once they can see properly they know what they are up against.
Care Needs of A Silkie
Silkies are not good in a mixed flock due to their timid nature brought on by poor vision. Their feather is very fine and should not get wet. Feathered feet are also prone to picking up lots of mud in unsuitable ground conditions. An ideal Silkie habitat is clean, dry, mud free and only with other Silkies for company.
Silkies are not good at mixing with other chickens or rather they are not safe with larger chickens. They are quiet and curious. Due to their broodiness, they need care to avoid being malnourished in repeated broody episodes. See our blog article on broody behaviour
The USA Silkie is a small bird. Probably about the size of a pigeon.
This chicken is classed as a poor layer of small eggs. Our Silkies lay about 10 eggs on consecutive days and then stop for a few months at a time.
If you would like to know more about keeping chickens and which are good equipment choices then consider our online courses.
How to choose a chicken is a question that many people ask us. This is a huge topic. There are many many different breeds of chicken, and within those breeds there are many colour variations. For example: the Sussex chicken, comes in white, coronation, red, speckled, light, buff and silver. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder because not all hens are brown. It is nice to get a variety of hens for your garden flock, either to be able to tell them apart or just for interest. Garden hens don’t need to be kept in flocks of the same type or colour. Chickens are not focussed on colour or breed differences. Their society is much more complex than that but at the same time, refreshingly simple.
Our advice is always this:- choose your chicken based on what you like the look of. Almost all chickens will lay eggs, some more than others. Egg numbers depends on the breeding, age, health status and the time of year. Show chickens tend to lay less because they have been selected for breeding based on beauty, not egg numbers.
Which hens lay the most eggs
It is all too easy to get hung up on doing your research on how many eggs a hen will produce. Choosing a chicken this way comes under the banner of “how long is a piece of string”. Sure, a commercial hybrid such as a Warren or a Hy-line brown will lay an egg virtually every day but they will only do so up to the age of about 72 weeks. After that you will get a very diminishing return. A pure breed will lay fewer eggs, but over their laying lifetime, they could well lay the same number in total but over a longer period. It’s horses for courses. Hybrids will generally live fast die young, but pure breeds are more slow and steady wins the race.
We actually think that the value of a chicken is worth more than what they produce. They have hidden depths which are revealed to their lucky keepers as time goes by. Eggs are exceedingly fresh, very delicious and exciting to receive as a gift from your hens, but it will eventually dawn on you that hens are way more than just a quirky garden ornament. Choosing the right chicken for you is a matter of personal preference.
A chicken can be summed up as
Interested in you
Accepting of affection
Provider of purpose to lost souls
Provider of the most delicious eggs
Ambassadors for all birdkind
Garden designers extraordinaire
Source of mirth and joy
This is a very concise list but I could go on and on, but I will leave that up to you. Once you have discovered the joy of chicken keeping, you will be able to compile your own list. Some of the items on my list will I am sure find their way onto your list too.
The following describes the history of the Norfolk Grey and was lifted straight from the Rare Breed Survival Trust website. The breed was developed by Fred Myhill of Norwich between 1910 and 1912 under the name Black Marias. He went off to fight in the First World War but came back to find all his work undone. He started again and then took them to the 1920 Dairy Show. In about 1925 he changed the name to the more appealing Norfolk Grey. They were mainly the result of a cross breed between Silver Birchen Game and Duckwing Leghorns.
Unfortunately this bird, which was developed as a hardy utility breed, never really caught on. In the 1970s stocks therefore reportedly dwindled to just 4 birds which were then acquired by Andrew and Sue Bowden. This quiet hen is a black bird but with a beautiful beetle green sheen to its feathers. It has silver neck hackles and small but refined head with a single comb and small wattles. They are a fairly upright breed with dark grey or black coloured legs. The males are black in the body and have abundant white/silver neck feathers. As a breed they are not particularly broody however which could be why it is so rare.
The Norfolk Grey has a quiet and fairly timid nature so they are unlikely to cause a problem with their coop mates in a mixed flock.
A Norfolk Grey is classified as a large fowl – light
Eggs of Norfolk Grey
This chicken should lay between 200 and 220 medium brown or tinted eggs in their first laying year. The eggs are a good size too.
Marsh Daisy chickens were developed in Lancashire from a number of breeds such as Hamburg, Leghorn, Malay, Old English Game and Sicillian Buttercups. They thrived on marsh lands which is why it ended up with the name. It is very rare and the colours are now not as exact as they were in the breed’s heyday. It fell out of favour at one stage but a pocket of dedicated followers have revived its fate.
This breed is a small to medium-sized but slender bird which is most often seen in the Wheaten colour. There is also a brown, white and black version but they are even rarer and many think they are now extinct. The wheaten is a soft cream colour on the breast with a slightly darker brown wings and back. The legs are willow green and the earlobes are white. A Marsh Daisy has a rosecomb. It is considered a fault if the Marsh Daisy has any ginger colouring, but with so few examples it is tricky to get a bird that conforms to the standard required by the Poultry Club of Great Britain.
The Marsh Daisy hens we have are bred by a dedicated breeder who supplies his surplus hens to us for re-homing. They have not quite made the grade of the breed standard as he strives to improve the quality of his lines. Nevertheless they are still good examples.
Marsh Daisy Temperament
They are a very active bird which makes them undesirable to some people. They can fly well so are likely to need wing clipping to keep them out of harm’s way. If they are well handled when young they can be positively velcro-like and totally trusting. They are non-aggressive. Marsh Daisy cockerels can be very over amorous to the hens if you keep more than one boy at a time.
The Marsh Daisy is classified as large fowl – light.
A small tinted egg is produced by the Marsh Daisy. They are really good layers despite the small size of the egg
The Hedgerow Blacktail Bluetail is a lovely and friendly hen that’s just a little bit different. She has been produced from specially selected highly productive strains of Sussex and Rhode Island Red. Similar to a Columbian colouration but with a slight variation. The Rhode Island Red cockerel has had his wicked way with Light Sussex and Coronation Sussex hens. This means that the Coronation colouration is coming out in a lot of these with the blue neck and blue tail. Some are more Blacktailed with black round the neck. She makes a traditional and yet interesting addition to any flock of garden hens. The Blacktail is identical in appearance to the Brown Rock, but have not come from the Muirfield Hatchery in Scotland
Blacktail and Bluetails are calm, inquisitive and friendly. She can be very attentive, especially when she is on the lookout for a treat. Just try to pick up a spade to do some digging and these hens will appear out of nowhere to take a very keen interest in your efforts.
A Hedgerow Blacktail or Bluetail is classified as large fowl – light. They mix well with breeds of a similar size except very timid birds.
Blacktail Bluetail Eggs
She will be expected to produce 180 to 200 large brown eggs in her first laying year. The eggs will start off quite small but will increase in size as the hen matures.
More info on our birds for sale can be found here. If you are looking to join us on one of our courses please check out our courses page
Ixworths are one of the rarest breeds in the UK but in our opinion one of best. We are very fortunate to have been able to source some excellent breeding stock.
Ixworth Breed Description
The Ixworth was created some time ago by Reginald Appleyard who also designed some other chickens and ducks. Ixworths are pure white with white legs and a pea comb. They also have small wattles in the hen and quite small wattles in the cockerel. They are a solidly built bird with a neat head and beady eye.
The Ixworth breed was created by Reginald Appleyard, starting in 1931 and launched at the 1938 London Dairy Show, and named after the Suffolk village of his birth.
His aim was to produce a top quality, fast maturing table bird that would also lay more and avoid the other utility problems associated with the Indian Game breed.
Breeds used in its make included White Sussex, White Orpington, White Minorca, White Old English Game, Jubilee and Dark Indian Game.
The breed nearly went extinct in the 1950s as faster growing hybrid broilers arrived. Rare breed conservationists began to revive Ixworth’s in the 1970s and now there are now about 20 enthusiastic breeders but only four exhibitors.
The Ixworth is a deep-bodied, medium to large breed. They are solid and heavy.
Birds should have white legs with a pinkish tinge, orange eyes, a red pea comb and hold their tail fairly low
Ixworth is only in one colour, white.
This breed has small wattles in the hen. The comb and wattles on the cockerel are also quite small.
An Ixworth is a dual purpose chicken. This means it is suitable for egg production or a table bird. It is white fleshed and some say it provides the best quality meat of any pure breed. However like most pure breeds it is best to prepare for the table at no more than 12-14 months. Depending on the strain the Ixworth hen should produce about 150-180 medium-sized off-white/cream eggs in a year.
Ixworth Breed Temperament
As a breed in general Ixworths are a mild mannered chicken. Both the hens and cockerels are good in a mixed flock with no behavioural problems. The Ixworth hen is a really sweet chicken, because they are not aggressive at all in a flock. Ixworths are quite chatty but I have noticed that their voice and phrasing is different to other chickens. The Ixworth cockerels in particular are lovely. Both males and females are somewhat skittish, but nowhere in the same league as a Leghorn.
An Ixworth hen will go broody during the year, but they are easy to pursuade otherwise. They are capable of covering 30 or more eggs in a nest, surprisingly which is more than I have ever seen from any other chicken. Even our massive Brahmas couldn’t control such a huge number of fertile eggs. Needless to say we removed some so that her workload wasn’t as much.
An Ixworth is a large fowl, heavy in terms of size. They are fast growing.
Eggs from an Ixworth are pale tinted (off white)
You can read further information on our other chickens here on our chickens for sale page. If you are keen to learn more, we run an online instant access course in Chicken Keeping. Find out more about our Courses Here.
The Ixworth hens are the all white chickens in this video above. Swedish Flower Hens are currently in the same run.
Beautiful Swedish Flower Hens are as the name says, a native landrace Swedish chicken. They are exceedingly rare in Sweden and have been brought back from the brink of extinction by a few enthusiasts who have nurtured them and tried to keep them alive and kicking. These are now consequently finding their way across the world as people discover how beautiful they are.
Skånsk Blommehöna description
There is no breed standard for them because they are a landrace breed. This means that due to local conditions there has been a natural cross breeding taken place over many many generations until the chicken eventually became what it is today. A process of natural selection with no human intervention.
The characteristics of Swedish Flower Hens are that it can be with or without a crest. They can also have yellow, pink, white or pale mottled legs but the feathers all have a “flower” on each tip. There should be no “barring” on the feathers at all. Other than this the breed is not supposed to be selectively bred for colour or any other traits thus keeping it entirely as wild as it is. To add in selective breeding would destroy what makes them so special in the first place. The base colours for Swedish Flower Chickens are red, brown, blue, white, black and yellow. They have genebank status in their home country.
Our flock of Swedish Flower Hens (even the boys are named the same) is as multicoloured as possible with several boys to make sure the genes are well mixed to preserve the variety of colour which happens when nature decides the result.
The curious thing about Swedish Flower Hens is that until they are fully grown, you cannot tell what their final feather pattern is going to be. The grower chicks are often therefore a completely different pattern. They go through several changes of feathers until they earn their flowers by being mature enough to wear them. Although they are multi-coloured and may seem bright, they are actually superbly camouflaged in a field or natural setting. They just melt into the background.
Swedish Flower Hen Temperament
These chickens are not generally a friendly breed in that you could describe them as standoffish. They are not aggressive to their other coop mates. Whenever you have any treats on offer they are then quite happy to be in your company. It is usually on their terms.
These chickens are a large fowl light category.
Swedish Flower Hen Eggs
Swedish Flowers lay a good number of pale cream eggs. Eggs size is medium to large
A Swedish Flower hen is a rare breed of chicken. The price starts at £10 for a day old chick up to £35
Sources of Further information
For more information about the chickens we sell please look at our chickens for sale page. There is a dedicated Swedish Flower Hen website which gives you a more thorough low-down on the history of these beautiful chickens. If you have burning questions about how to look after chickens and have been stumped by the confusing contradictions online join us on one of our courses.
Our waiting list is a mailchimp list whereby we can send an email to all our waiting list subscribers who would like to know as soon as we have some chickens for sale. You can find the waiting list option on our contact form here
We have plenty of stock at the moment of all ages so the waiting list is not needed. Please contact us if you wish to purchase hens via our contact form or call us on 01244-/646/026
WE HAVE BEEN INCUBATING IN 2022 SINCE APRIL AND WE HAVE SOME STOCK READY TO GO
Covid 19 and Avian Influenza
Many people decided to take up chicken keeping once covid hit us and Avian Influenza raised its head again over the winter of 2021/2022. There are growing growing numbers of Bird Flu infections in August and September 2022, so the likelihood is that breeders will keep their stock very low again over the 2022/2023 winter period. Feed prices have sky-rocketed, therefore both events will take their toll on general chicken supply. In response to the almost weekly rising price of feed, many poultry breeders are cutting their losses and reducing their breeding flocks. Demand is brisk but mainly for point of lay birds which obviously take some time to grow.
This year 2022
So far in 2022 we have been getting deliveries of Black Rocks from the Muirfield Layers hatchery in Scotland. They also do a Brown Rock which is a Rhode Island Red over Light Sussex resulting in a brown chicken with a black tail. We are hatching as fast as our incubators allow so there is usually something we can offer you. Give us a call on O1244646O26 to find out what is available or to ask any questions.
How old are chickens when we sell them?
Chicks are sold whenever people want them. Unsexed chicks are available from day old. (There is a risk that they could be cockerels so please bear that in mind). We can determine the sex of our chicks at 6-8 weeks old and we offer a hen guarantee with those. Any that turn out to be boys will be swapped in line with our guarantee. We don’t swap boys when we have specifically sold them as unsexed. If you are looking for hens (albeit rather cute youngsters) then take a look at our latest stock post. We update our availability here on our blog page. We will be having Ixworth, Swedish Flower Hens, Coronation Sussex and Salmon Faverolles. Various hybrids will be available at some stage during year. We also have “guest” hatchings of breeds such as Cream Legbar, or Marans from time to time.
Essential things to do while you are waiting
Research the Care Requirements by joining our Instant Access Online Course
While you are on our waiting list, you may wish to research some good chicken husbandry minimum requirements. Chickens don’t require much but they do require the correct care to enable them to lay well and remain healthy. Get a jump start in your chicken knowledge by looking into doing our online Chicken Keeping Course. The course can also make you realise that perhaps chicken keeping is not for you once you have more knowledge on the subject. This is a two edged sword because if your heart isn’t in it, you will have wasted money on setting yourself up to no avail if you decide at a later date that it doesn’t fit into your lifestyle. Either way it is money well spent.
Day Old and Young Chick Care Research
If you are looking for day old chicks or young chicks then it is very wise (essential) to consult our blog article on the care needs of these more delicate creatures. We will be asking for proof of your preparedness. It you don’t get the conditions right to look after young chicks, they will die. We have another course running on incubating and rearing chicks if you want to start from scratch.
It is coming to our attention that some people are of the opinion that they can just dump chickens in the garden and they will stroll around popping out some eggs every day. Chickens require housing for safety and also some weather protection. We have been hearing of people feeding them on old bread and left-over takeaway rubbish. Their welfare needs to be high priority so this is quite shocking. Chickens need to be fed well with a diet that is properly formulated and best suited for avian digestive systems. They are not feathery dustbins. Feeding them household scraps is not legally allowed and is certainly not going to give them a diet which will allow them to be their most productive or healthy. Based on the saying rubbish in, rubbish out; with hens it is definitely rubbish in, nothing out.
Attend to Foxproofing as high priority
Most important is how to avoid your new hens from becoming a convenient take-away snack for a hungry fox or badger. Check out our chicken foxproofing post for tips to safeguard your chickens
Avian Influenza Current Information
We have a blog page devoted to the current regulations relating to Avian Influenza which had raised its head again in the winters of 2020/21 and 2021/22 in the UK. Make sure you are up to date with what you MUST do to comply with the current laws. There are unlimited fines and probably imprisonment for those not heeding the requirements. There are currently no housing restrictions in place BUT it is always wise to be prepared so building a confinement area that is big enough for the birds to be happy will stand you in good stead should an avian lockdown be forced. It might not happen every winter but if it does then this forward planning will allow you to feel quite smug and prepared.
How to get notified of new stock
Please use our Contact page to be added to our waiting list. Tick the waiting list option along with the “opt-in” to give us permission to contact you. Our mailing lists, which are infrequent, have an easy unsubscribe link to unsubscribe at any time. We do not wish to annoy you by emailing you unnecessarily. Please know that we take your privacy very seriously and will not spam you without permission. As we say, spam is for fritters and we hate fritters.
Update your Chicken Coop equipment
We are now stocking fabulous coops called Henlays Roost which are easy to clean and are easy to manage from a Red Mite eradication perspective. If you need to have a lie-in in the morning instead of living in “chicken-time” then invest in a Chickenguard. This will let your chickens out at a time of your choosing so you don’t have to rise with the lark at stupid o’clock. It will also shut them away safely at night thus rushing back to close your coop is now a thing of the past. We now have Chickenguard for sale on our web shop. Nestera Coops (previously Green Frog Designs) have approached us and we are happy to be providing these coops also in the very near future.
Today I spent a good few hours rearranging all my pens to keep the age groups in one place. I have chickens all over the place so it was time to make it more organised.
Well after I caught them up, they ran off, so I caught them again. They didn’t like their new pen because it was obviously a scary place. So inconsiderate! Considering I spent ages digging in some lime to disinfect the area. It also rearranged my hair as I got it caught in the netting. Dragged through a hedge backwards is a recurring theme for me these days. They then made a bolt for the door every time I brought another 2 over. I don’t know about them, but I found it quite stressful. It certainly increased my step count for the day according to my fitness phone app so not all bad!!
When I finally finished I took a picture so I could see what I had and which colour mixes I had. This is not the only batch of chickens I have either so I might have to give myself a stern talking to.
These are now ready to go to their new homes. We have Brahma in Pyle, and Buff Columbian. We have some Orpingtons in Lavender and some Swedish Flower Hens Crossed with either Leghorn or Ancona.
That moment when you realise exactly how many chickens you have. Chicken maths – aka chicken addiction – is a real thing, especially here.
For the uninitiated, the term Chicken Maths relates to a Phenomenon (excuse) for why numbers of chickens get out of control. It starts off by getting a flock of 3, then because you cannot add a single chicken to an existing flock, you end up with 2 more. If you lose one and need to replace it, you end up with another 2 minimum. And so it goes.
First of all, a bantam is a size of chicken, not a breed. They are divided into true bantams, which includes Pekins, Sebrights, Serema, Dutch and Booted bantams amongst others. True bantams have no large fowl equivalent. Many large fowl do have a bantam equivalent, these are roughly a quarter of the size of the large fowl version. There is a bantam version of Wyandotte, Brahma, Leghorn, Sussex, Rhode Islands, Faverolles, Welsummer, Araucana to name a few.
An interesting fact regarding the Pekin and the Cochin which causes some confusion when viewing Facebook groups which have many nationalities as members. A Cochin has no bantam equivalent, however chicken keepers in the USA call Pekins a Cochin. As ever, the Americans are often at odds with the way we name stuff. A Pekin has no large fowl equivalent.
8 Reasons why we don’t keep bantams
They are a quarter of the size of a regular chicken and they might not mix well in a large fowl flock. Sometimes bantam sized chickens can suffer with bullying when in with the bigger girls.
They can have a “Napoleon Complex” which can actually show aggressive tendencies much bigger than their size in a mixed size flock.
They are usually very broody. Broody hens can be aggressive with other hens and also their keepers. Broody hens won’t lay eggs.
They have repeated attacks of broodiness throughout the year and it’s often difficult to get them over it. Broodies can die from malnutrition or dehydration in particularly warm periods. The broodiest by reputation are Silkies, Goldtops, Pekins and Wyandottes.
Their eggs are too small for your average chuckyegg. They need very small dippy soldiers to fit. Bring on those proper sized eggs!!
They are no more easy to handle than large fowl even for children.
The numbers of eggs are poor because they have repeated bouts of broodiness.
They are more at risk of danger when a cat is involved or larger birds of prey.
We only stock Large Fowl – However……
Large fowl and very large fowl can be just as friendly and cuddly as bantams. The largest chickens are fluff balls which are easy and calm to handle. They are not prone to panic running about as some bantams are. There is nothing standard about a chicken however as they all reserve the right to be individual characters, just like us.
We Relented and we got Silkies – Ahem
It has to be said that we have always had a bit of a downer on Silkies. On a whim I got some USA Silkie hatching eggs with the sole purpose of just selling the chicks. After having kept them, I decided to breed them and now I have a little flock of fluffy nodding Silkies that I actually do like – a lot. I did not expect them to lay very well, but they have laid when none of the rest were laying and I hatched loads. They do have a downside however, they are very easily spooked because they have so much facial fuzz and poor vision. Those small eggs are a deal breaker though but they do have a surprisingly large yolk.
Fertilised chicken eggs for hatching are available throughout the year, however some breeds are on shorter supply than others. If you are looking for a particular breed please get in touch via our contact page
Eggs for hatching from our flock of lovely chickens are available as shown below:
If you are wanting to make use of a broody hen then you will need to obtain some fertilised eggs for incubation. These can also be put into an incubator if you have no broody hen.
Our hatchery eggs are no more than a few days old at most and are available for collection directly from us. Collection in person is much the best way to get your eggs for hatching.
Alternatively we can post them. It should be noted that Mr or Mrs Postperson may not be very gentle with your hatching eggs despite our very careful packaging. Fertile eggs can suffer broken or ruptured air sacs, or displaced yolks if they are vigorously shaken. This can drastically affect your hatch-rate. If the postal service has mistreated the parcel then you will get at best a poor hatch-rate or even no hatch at all. This is entirely beyond our control unfortunately.
We hatch throughout most of the year from our own fertilised chicken eggs so know that the fertility is good.
Choice or reliability of your incubator and incubation method is also a major factor in a successful hatch. Again, this is totally beyond our control and is no reflection on our egg viability.
Eggs will be posted on Monday through to Wednesday each week only. This avoids them sitting in sorting offices over a weekend. We sell them for £2.50 each. Postage and packing is extra and will depend on the weight and size of the parcel.
Hatching egg returns policy
Please note that our hatchery eggs are supplied as believed fertile because we hatch regularly throughout the year. However please view our returns policy before purchasing because we can offer no guarantees on the success or failure of the eggs. This is especially true for posted eggs. To rule out any spurious claims we need to verify the eggs as ours and their opening up during a Zoom call. We ask that you DO NOT crack open any suspect eggs if you are wanting to raise a dispute before the Zoom session. This is regrettably because we have been scammed in the past by some dishonest people.
Latest stock page so you can see at a glance what we have going on and what is the latest chicken availability for sale.
Latest Chicken availability as at 9th August 2023
Our incubators are busy incubating our eggs ready for this year. We had quite a few point of lay left over from last year but they have all been sold and all we have are chicks now. The nice thing about youngsters is that they are easier to handle for novices.
New Breeds Available
We will be offering some new breeds this year such as Ixworth and USA Silkies. Ixworth are very rare and deserve to be kept by more people. USA Silkies are small versions of bantams. They come in various colours as we don’t breed for colour. They are a good standard but not officially recognised colours. Marsh Daisies are a chicken breed which originated in Lancashire. Marsh Daisy chickens will be offered for sale at intervals through the year albeit in small numbers. Norfolk Grey are another rare breed that we have as a guest hatching.
Hatching Eggs – Available Now at £2.50 per egg
We have hatching eggs available now. Fertility is good.
Waiting List – Not currently needed as we have plenty of stock.
Our waiting list is if you want to be told when our latest stock is ready. You can register on our contact form to go on the waiting list if you would like to keep informed. How our waiting list works. You can sign up to our occasional newsletter service if you wish as an alternative.
Latest stock Available Listed below. Price rises with age each Monday
Ixworth – Chicks available now from May 2023. Cockerels available
Norfolk Grey – available next spring 2024
Rhode Island Red – available next spring 2024
USA Silkies – Various colours of chicks unsexed. These are a small bantam. Unsexed
Exciting development. Our chicken keeping and incubation courses are now ONLINE. See our Poultry Courses Page for details so you can START ONE TODAY.
Easy to follow
We are hoping that people will find the easy-to-follow bite size chunks an enjoyable experience. It is crammed with masses of information you should know about keeping chickens. It will take you on a deep dive into the fascinating world of this wonderful creature. We guarantee that you will therefore learn things that will make you think about chickens in a totally new light.
Getting it right
It will help you to make good equipment choices, and get your husbandry right. Spotting illness quickly is a biggie because unless you are able to spot sickness, it can rapidly get way out of hand. A slow or wrong diagnosis can then be catastrophic for the chicken.
Easing the burden
Getting the right coop for example will make the cleaning out of your chickens a 10 minute job rather than a real thankless task. We help you get it right, first time. This saves you money and time and who doesn’t need some of that?
Chickens are enjoyable however making poor choices can take the shine off it very quickly.
We are now able to offer Chickenguards for your coops
Having chickens is great but getting up early in the morning however to let them out especially in Summer is not so great.
Fitting a chickenguard on your coop means you can have that lie in or even just get up at normal time rather than chicken time.
Chickenguards will allow you to go out of an evening and not have to get back at dusk to shut your chooks away. Chickenguard will do it all for you. Your chickens will not demand that you become party poopers.
Battery powered with 4 AA batteries which last from 6 to 12 months.
Perfectly designed coops that are manufactured from 12mm thick recycled plastic sheets. That is thicker than most other plastic coops.
Built with both chicken welfare and human welfare in mind because humans matter too. They look and feel solid.
No more back breaking stooping or crouching to clean out. Contortionism is also not required. Just open the roofline, lift the well spaced perches out and hey presto, the entire coop area is at the mercy of your shovel and scraper.
Red mite will be spotted in double quick time so therefore you can treat if necessary as they have no where to hide.
We have have placed an order for young chicks which are ideal for youngsters. They are past the delicate stage but are still small enough to be easy to handle. We have also added some point of lay birds to our order.
If you want to know more about these birds we have a page devoted to the breed. The breed page also a link for the Muirfield hatchery website. Eddie Lovett is the owner and breeder of the famous Black Rock birds which originated in Scotland. He (Eddie) took over the breeding line when Peter Siddons passed away. Before he died, Peter had given all of his knowledge to Eddie. This has enabled Eddie to could carry on Peter Siddons’ work of breeding the birds he loved. Black Rock hens also have a facebook page.
As we are an official Black Rock agent we get a regular delivery of Black Rock hens. Keep watching our site for news throughout the year. Our area is North West of England and North Wales. You could also join our newletter list to be updated.
Get in touch via our contact page if you would like to book any.
Chicks for Easter are traditional in every Easter picture for almost every product you see. There can be nothing more archetypal than seeing Easter chicks. Raising baby chickens is definitely one of the nicest things about what we do. It is very much a guilty pleasure handling as many as possible. To satisfy this craving for fluffiness and cheeping I needed to upgrade my incubator. I went for something a little more substantial and space-saving. Chicken and chick equipment is taking over the house so a bit of rationalisation was needed. In comes my Heka incubator which is totally fabulous but there is definitely method in the madness. This gives me more brooder room to house more chicks until they are ready to go outside with the big girls.
Pitfalls of chicks to be aware of
This year 2021, the year of the COVID19+1 catastrophe, we are beginning to get some hatchlings from our incubators. If getting chicks for Easter seems like a good idea please bear in mind that they are delicate and need specific care. If you are wanting chicks for Easter, please consult our blog article on chick care before you make a decision. Our chicks are not sexed at the fluffy stage so there is a potential high risk of boys. Boys turn into loud cockerels and are difficult to rehome if you cannot keep them.
We don’t offer a return on chicks that are sold as unsexed. If you want a hen guarantee then you will need to wait until the chicks are roughly 6-8 weeks old before purchasing. This means they are beyond the fluffy stage but they do look quite cute in terms of they are just diddy versions of the older birds.
If you are not quite ready and want to go on our waiting list please join via our contact form
Our breeds are Cochin, Swedish Flower Hens, Salmon Faverolles, Coronation Sussex, Brahma. We will also be getting official Black Rock, & Brown Rock at intervals during the year. There will be some chicks for Easter but we will have some probably through till September.
Ex-Battery hens say the British Hen Welfare Trust is about to hit a major milestone. Ever since they started in 2005, they have rehomed around 50,000 hens a year of ex-battery and ex-colony hens, affectionately known as ex-batts or ex-battys. It has been their mission to educate people to no longer tolerate the conditions that these creatures have to endure in order to provide your chucky egg. On Sunday 1st October as part of a release of 5000 ex-battery hens, the total numbers rescued will hit 600,000. Hen number 600,000 is shortly going to arrive somewhere in the south of England and the Trust is very excited about it. They should be, their sterling work has ensured that public pressure has encouraged the governments and food suppliers to think seriously about hen welfare and what sort of category of eggs go into their products.
Why do hens need to be rescued in the first place?
The battery cages, as they were known, only allowed for a space of about an A4 sheet of paper per hen. She was kept in warehouse style conditions consisting of tiers of cages where thousands of hens were kept. High concentrations are solely to provide cheap eggs. Thanks to public and celebrity pressure, the old style cages throughout Europe and UK are now outlawed in most countries, in favour of a cage system known as a colony cage. I don’t personally think they are any better than the old system, as there are about 50 birds per cage. The cage has a nesting area, a perching area and a dustbathing area but they are still cramped, albeit not to the same degree. The lights are kept on for 15 hours to keep the birds in laying condition. At 72 weeks of age, they are considered “spent” and their economic value suffers. Many are rehomed but this is a drop in the ocean given the billions of birds in the systems. Much more are sold off at between 30p and 50p per bird to go into the processed meat chain for things such as pies, and animal foods.
How to get hold of Ex-Battery hens
If you want to rescue an ex-batt lady then there are many rehoming charities, the main one is here British Hen Welfare Trust. They are countrywide and have regular rehoming events. You will need to register on their website and they will let you know when the next rehomings are in your area. You will be vetted so be prepared.
Ex-commercial hens are usually poorly feathered, but this is not because they have necessarily been mistreated. In preparation for their exodus from their cages, the supplier can often squeeze the last few eggs out of the hen by cutting their final food bills as a bonus. By withdrawing or lessening the feed that these birds eat, it often causes a spontaneous moult. Their bodies still have enough resources to produce those final eggs but the profit margin is much greater for the supplier. Most chickens at the age of around 18 months will moult for the first time then anyway. It is a natural phenomenon but can be prematurely trigged by reduced feed intake.
Ex-batt hens come out of confinement with poor feathering, weakness or damage limbs. This can be because of the rough handling of their rescuers in their attempts to extract frightened birds from their cages. The combs are very pale and flaccid due to being in a high heat environment. Lots of birds can generate significate amounts of heat. The hens are not used to moving around a great deal so are often limited in their limb strength. They have never seen the daylight and to be thrust into a strange world can be very disorientating for them. Given time, and patience, they will blossom into fully feathered and very happy little creatures.