Chicken Breeds

The chicken breeds articles on our blog at Hedgerow Henporium

Choosing a Chicken

Colourful egg basket

Choosing The Right chicken

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. Eggs are exceedingly fresh, very delicious and exciting to receive as a gift from your hens, but it may 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

  • Friendly
  • Interactive
  • Interested in you
  • Accepting of affection
  • Therapy
  • Provider of purpose to lost souls
  • Provider of the most delicious eggs
  • Companions
  • Education
  • Ambassadors for all birdkind
  • Garden designers extraordinaire
  • Source of mirth and joy
  • Hunters
  • Intelligent

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.

Ixworth

Ixworth Cockerels head picture

Ixworth Chickens

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.

Appearance

  • 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.

Uses

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, 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.

Breed Size

An Ixworth is a large fowl, light in terms of size. They are fast growing.

Eggs

Eggs from an Ixworth are pale tinted (off white)

Further Information

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.

Swedish Flower Hen

Group of Swedish flower hens

Swedish Flower Hens – Skånsk Blommehöna

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.

Breed Size

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

Cost

A Swedish Flower hen is a rare breed of chicken. The price starts at £10 for a day old chick up to £30

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 lowdown 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.

Waiting List

Waiting List Image

Waiting List Information

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

HOT NEWS

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 MORE EGGS AND WE HAVE SOME STOCK READY TO GO FOR 2021

Wrapped up chicken
A chicken is the gift that keeps on giving

The year 2020 was a funny old year.

We were inundated with requests for chickens for sale ever since Covid-19 has taken over the newsreels of the world. We restocked hybrids and Black Rocks twice but sold out of older chickens almost immediately. Our suppliers exhausted their supplies and had no more available. Chicken availability was somewhat of a problem but we tried to keep up with demand as much as possible.

This year 2021

So far in 2021 it is looking like demand is similar to that of 2020. We normally mostly hatch from our own breeding flock and this year is no different. Our incubators are hatching every 3 weeks so that we can meet the demand. We will be obtaining some hybrid stock when travel arrangements are not so restrictive.

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 the 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 Cochin, Brahma, 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, Marans, Leghorn, Orpington and Ixworth.

Essential things to do while you are waiting

Research the Care Requirements by joining our 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 for £42. The course can also make your 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 £42 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.

Horror Stories

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 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 not good enough. You need to feed your chickens well with a diet that is properly formulated and best suited for avian digestive systems. Feeding them household scraps is not legally allowed and is certainly not going to give them a diet which will allow them to be 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 winter of 2020/21 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 is currently no 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 so rushing back to close your coop is now a thing of the past. We now have Chickenguard for sale on our web shop. Green Frog Designs have approached us and we are happy to be providing these coops also in the very near future.

Chicken Maths = How many chickens?

Chickens ready for sale

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.

 

Bantams – 8 reasons why we don’t keep them

What is a Bantam

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 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.

8 Reasons why we don’t keep bantams

  1. They are a quarter of the size of a regular chicken and they might not mix well in a large fowl flock
  2. They can have a “Napoleon Complex” which can actually show aggressive tendencies much bigger than their size in a mixed size flock. Sometimes bantam sized chickens can suffer with bullying when in with the bigger girls.
  3. They are usually very broody. Broody hens can be aggressive with other hens and also their keepers. Broody hens won’t lay eggs.
  4. They have repeated attacks of broodiness throughout the year and its 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.
  5. Their eggs are too small for your average chuckyegg. They need very small dippy soldiers to fit. Bring on those proper sized eggs!!
  6. They are no more easy to handle than large fowl even for children.
  7. The numbers of eggs are poor because they have repeated bouts of broodiness.
  8. They are more at risk of danger when a cat is involved or larger birds of prey.

We only stock Large Fowl

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.

Hatching Eggs

Hatching eggs in incubator

Hatching Egg Availability

Please note that our hens are having a moult and a well earned rest from October to February so no hatching eggs will be available until Spring 2022

Hatching Eggs from our flock of lovely chickens are available as shown below:

Fertile 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

Supply warnings

Our 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 hatchrate. If the postal service has mistreated the parcel then you will get at best a poor hatchrate or even no hatch rate at all. This is entirely beyond our control unfortunately.

We hatch throughout the year from our own 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 £2.00 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 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.

Hatching Eggs breeds

  • Swedish crosses: Swedish boy running with, Ancona and Araucana hens. Eggs will be either blue or pale cream
  • Cochin eggs: Cochin boy with Cochin females in Blue, Black, and Blue Splash. Chicks will either be blue or blue splash
  • Ixworth eggs: Very rare breed of dual purpose chicken.
  • Faverolles eggs: Salmon and Blue Salmon or mottled. Colour will be one or the other. Short supply
  • Swedish Flower Hens eggs: Mixed colour hens as they are meant to be. The flock is crested and uncrested so the chicks will be either.
  • Sussex: Boy is a Coronation Sussex running with coronation and light sussex hens. Chicks will be either light or coronation coloured.

Our hens are classed as large fowl light and large fowl heavy. The Cochins and Faverolles are all heavy breeds.

We can also have fully automatic incubators and brooders to hire help you hatch and raise the baby chicks safely and successfully

Coronation Sussex

Grayson Coronation Sussex

Coronation Sussex Description

Coronation Sussex are very rare. We have been breeding these since 2017 and are very similar to the Light Sussex however where the Light Sussex has black neck hackles, wing tips and tail tip, the Coronation Sussex has a pale grey in those areas. We are fortunate to have these in our breeding flock with a magnificent cockerel called Silas. Sussex chickens come in various colours such as Light, Speckled, Red, White, and Coronation.

Coronation Sussex Breed Temperament

She is a typical Sussex chicken temperament. A Coronation Sussex is confident but also not a lover of being cuddly. They are not usually the sort of chicken that dominates a flock. A Sussex mixes well with other chickens and are good layers.

Sussex Breed Size

This breed is classified as a large fowl – light. Sussex chickens in general have a rather matronly build. They tend to look rather stocky compared with something like a Leghorn for instance.

Eggs

Eggs are a biscuit colour or pale tinted and are produced in good numbers. Approximately 4-5 eggs per week in their first laying year. They come into lay at around the 25 week mark. The egg size is medium to large

Cost

These are £10 from un-sexed day-olds rising to £30

Availability

Our hatching season is from March to September. The Sussex breed in general is slow to show us whether they are boys or girls so they can be around 10 weeks old before they can be guaranteed female. Early to mid June onwards is the time when we have these in female form.

Sources for Further Information

For more information about the chickens we sell please look at our chickens for sale page. 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.

Latest Stock

Latest Stock For Sale

and Breaking News

Latest stock page so you can see at a glance what we have going on and what is the latest chicken availability for sale.

  • Black Rock Hens
  • Sussex group
  • Young Ixworth cockerel
  • Coronation Sussex Trio
  • Swedish hens
  • Pair of Cockerels looking into the kitchen window
  • Ixworth Cockerels head picture
  • Araucana egg in nest
  • Cream Legbar
  • Young grower hens

Latest Chicken availability as at 1st July 2022

We had a busy few years post COVID 19 as it has encouraged people to begin to keep chickens in the garden. 2022 is beginning to show a similar pattern so we are hatching as fast as nature will allow whilst still being mindful that we need to give them the best care possible. We have started late this year in our hatching so we have more youngsters now rather than point of lay. 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 Marsh Daisies. We have obtained some rather lovely Ixworth chickens as our breeding stock. Once the Ixworth chickens start to produce eggs in sufficient numbers for us to incubate, we can offer those for sale in due course. Ixworth are a rare and splendid dual purpose bird which are pure white. 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.

Hatching Eggs – available Now at £2.50 per egg

We have various hatching eggs available

Waiting List – Not currently needed as we have plenty of stock.

Our waiting list is still active because demand remains high. Join our list 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

Breaking News!!!!


Teacher chicken

Exciting development. Our chicken keeping courses are now ONLINE. See our Chicken Keeping 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?

Benefits

Chickens are enjoyable however making poor choices can take the shine off it very quickly.

Premium Chickenguard

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.

Visit our shop page for more info

Henlay Coop

We are now stocking Henlays Roost chicken coops.

Perfectly designed coops that are manufactured from 12mm thick recycled plastic sheets.

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.

Visit our shop page for details

New Delivery of Black Rock

Black Rock Hens

We are expecting a delivery of Black Rock hens and Brown Rock hens direct from the Muirfield hatchery week commencing 17/1/2022.

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 is Upon Us

Newly hatched chicks

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 laying hens milestone reached

Ex-battery hens on rehoming day

Major rescue milestone

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.

Salmon Faverolles

Group of Salmon Faverolles

The Salmon Faverolles is one of our favourites

The Salmon Faverolles is quite an unusual chicken. They have a lot of facial fluff (a muff and a beard to be precise) making their little choochy faces look so sweet. We keep the large fowl version but there is also a bantam variety which is a quarter of the size. They also come in a non-standard colour of Blue Salmon that is very hard to source as it’s not as popular as the Salmon.

Salmon Faverolles Breed Description

The Faverolles is originally a French chicken from the vicinity of the towns of Houdan and Faverolles in north-central France. This is how the breed got its name. A Faverolles is always written in the plural – never singular – and pronounced Fav-er-ol as it’s French you know!! A combination of Cochins, Houdans and Dorkings were used in its breeding profile. The Faverolles became one of the most important egg-producing utility fowl in the north-central region of France.

The Faverolles reached the UK in 1886, but then the British developed it further to meet British breeder tastes. British breeders developed a slightly different type with tail feathers that were longer and raised higher than their German and French Cousins. This new type therefore went on to become the accepted exhibition standard in the UK

The Faverolles name is always prone to confusion. It is pronounced Fav-er-ol, but always spelled Faverolles. We do find that many people use the following spellings for this wonderful chicken. Favorell, Faverell, Favourel, Faverels and many other variations of the name. All of which are incorrect. If you visit a breeder who misspells the name, then they are unlikely to know a good breed standard from a bad one. We recommend you avoid these as there are unfortunately a lot of poor quality birds around.

We have Faverolles in Salmon, Blue Salmon and some in mottled black and white. There are a number of dedicated UK breeders who are trying to breed the Faverolles in different colours. Apparently it used to have a few colour variations in its history but they have been lost over time. A number of project colours in the pipeline with these breeders, is Ermine, Blue and Black. Ermine is a similar colour to a Light Sussex which is also known as a columbian pattern. This translates to black around the neck hackles and a black tip to the tail. The rest of the body being white.

One of the things that makes a Faverolles stand out is the muff and beard and the fact that they have a fifth toe that curiously points up in the air, whereas most chickens have four toes. This breed has feathery legs and feet so therefore is not suitable for living on continually squishy muddy ground.

Male Salmon Faverolles are a dark mahogany colour. They are beautiful and calm so consequently shredded wellies are a very rare hazard. The male Blue Salmon Faverolles has a dark back and blue front. Both Salmon and blue Salmon have the straw coloured neck hackles. It is easy to determine the sex at 2-4 weeks of age because the boys start to show dark feathers early on. The Blue Salmon is not yet recognised as an official colour by the breed club as its still quite new.

They are a dual purpose breed because they are good for both meat and eggs.

Breed Temperament

They are a very inquisitive and chatty bird and always on the lookout for when the treats are handed out. Despite being a large bird, they have quite a timid nature so consequently, can get bullied if they are in with chickens that have more attitude.

Breed Size

These chickens are classed as Large Fowl – Heavy

Eggs

Faverolles can make good winter layers and are very hardy. Moulting time will stop them laying if that coincides with winter.

They lay a very good number of medium-sized, tinted pale cream or pinkish eggs.

Brahma

Brian the Brahma

Brahma Breed Description

Brahmas arrived in the UK around 1840-1850 but their name is derived from the river Brahmaputra in India. The breed was created in America in the 1840s from large feather legged birds called Shanghais which were originally imported from China. The beetle brow and pea comb that we see in all Brahma today came from crossing the Shanghais with Grey Chittagongs from India. They are calm birds that have broad, deep bodies, full breast and long powerful feathered legs. Abundant soft feathers cover their feet which makes them look rather large. They have a small head for such a large bird and the face is smooth and free from feathers. These birds have large, prominent eyes, short strong beak and a triple or pea comb and small wattles. The brow is broad which produces heavy or beetle eyebrows.

Due to being the largest breeds of chicken they are often referred to as the King of Chickens. As with all male chickens, the Brahma cockerel is a stunning bird. A Brahma comes in large fowl (very) and bantam sized birds. Brahma are similar to Cochin except they have a pea comb and having a more upward curve to the tail.

They are not suitable for constant very muddy situations due to their feathered feet. As they have such huge amounts of feather they can also get quite soggy in the rain.

We no longer keep Brahma but we have left the page here for education purposes.

Brahma Breed Temperament

These gentle giants are very easy to tame. Brahmas do mix well with other sizes of chickens but in more aggressive flocks they can be subject to bullying. A Brahma lays quite well but they can get broody at times. As broodies, they do make excellent sitters as they can cover rather a lot of eggs. They make excellent mother hens.

Breed Size

Brahma are classed as a large fowl – heavy. Soft feathered.

Eggs

The Brahma lays quite well, however, not the best layers at all. Her eggs which are a pale biscuit colour are surprisingly small considering it is such a large bird. They will come into lay at roundabout the 35 week mark. If they hit that mark in winter they will probably not start to lay in the spring when the days start to lengthen.

Further information

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

Hedgerow Homemade

Hedgerow Lavender Hybrid

Hedgerow Homemade Breed Description

Our Hedgerow Homemade chickens are currently from a mix of Swedish Flower Hen boys with our laying flock of Swedish Flower Hens and Ancona. The Swedish boys also have Swedish girls in the flock. Any white eggs from the Ancona are readily identifiable for incubation purposes.

They come in a variety of colours especially with those Swedish Flower Hen genes.

Most are handled regularly to ensure that they are happy to be held by their new owners. They are all large fowl rather than bantam sized, so most will lay a good sized egg.

We have called them Hedgerow Homemade because that is exactly what they are. The exciting time is when they hatch and it’s like a Forrest Gump moment, “you never know what you’re gonna git”. We always love when they start to feather up, as it’s then that their true identity begins to show itself. It’s totally fascinating and consequently, we find it difficult to let them go because they do turn out quite unique and rather lovely.

Breed Size

Our Hedgerow Homemade would be classed as Large Fowl and either light or heavy. Some are definitely more chunky than others!

Breed Temperament

Variable mostly placid but some may be a little flighty or standoffish if they have more Ancona in them for example. Given the right handling they are apt to become quite calm and interactive. They do reserve the right to be contrary 🙂

Eggs

Egg colour could be anything from white through to a medium brown colour. They will be medium to large in size. Quantity would be anything from 80 to up to 200 in their first laying year.

Cost

The Hedgerow Homemade starts at £7.50 for unsexed day-olds and rises to £25 each with age

Availability

We have some growers left at around the 10-12 week mark.

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