Friday, 22 November 2013

Keeping Chickens

I first started keeping chickens in 2003 as part of my self sufficiency plans for Easter Mosshat. In a bid to up the female side of the household (living with four males in the house and the dog being a boy too!) I bought 6 Silkie cross leghorn hens from a local chicken keeper in West Calder. I brought them home in a cardboard box, much to the amusement of  my boys. Installed in their huge enclosure with newly made ark they were soon at home. Typically one of the hens turned out to be a cockerel. Since the boys were fans of the film Chicken Run he soon became known as Rocky, with an entourage including Babs, Ginger and Chicken Tikka.
Our flock having their breakfast

In 2006 I added six Black Rocks to the mix. These are big tough birds who lay very reliably all year, providing big brown eggs to compliment the Silkies' wee white ones. This necessitated another chicken shed, which was converted from a cheap garden shed, bought from a well known DIY retailer! Chickens really don't need a fancy chicken house costing hundreds of pounds, as long as they are dry and have perches for roosting and boxes for laying, they will be happy. In 2009 I was given a Bluebell and a Speckledy as a birthday gift from friends. We then became a bit of a re homing centre for several friends' chickens who could no longer keep them and so another speckled, 4 pure Silkies and a hen pecked Black Rock joined the enclosure over the next two years. Over time the older birds died off, having lived very happy lives with us. Having a mixed flock provides lots of interest and colour and different eggs too.

Buffy our Buff Orpington cockerel
In 2013 as part of the getting the Easter Mosshat Garden project airborne again, we re-homed ten ex battery hens. They weren't in as bad a state as I thought they would be: a bit threadbare and not sure of the big bad world but they soon made themselves very at home and are doing really well! Mugging us as soon as we go into the chicken enclosure, making it tricky getting to the shed for the swarm of birds round our feet. If you are looking to re home some rescue chickens in central scotland get in touch with Wing and a Prayer Rescue, this is where we got ours.
Contact them by email: wingandaprayerrescue@hotmail.co.uk 
or on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/WingAndAPrayerRescue
 
The Rescue Chickens when they arrived
Keeping chickens is easy and great fun, even if you have a wee garden. Keep them safe from foxes and give them fresh water, layers pellets and mixed corn and they will reward you with endless entertainment and fresh eggs. They love sunflower hearts and leftovers, especially pasta. As soon as ours see anyone out in their side of the garden they quickly start their shouting for treats.

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