Keeping hens

Apologies if this has been asked before, somewone said there was a thread about this a while ago, but having had a good look around I can't find anything

There was a slot on breakfast telly last week about the Battery Hen Welfare Trust, which rescues battery hens destined for the slaughterhouse and finds homes for them.  Having talked it over with hubby over the weekend, I really fancy giving this a go, but I'm not sure how big a commitment keeping hens is likely to be.

I need to get myself a Janet and John guide and do some reading up, but in the meantime does anyone else keep hens and have you got any advice?  The main thing is that I'm not sure how much work it would be for friends to look after them if we go away for a week, and whether I'd need to get someone to put them to bed in winter before it goes dark. 



  • I know that hens only lay for so many years of their life. Then what do you do with them?
  • Erm......

    One thing's for sure, they woudn't be ending up on the Sunday dinner table, we're both far to soft for that.  How long to hens live for, anyway?   Apparently battery hens are 50% "spent" by the time they're re-homed, so we're not expecting huge amounts of eggs.  One a week each from half a dozen hens will do us fine

  • My neighbour keeps hens.... or at least he did till the other day. Fox got 'em.
  • LOL.  If you get bored of keeping them Hashette, you can always kill them and eat them.
  • I don't want to keep hens, but I've got a massive cock.

  • Hashette I think the thread you are talking about it the one i it is...Keeping Hens

    On our behalf...we've got a new pup now so the hen keeping is very much on the long finger.

  • Hashette, 

    We have 6 chickens and they are so easy to look after and very entertaining.  We have had them 7 weeks now and after a couple of weeks settling in they started laying eggs.  All we did was empty one of our sheds and put shelves and perches in and made a big run for them.  Last week we got 40 eggs and they are so tasty - we even get some double yokers.  Since the chickens have been laying eggs I have been doing more baking and we also trade with the neighbours so everyone is happy. Only thing is now our dog thinks she is a chicken as she likes to eat everything that they do including the layers pellets!  Chickens will eat all your scraps of food too so good for the environment.  Good luck.

  • My dad just got some. Marvellous creatures. Very entertaining, with a surprising amount of personality.

    Also not fussy eaters, his 'ladies' are especially fond of spinach, lettuce, potatoes (particularly jersey royals), mango, seed etc.

    Superb, although they are fortunate in that he has a large garden and can let them out for most of the day to 'range' around.

    Good layers. Bout 6 a day but I am of the opinion that they make worthy pets, eggs or not.

  • short stop - I didn't read your post above but I notice you use the same word - entertaining.

    they are rather difficult to photograph because they are so busy.

    also surprisingly, they get on rather well with the cat.

  • Don Minquez wrote (see)
    Ahem... Shall I?


  • Thanks for the advice everyone

    One more question - how much work are they for friends to look after them when you go away?  The eglu with the automatic feeder is unfortunately waaaaaay beyond our budget, our chickens will be getting a hubby-constructed fox proof fun and probably a converted kennel or some such shelter inside it, but they'll think it's a palace after a battery farm.  Presumably people will just need to come in and top up food and water,but  will they also need to remove any eggs in there (not that that's likely to be a problem) and clean them out (which would be!)?

  • How long are you planning to go away for?

    You can get feeds and water dispensers that are those automatic ones - the only trouble is that they have continual feeding options.  Obviously, if you are away, better to have them able to overeat rather than starve.

    Check on the chickens - if they are coming from a battery environment, it may take a couple weeks for them to lay.  Sometimes you can collect eggs every morning, other times - they don't lay for a week.  So I would say to check every morning or every second morning and make notes on who lays what when.  At least you can work out from that how often they lay eggs as a generalisation.

    We used to clean out the houses with water and a giant broom - hose it down and sweep everything out.  We used a disninfectant type stuff for animals as well.  I think we probably cleaned everything on a weekly basis

  • Ta PO

    Only the odd week here and there, but I just need to make sure I'm not leaving a major mission, otherwise I could run out of willing friends very quickly. 

  • Get it out of the way, Don..
  • Naw they are really easy to keep

    Cue entrance of foxy woxy though

  • Johnny Blaze wrote (see)
    Get it out of the way, Don..
  • Its all right H, its a very old joke and we've all heard it before!

    Still always gets a laugh from me though!

  • Hens are a piece of piddle to keep you can even get posh hen houses now. (will wander off and get the link in a bit). Only down side is cats/foxes/dog's in the local area tend to want to kill then. Basically they are easier to keep than pretty much anything other than goldfish and give you eggs!!!

    p.s. has anyone got a picture of a cock to show Hash so she can see what one looks like? image

  • Hashette,

    Have e-mailed a mate who still keeps hens for the company he got he posh hen house from I'll stick it on here went he get's back to me. His hen house is great. image

  • Cheers Cake

    kittenkat wrote (see)
    The sprouts will make them windy hun.

    'Tis okay, it runs in the familyimage

  • So you like chickens, do you, H?
  • Aw...... just had an e-mail:

    Whilst we make every attempt to collect as many ex-bats as we possibly can for re-homing, due to their popularity we may have to ask you to join our waiting list and be patient … if so, we would remind you that your hens will be sitting somewhere in their tiny, dark cage … hoping you will be patient too.


  • Hash, I got some Sussex Lights in December for my brother to keep on his small holding.  They are huge now!  He's so keen on them that he's now got an automatic incubator and has added to his brood so he now has 12 hens and 3 cocks.  He's got a dozen pheasants that he's rearing for the local shoot and has started on incubating guinea fowl!  The next to go in are Geese and Turkeys, apparently!

    He's also too much of a wuss to eat them.  It took 6 months from 'birth' to start laying eggs and, at first, they weren't very big (I guess the 'hole' has to get used to the bigger eggs. image Cue Don!!).  However, they are now definitely large eggs. 

    He uses old sheds for their roosts and has an electric fence, run from a car battery, to stop Mr. Fox from having them.

    He has automatic water feeders and pellet feeders and gives them all the kitchen vegetable scraps as well as them being able to free roam during the day.  He or his partner are always back to 'put them to bed' though!  They will strip your plants and flowers though if let out into your garden!  And scratch up the earth to get all the weeds, but you'll be left with a mud bath afterwards!  No trouble to keep, as they only need cleaning out once a week!  You'll need a small tub of gravel for them to chew on too,  'cos they're hard!!!  image

    Good luck, I'm sure Blouse will make a good sturdy home for them!! 

    Oh and sadly my Goji berry plant has died!  I'm not usually too bad with plants and am confused as to what I did wrong!

  • I didn;t think you had to have a cock to keep hens?

    Insert joke here ----->

  • Only if you want the eggs to be fertilised!  image
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