We keep many different breeds of chickens on the farm. They all live a lovely, healthy free range lifestyle during the day and are locked away safely at night. Most of our chickens go away happily at bed time but we have had the occasional afternoon chicken hunt when some of the girls have hidden from us.
Many of our chickens were hatched in local schools as part of our incubation projects and are very used to people. Some of our chickens are a little too confident and hang around visitors hoping for food scraps. It is important that people don’t feed them, however, as all our farm animals are on special diets. Our chickens eat a mixture of layers pellets and corn to keep their feathers healthy. Chickens also need grit in their diet as it helps them mash up their food in their bellies. Chickens are omnivores, which means that they can eat the meat of insects and mini-beasts as well as the grains from plants. The cheeky chickens often turn up when we are digging holes in the hope of picking up tasty worm or two.
Chickens give us eggs and meat. Lots of people are beginning to keep them at home as people look for more sustainable ways of living. We are able to offer training in poultry keeping and are hoping to launch a ‘rent a hen’ scheme in the near future so that people who are considering keeping chickens can give it a go.
We keep several breeds of chicken as well as several cross breeds. Some our chickens are Rhode Island Reds, Silkies, Arakanas, Bluebells and Light Sussex. These different breeds were bred for different purposes some are excellent egg layers, some were bred for meat and some were bred to look ummm...interesting. We even have some rescued battery hens who have come to live a free range life with us after years of living in small cages.
The female is called a hen (or if under a year old, a pullet).
The male is called a cockerel (or in America, a rooster).
Babies are called chicks.
It is very difficult to tell the gender of chickens unless you are specially trained.
Fertilised chicken eggs take exactly 21 days to hatch.
All domestic chickens are related to an Indian bird called the Red Junglefowl.
In America most chicken eggs sold in shops are white.
In the U.K most chicken eggs sold are brown.