We keep several breeds of Hen at present. These are Rhode island reds. These birds are popular and are good layers. Some of the other types we have are Black Rocks. As the name suggests they have black plumage and are also good layers and are slightly more 'meaty' than the Rhode island red variety. We also keep 'Speckled' Hens which are a reliable breed. We also some have Welsummers which are a great breed laying lovely deep brown eggs, White Leghorns which are a hybrid breed and lay copious amounts of white shelled eggs. Also Buff Orpingtons which truly are a great bird, one of the biggest you will see. They are quite approachable - good if you have kids and want to get them involved. We also have a couple of white Silkies which are funny little characters and a Salmon Faverolle - rare and expensive. The birds reside in a caravan in our field which has a fenced pen that is fully fox proof. There are also four small hen huts, three of which are homemade. Having a variety of Hybrids and Pure breeds I can say that although the Hybrids cost less and lay more, they don't seem to live as long as Pure breed plus they aren't as good looking.
They have a balanced diet of corn, pellets and green leaf vegetables which are home grown in our field. They are also provided with plenty of fresh water every day. The pen has plenty of room for them to 'scrat' about. Hens like to pick about in the grass and dirt, pecking away looking for insects. Our Hens are fully free range and are as happy as a pig in poo. The eggs they lay are of the highest quality and you will be hard pressed to find better. We have kept Hens for nearly ten years now and I could never go back to eating any other egg than a freshly laid egg from a free range hen.
If you are thinking about keeping Hens yourself then please bear in mind that you need at least two. It is cruel to keep just one Hen because like us, they need company. And a must is as much grass and foraging land as possible, fresh and clean water, a grit box for them to peck in (for them to make the shells of the egg), a good nesting box, a perch for roosting and somewhere fox proof for them to reside. Obviously your going to have to feed them too (or they will die) - we have a nice varied diet of corn, pellets and green leaf veg. Some of our hens won't eat corn, some won't eat pellets. But they all seem to love the 'scraps'. We keep a bucket to put scraps in which gets emptied in to the pens. They are various other things to think about when keeping hens. One last thing I will mention is that you should check them for lice and give them some powder should they have any. I am by no means an expert. Like with all things, there are people out there who are, and people out there who think they are. If you have any questions then feel free to ask. If I can't help then I can point you in the right direction.
Small hens which have made good surrogate mothers to chicks that we have hatched ourselves after getting the eggs elsewhere (eBay or whatever). They lay quite small eggs which generally end up scrambled and fed to our dogs in the evening.
Rhode Island Red
The Rhode Island Red is a very popular breed of chicken (Gallus gallus). They are a utility bird, raised for meat and eggs, and also as show birds.
Hybrid breed. Good layers.
Can be Pure bred but our variety is Hybrid.
The ISA Brown is a French breed of chicken, which is a cross between Rhode Island Red and Rhode Island White chickens. The breed is known for its high egg production of approximately 300 eggs per hen in the first year.
These chickens are very good for first time, garden chicken owners as these chickens are good layers, less flighty and will be unable to escape with their wings clipped.
They are very light-bodied birds and therefore poor eating.
White in colour these babies lay eggs for fun,
which have white shells.
One of my favourites. Welsummer is a medium heavy chicken breed originally from the small village of Welsum, The Netherlands.
It is a light, calm breed, with rustic-red and orange colour. Representations of cockerels in the media are often based upon the "classic" Welsummer look. Its eggs are dark-brown and spotty. There is also a Bantam Welsummer breed which is similar but lays light brown eggs.
See below for a picture. We only have one. It
doesn't lay much but apparently its worth a few bob.
The Orpington is a large bird from the English class of chicken. It is a bold, upright breed with a wide chest, broad back, and smallish head and tail. The Orpington was bred as a dual-purpose breed (meat production and eggs), but its popularity grew as a show bird rather than a utility breed. Their large size and soft appearance together with their rich colour and gentle contours make them very attractive. Ours are the Buff variety (colour - see below).
These are an auto sexing breed meaning that you can tell what sex they are from birth. They lay blue shelled eggs.
Welsummer - His name is Welly. He was given to us a few years ago and we think he's firing blanks but he's too old to eat. He's a bit of a character and keeps his ladies in check. He reminds me of the Kellogs rooster.
Silver Duckwing Welsummer - He hasn't got a name at the minute. We hatched him ourselves in an incubator along with some Welsummer hens and strangely, one Salmon Faverolle.
Buff Orpington - We have two of these. Des, named after the bloke we got him off. We actually had 6 off him which were supposed to be 1 cock and 5 hens. As it turned out it was 6 cocks! Theres only 1 now because we ate the other 5. The other younger Buff cock is called Marcellus. He was named after Marcellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction because he reminds me of him in a poultry kind of way. Big, bad and takes no sh*t. I watched Pulp Fiction a day or two after he was born so there you go.
Game Cross - I'm not entirely sure what breed he is but he is a game cross of some description. No name as yet.
Contrary to popular belief you do not actually need a cockerel for your hens to lay eggs. Cockerels, if doing their job will fertilise the eggs. If they aren't doing their job then they go in the pot!
Cockerels are also useful to have to keep the hens in check by breaking up fights and going berserk if one of his 'ladies' tries to leave the habitat. At present we have 5 cockerels.
A Trio of Buff Orpingtons