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...Poultry - General...

  1. Can I keep chickens in my garden?
  2. How do I introduce new chickens to an existing flock?
  3. How many eggs does one hen lay per day?
  4. Do you have to have a rooster for a hen to lay eggs?
  5. How long do hens lay eggs?
  6. How long to chickens live?
  7. Do chickens eat slugs and earthworms?
  8. Are chickens noisy?
  9. Can I eat fertile and non-fertile eggs?
  10. How long do chickens live?
  11. Are free-range chickens the same as organic chickens?
  12. When a hen lays an egg which end comes out first?
  13. How long does it take for a chick to hatch?
  14. What is the difference between white and brown eggs?
  15. My hens are eating eggs. What do I do?
  16. How do I wash dirty eggs?
  17. Can I keep chickens on my council allotment?
  18. What breed of chicken lays the largest and the most eggs?
  19. Do smaller eggs taste better than larger ones?
  20. My roosters spurs are removing all the feathers on my the back of my hens. Is there a safe way to remove his spurs?
  21. How many hobby poultry keepers are there in the UK?

1. Can I keep chickens in my garden? Page Top
There may be local restrictions. Check with your local authority Environmental Health department.
Also check with your solicitor if there are any restrictions specified in your deeds for the area.
Finally check with your neighbours, especially if you plan to keep a cockerel. Site the run where it will not pose a nuisance to neighbours either through noise or smell.
2. How do I introduce new chickens to an existing flock? Page Top
The chickens are likely to fight until a pecking order has been established. If there is a large enough space there may not be any problem.
One solution is to create a temporary barrier or fence from chicken wire. This will allow the chickens to get used to each other and after a few weeks the barrier can be removed.
3. How many eggs does one hen lay per day? Page Top
This depends on: the time of year; the breed of the hen; the diet of the hen; the age of the hen; and, how the hen is looked after.
Most of the standard breeds of chickens that have been selected through the years for egg production will lay between 180 Ė 320 eggs per year for their first year of laying.
On one extreme, there are records of hens averaging an egg a day for over a year. The rate of laying tapers in the second year and beyond, until it may only take place during the spring.
Some of the breeds that havenít been selected for egg production (selected for show, or other qualities, instead) may only lay eggs in the spring and early summer.
Appropriate feed mixtures also stimulate egg production. Provide 14 to 16 hours of light for hens to lay regularly.
One hen can only lay, at the most, seven eggs per week while most chickens lay fewer. A hen which lays one egg every day is a very good layer.
4. Do you have to have a rooster for a hen to lay eggs? Page Top
No. Without a rooster, hens will still lay eggs.
There are no roosters to be found at all the chicken farms, where most eggs come from. If you donít have a rooster, the eggs canít be fertile, and wonít hatch.
5. How long do hens lay eggs? Page Top
Egg productivity diminishes after the first year. It is still good the second year, but then declines rapidly.
At about three or four years, production is not very efficient. Most commercial and farm hens are culled after their second season of laying.
6. How long to chickens live? Page Top
Chickens have a potential lifespan of up to 10 years and, as such, represent a fairly long-term commitment.
7. Do chickens eat slugs and earthworms? Page Top
Yes - they eat slugs and earthworms. A chicken is unlikely to eat too many as their instinct is to forage for a variety of food items.
8. Are chickens noisy? Page Top
Roosters are noisy. Hens are much less noisy. Hens will be completely silent at night when it is dark.
A hen will cackle at times during the day, and will occasionally (especially when disturbed by an unfamiliar person or animal) squawk, but she will be quiet most of the time.
Many hens will cackle after they have just been laying their eggs, but these, and most other sounds, are not very loud, and are certainly quieter than most sounds that may occur in the surrounding neighbourhood.
9. Can I eat fertile and non-fertile eggs? Page Top
Yes - non-fertile eggs are just as nutritious and tasty as fertile eggs.
10. How long do chickens live? Page Top
Chickens can live anywhere from 5 - 10 years depending on the breed and quality of life provided.
11. Are free-range chickens the same as organic chickens? Page Top
No, there are important differences. Organically raised hens are never given hormones, antibiotics or pesticides.
Free-range chicken producers have no regulations associated with production methods. They are free to use antibiotics, hormones, and non-organic feeds.
Both organically raised and free-range chickens have access to the outdoors and are never kept in confinement cages.
12. When a hen lays an egg which end comes out first? Page Top
The small end of the egg.
13. How long does it take for a chick to hatch? Page Top
Usually around 21 days depending on the breed.
14. What is the difference between white and brown eggs? Page Top
The main difference is in the breed of chicken. Nutritionally, the eggs are usually the same. This depends on feeding and management.
15. My hens are eating eggs. What do I do? Page Top
Hens will eat broken eggs if they find them. Hens keep an eye on each other, and when one finds food, others crowd in. In this way, egg-eating can spread through a flock.
Hens do not normally consider unbroken eggs to be edible, but if they have anything stuck to them, such as smears of yolk from another egg, they'll peck at that. Sometimes hens learn to break eggs on purpose this way.
To reduce egg-eating, you should:
- Provide darkened nests. Hens do not like to eat in the dark, and they are less active in the dark. They break fewer eggs moving around in the nest boxes, and if they do break one, they're less likely to eat it.
- Use large nest boxes with a small door. In ordinary nest boxes, two or three hens will jam themselves into a nest meant for one, and this breaks a lot of eggs. Roomier nests lead to less breakage.
- Use deeper litter. This will prevent the litter from being scratched out of the nest and fewer eggs will be broken.
- Collect eggs frequently.
- Provide one nest for every four hens. Avoid overcrowding.
- Provide the right feed rations. Deficiencies can lead to thin-shelled eggs.
16. How do I wash dirty eggs? Page Top
Dry clean by rubbing the egg until all dirt is removed.
Wet cleaning is more complicated. The basic issue is that dirty eggs are covered with bacteria, which have trouble getting through the shell. When the shell is wet, they pass through the shell more easily.
Always wash eggs in water that is warmer than the egg and you should sanitise the eggshells to kill any bacteria on the shell. Dry the eggs with a paper towel.
17. Can I keep chickens on my council allotment? Page Top
In the UK you may keep hens on council owned allotments.
In England and Wales the Allotments Act 1950 includes allowance of hens to be kept on allotments.
In Scotland the Allotments (Scotland) Act 1892 allows fowl to be kept. This act is still part of the existing legal framework for allotments.
Local council rules may specify that no livestock can be kept on an allotment but this is not in force legally unless the council have a local by-law approved (which is unlikely).
18. What breed of chicken lays the largest and the most eggs? Page Top
Rhode Island Reds and Sussex are noted as the pure breed that lays most eggs (around 260 per year) and for quite a long time!
Most hybrids will probably match or even exceed that number as they are bred to produce eggs but for a shorter life span.
Some of the latest hybrids are geared up to lay 300-320 eggs per year.
Black Rocks lay about 330 per year and the 2nd year eggs are pretty large.
Battery hens lay absolutely massive eggs. Far bigger than any hybrids.
19. Do smaller eggs taste better than larger ones? Page Top
Taste is notoriously subjective. Larger eggs can be less creamy and may have more water content affecting taste slightly.
20. My roosters spurs are removing all the feathers on my the back of my hens. Is there a safe way to remove his spurs? Page Top
You can trim and file down the spurs to remove the sharp points.
21. How many hobby poultry keepers are there in the UK? Page Top
It is estimated that there are about 250,000 to 350,000 hobby poultry keepers. Domestic poultry keeping is a growing hobby.

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