Damson Cottage Garden

Our Lovely Hens

We bought our hens about 2 years ago. I’m so glad we did, they take very little time to look after, make our garden much more interesting and give us loads of eggs – great! They also eat up scraps from the garden and help produce excellent compost.

There are soooo many chicken breeds to choose from. It can be really difficult to choose which to keep if you are new to hen keeping. So many options: Bantam or full sized, heavy or light, egg size and number. So many questions: Can you keep different breeds together? Will the breed I am interested in be happy confined to a run? Which are the friendliest chickens? To help you choose I would like to show you which hens we went for to make our back garden their home.

We have one full-size hen, Ginger – she’s a Goldline, produced by crossing a Rhode Island Red cockerel with a light Sussex hen. She is friendly to us and is the boss as far as our other hens are concerned! We get loads of eggs from her, about one a day. Her eggs are the colour of supermarket eggs but are usually much bigger.

Goldline, Copper coloured beauty

Ginger – Our reliable Goldline

We have three bantams, which are smaller than full sized hens. I think in the future we will only get bantam hens as they tend to be kinder to the garden. Big chickens enthusiastically eat anything green and dig up anything growing! Bantams tend to be less destructive. They have pretty, smallish eggs – the yolks are about the same size as a normal egg but with less white, ideal for me! They lay eggs more in the spring and summer months.

Dot is my favourite chicken. Her markings are beautiful, I like her feathered feet  and her bossy style! She is a Pekin and lays about 160 eggs a year. She does tend to get broody in the summer, which is common for Pekins. When a hen gets broody they want to hatch eggs and refuse to leave them. This can be a pain if you don’t want to hatch eggs as the broody hen tends to stop laying and can stay sitting on the nest for a month or so, sometimes forgetting to eat and drink. 

Dot - Our pretty Pekin, Black in colour with flecks of white in her coat

Dot – Our pretty Pekin

Blue is a bantam Araucana and lays about 200 beautiful green/blue eggs (the exact colour of farrow and balls teresa green!). Her beautiful eggs and lively, inquisitive nature make up for her somewhat angry appearance! We are very proud of her as she appeared from the first egg we ever hatched at home in our incubator.

Blue- Our bantam Araucana. Grey in colour, lays beautiful blue/green eggs

Blue- Our green-blue egg producing bantam Araucana

Finally we have Dusty, our Bantam Orpington, who lays about 160 eggs per year. She is very gentle and is James’s favourite.

Dusty- Our lovely round grey hen with a copper coloured neck

Dusty- Our gentle bantam Orpington

From our experience:

- The rounder the hen, the friendlier and less flighty (jumpy) they are, but they tend to be more broody and produce less eggs.

- Hybrid full sized hens produce the most eggs – about one a day, but they are tough on the garden. Unless you have an enormous garden, they turn the lawn to a mud slide and eat or dig up any small plants. They eat and poo a lot too!

- Four bantams or two full sized hybrids will keep two adults with enough eggs for most of the year, with extra eggs occasionally  for friends and family.

- You can keep different breeds happily together. Make sure they have plenty of room. I think its best to stick to similar sized birds as the huge birds may inadvertently damage the smallest breeds.

Blue, terracotta, white eggs

The daily miracle produced by our hens

Here are our eggs, one from each hen. Aren’t they beautiful? They taste great too! If you are interested in bantam vs traditional sized eggs we have a section here just for you!

Let me know which chicken breeds you keep, Jane

3 Responses to Our Lovely Hens

  1. togel says:

    niche article thnks you very much

  2. sarah says:

    the black one is so cute! haha they’re funny

    • admin says:

      I agree, they definitely make our garden more interesting. They are always busy! Jane

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