Chickens make great family pets! They are inquisitive, sociable, easy to look after and in return for your love and caring for them, they will provide you with hours of entertainment and lots of great tasting, fresh eggs! More and more people are now keeping chickens in their gardens, regardless of where they live, or how large a garden they own. Even allotment holders are now clubbing together to keep their own hens and be more self sufficient.
If you are a novice chicken keeper or want a hen that is easy to look after and will give you little trouble, we recommend that you first start with HYBRID HENS because they are friendly, come in lots of attractive colours and are bred for their hardiness, vigour and great egg laying capability. A healthy hybrid hen will lay up to approx 320 lovely fresh eggs per year! The colour of eggs that Hybrid Chickens lay varies from pure white, through to different shades of light brown, pinky brown and dark brown; an attractive mix for your egg display basket!
Our findings show that Hybrid Hens are by far the most popular choice of hens amongst first time and experienced chicken keepers.
Our hybrid hens are all pre-vaccinated against the following major poultry diseases:- Details of some of these can be found on the Poorly Hen page.
When we decided to keep hens on a small commercial scale, we did some research into what type of establishment and set up we wanted to have. We visited many other breeders and suppliers of hens to see how and what types of approach to keeping livestock other poultry keepers had.
We didn't like the way some poultry suppliers kept their hens inside in large numbers, before being sold or those suppliers who claimed their hens were free ranging, but kept them in walled pens. We wanted our hens to be free ranging in the true sense of the word, so that they would be able to act like hens; scratch, run, flap their wings, forage extensively, dust bath and to have the benefit of being outside in the fresh air.
In keeping our hens this way, we have found that they already have a routine of being let out in the morning and going back inside their coops to roost at the end of the day. They are used to seeing people and being handled regularly. This means that from the onset they are much more sociable to have around and have already learned to go inside the coop when the sun goes down and also how to perch!
We felt that it was important for our customers to be able to see where the chickens were kept and how they lived, so we decided that we would allow our visitors to walk amongst the chickens in order to watch the individual characters of the chickens and to choose the chickens for themselves. In doing so, we were aware of the importance for us to protect our livestock and also our visitors from bacteria and disease. To prevent the spreading of disease and bacteria, we incorporated a 'Bio Security Programme', whereby visitors to the premises walk through a disinfectant dip and are asked to wash their hands before entering and upon leaving the premises. We installed a hand sanitiser for this reason.
We visited suppliers of chickens and poultry breeders where a number of customers had turned up all at once, were kept waiting some time, before they were able to be seen and were left to their own devices on the premises whilst they were waiting. This was not only stressful for us, the other people that were waiting, but also to the livestock.
We decided that we wanted to operate by appointment, not only to allow us to manage our own free time better, but to offer a unique and personalised, one to one service, so that we could give 100% quality time to each and every visitor. We allow an hour for each appointment, we spend time with our customers on a one to one basis, in order to fully answer any questions they may have and advise on how best to care for the chickens that they will be taking home with them.
Our style of poultry keeping and operation has been commented upon by many of our customers, who have stated that we are different from many other poultry breeders and suppliers. They have said that they like the harmonious and natural atmosphere on our smallholding and that they think our set up is absolutely second to none. This is evidenced by the high numbers customers who return to buy chickens from us and those who continually recommend us to other people. This is reflected in the fact that the majority of our advertising is done purely by word of mouth, which hopefully speaks for itself about how good we are at what we do!
We are aware that some suppliers of chickens now charge for their advice by running poultry keeping courses. We do offer chicken keeping courses for beginners, but with the hens best welfare in mind, we are keen to give as much free advice and support before and after sale as possible, so if you have any questions whatsoever, our advice when purchasing chickens is free, so please feel free to ask!!
DELIVERY CAN BE ARRANGED
More and more people are now keeping their own chickens and are trying to live more healthily and self sufficiently. It doesn't matter whether you live in a town, or in the country. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need acres of garden to keep a small number of hens. They are easy to look after, cheap to feed; as they can eat all your kitchen scraps (except meat) they are fascinating to watch and best of all, they will reward you by laying you tasty eggs which are FREE, you know how fresh the eggs are and more importantly, you know where they have come from!!
Hybrid hens are the ideal hens for beginners and you are new to keeping chickens.
They are pre-vaccinated and are therefore hardy, so they are easy to look after.
They are bred from a special combination of genes to give them the following good attibutes:-
- A variety of attractive coloured plumage
- Prolific egg-layers and
- Bred for docility
Each variety of hen lays a different shade of egg from shades of brown, browny pink to white and these can vary in size from medium to large.
All our chickens have ranged together as part of one large flock, so you will not need to worry about how they get on with each other when you get them home. If you have other chickens that you are going to introduce them to, or are planning on adding to the ones you buy from us at a later stage, it is best to introduce them at night, whilst they are roosting, as they will get used to the smells and sounds of each other before daylight and this way it will not be such a shock when they see each other for the first time.
It may also be a good idea to add an extra feeder and drinker in the coop, so that they won't be competing for one food/ drink source and add some extra sources of entertainment in the run i.e logs, pecker block, sand tray etc. In addition, let them out of the coop early in the morning to avoid any squabbles in close confinement.
If you have a run, keep them inside it for a few days until they know where they and are familiar with their surroundings. You can let them free range after a couple of days.
If any squabbles do break out, don't worry, this is normal, as chickens always have a hierarchy and they will just be establishing who is boss! It may be an idea to have some anti-peck spray and some purple antiseptic spray handy, just in case any blood is drawn. If blood is drawn, the other chickens may be attracted to it, so use the purple spray to cover up the redness of the blood and the anti peck spray to deter any further pecking. If in the event one chicken comes off a lot worse, treat it and separate it from the others by a screen of mesh, so that they can see each other and remove the screen when they are a little more used to each other. Be patient, try not to intervene, no matter how hard it is not to get involved, they will sort it out between them!
Many customers ask us how many chickens they should keep as a minimum. Obviously this does depend on how large an area the chickens will be kept in, how large a coop or chicken house you have, but also what you are keeping the chickens for, whether it be on a commercial scale for profit, or whether it is for your own personal hobby/ lifestyle choice.
We recommend that you start with a minimum of three or four chickens, as chickens are flock animals, which means that they like company and feel safer in a group as opposed to being on their own. Chickens are not meant to be solitary birds and if kept on their own for some time, they may reject any attempts to add any additional chickens to their coop. If a minimum of three or four chickens are kept, then they are more likely to accept any later additions and in the unfortunate event that you may lose one due to sudden death, ill health or a fox attack, then the others will not be alone.
Below are some of the varieties of HYBRID CHICKENS that we have here at the Ark
One of the most popular hybrids. They are similar in looks to the Light Sussex hen. They lay light coloured eggs and have an even temperament.
Similar to the Cuckoo Maran. Traditional looking hen. Not stressy, very calm and easy to manage. Lays darker colour eggs.
ARK RHODE ROCK
Similar in looks to the Black Rock. These lay a browny colour egg. The plumage is black with gold flashes around the neck and chest feathers. They are very sedate in nature.
They are pretty birds. They have white plumage with gold flecks. They lay white eggs
These are very similar to the white Leghorn breed. They are dainty looking and can be flighty until they come into lay. They lay lots of white eggs. We keep a number of Ark Gems ourselves all year round to supply our eating eggs
Blues are beautiful looking hens, their smokey blue/ grey plumage is loved by many.
They are lovely natured.They lay darker coloured eggs
Ark Pied Suffolk
Striking white neck plumage against black body plumage. Placid hens. Brown egg layer. Also known as Magpies
Ginger nut style hen based on the Rhode Island Red and Light Sussex crossed breeds - brown egg layers - slightly smaller in size than her sister hybrids, brown plumage with black tail feathers, quiet hens, don't seem to stress easily and not flighty
The Health Benefits of Eggs
1. Eggs are good for the eyes. Studies have shown that those who eat eggs every day minimise the risk of developing cataracts.
2. Eggs are one of the only food sources that naturally contain occurring vitamin D
3. One egg contains 6 grams of protein and 9 essential amino acids.
4. One egg contains just 5 grams of fat and only 1.5 grams of fat which is saturated fat.
5. The Harvard School of Public Health, have claimed in one study, that eggs contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin, and folate.
7. Eggs are a good source of choline. In one yolk, there is 300 micrograms of choline, which is a nutrient which helps regulate the brain, the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system. See link re. Choline
8. Research has indicated that it is the saturated fat which raises cholesterol levels as opposed to dietary cholesterol.
9. Eggs can prevent Breast Cancer see BBC newslink below:- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2787731.stm
10. Eggs contain a high sulphur content and a number of vitamins and minerals, which can help keep your hair and nails looking healthy.
A RECIPE FOR A HEALTHY AND SIMPLE SUPPER USING EGGS
FLORENTINE EGG GRILL
Serves 2 Preparation time: 25 mins - 368 calories
2 fresh eggs
225g/ 8oz Spinach leaves
Freshly grated Nutmeg
Knob of Butter
Salt & Pepper
2 tbsp Cream; single or double
85g/ 3oz grated cheddar
2 slices of thin ham strips
1. Lightly butter a shallow oven proof dish & preheat the grill setting to high.
2. Blanch the spinach leaves
3. Stir in the grated nutmeg, the butter and the ham strips. Season with the salt & pepper. Put into two small mounds in the bottom of the oven proof dish.
4. Poach the 2-eggs in a pan half full of lightly salted water until the eggs have set.
5. Using a slotted spoon, lift the eggs one by one out of the water, letting the water drain out of the spoon as you lift them out.
6. Place an egg on top of each of the spinach mounds.
7. Drizzle the cream over each of the eggs and then sprinkle each egg with the grated cheese.
8. Grill until golden brown.