Keeping chickens is all it’s cracked up to be for this devoted owner
When communications consultant Lynne Crowther moved back to Northern Ireland from London, keeping chickens became one of her top priorities. She shares her tips
Lynne Crowther, originally from Belfast but now living in Drumbo, is passionate about keeping chickens. And she is also passionate about sharing the joy they bring her with other people.
A communications consultant and blogger, Lynne has her own food, drink and lifestyle blog, www.eatingideas.com, where she provides recipes, competitions, reviews, top tips, videos and much more, including tales of her chickens’ exploits.
She has always been an ambassador for Northern Ireland and loves exploring the food, venues and events it has to offer. Her mission is to share her passion for food and showcase local produce, producers, venues and experiences. She loves experimenting with food, creating recipes, and writing reviews.
And of course, she loves her chickens and has some top tips for anyone who is thinking of getting their own flock. Lynne says...
‘‘Ever fancied keeping chickens but aren’t sure if it’s the right thing for you? I felt exactly the same. I had a notion that I wanted to try but had no idea what it would entail.
‘‘At the time, I was in the process of moving back to Northern Ireland after many years working in London. I decided to write a list of all the things that I wanted to do when I got home. Obviously, getting work was at the top of the list but keeping chickens was surprisingly high on my list of priorities. I really never imagined how much joy the hens would bring to me.
‘‘Eggs every day is a plus but after a tough day at work, just seeing them sprint down the garden to greet me never fails to make me smile. They all have their own personalities and can be quite vocal when they want something. I feel enormous pride when they lay an extra big egg and sadly find myself checking the eggs for stray feathers to see which girl has earned a special treat.
‘‘They very often just sit on the doorstep, waiting for us to come home or fly up onto the windowsill to see what is cooking in the kitchen.
‘‘We have patio doors in our living room and it makes me laugh when they peck on the glass to get our attention.
‘‘I must point out that there are some very real risks involved with getting pet chickens.
For one, you will be highly unlikely to have any photos of family or friends on your phone for the foreseeable future. It will all be hens being cute, hens being funny, hens making funny faces and of course, lots of eggs!
‘‘You will become obsessed with eggs- how many have been laid? Who laid them? How to serve them? Worst of all, you will find yourself making up conversations with your hens to portray how hilarious they really are.’’
If you want to give chicken keeping a go, here are Lynne’s top tips:
• Chickens are fun pets, you will quickly see how entertaining they are with their individual personalities.
•Make sure you buy the right size of coop for the number of birds you want to get
• Really make sure that your coop is fox proof. The fox is your enemy and will do everything he can to get at your precious girls.
• Let your neighbours know what you are planning. Hens can be very chatty and often very loud. They like to announce when they have laid an egg and often give off if their feeder is low.
• Start with adult birds if it’s your first time. Small chicks need specialist equipment.
• When you get your girls, keep them locked in the coop for a few days, this will teach them that the coop is home and encourage them to use the nesting boxes.
• Chickens need a steady supply of food and fresh water. They will drink more water when it is fresh and less when it isn’t. Invest in a feeder and a water container to ensure that neither runs out.
• Chickens love to bathe. They will find somewhere in the garden but if they are being kept in a run, let them have a basin or deep tray with soil and sand. They will use this as a soil bath,
•Layers pellets are great to use for their food. They provide a nutritionally balanced diet.
• Kitchen scraps are good for treats but avoid salty stuff and limit dairy products.
• Keep the coop clean and use wood shavings in the nesting boxes.
• The used shavings and chicken poo are great for your compost bin if you have one.
• Get your camera ready for the many photo opportunities that will be your new obsession,