Keeping Chickens on the allotment
Since The Allotment Act 1950, all allotment holders have the right to keep hens (and rabbits) regardless of the terms of their lease or tenancy agreement. You may also erect structures sufficient to house your hens and or rabbits. Back in 1950, rationing was still in force and protein was hard to come by, hence the change in the law. If you do keep hens and or chickens on your allotment, you will still be subject to local nuisance bylaws and general acts of parliament with regard to noise and pollution. A guy on allotment across from mine bought young "hens", only to find out they were cockerels. The noise from his allotment attracted complaints and the Council made him clear the cockerels off.
I've been keeping chickens for a little over four years now and I have no regrets. The first hens I had were purchased from a local smallholder. I got three. I knew nothing whatsoever about chickens and the smallholder essentially fobbed me off with 2 year olds, past their prime and never vaccinated. I learned a lot from those chickens. They laid regularly, but never at the same time, so yields of 0 to 2 eggs per day were commonplace, never 3 though. I don't believe in killing anything really, so I looked after them until the day they died, pets rather than egg machines.
An allotment holder on our site bought his chickens from "Cheshire Chickens" and I made a trip down there in April to buy five hybrids. My new flock is completely different to the old. I bought them as "point of lay" and within four weeks we had 3 eggs per day, then 4, then 5 eggs a day consistently for the last four months. The contrast between the younger birds and the older one I bought initially is stark. Also, the flock was bought fully vaccinated and so, there have been no chickens going down with illness for weeks on end.
My chickens live in an area approximately 3 metres by 4 metres and have free run of the area. I converted an existing structure on the allotment to house the birds, providing a high perch and two nesting boxes (pet carriers) on high shelves. They also have a treadle feeder (a must have, in my opinion) and a 30 litre waterer, although I don't fill this as it gets a lot of gunge in it and is hard to clean out, I just keep the bowl filled with fresh water.
The door to the "coop" has a hole, high up, so the chickens can get in an out when the door is shut. The outside area is fenced off to a height of approximately 7 foot and I have placed netting over the top to prevent escape. I haven't clipped their wings and I don't think there'll be a need for that. I found a video on Youtube where a smallholder had placed a compost heap in the chicken enclosure. The birds had fun digging around for grubs and the compost heap is regularly turned to create good compost efficiently. I too have done this, but the birds eat a lot of the stuff I throw onto the heap so it may not be a good idea if you rely on this for your main source of good compost.
I feed the birds layers pellets, filling the treadle feeder every four or five days. The treadle feeder can hold 10kg of feed and is rat and rodent proof. I once made the mistake of storing the feed bag in my allotment shed. Within a couple of days, rats had got in and their droppings rendered the feed useless. I place straw in the pet carriers I use for nesting boxes, and change it every few weeks or so. If you're considering keeping chickens, I would recommend it. The eggs have bright yellow yolks and taste fantastic. You can use eggs in pancakes, cakes, ice cream, salads, fry them, boil them etc. If you have too many, you can give them away to friends and family. If you live in the North West of England, google "Cheshire Chickens" a company I can highly recommend (they don't pay me to say this by the way). back to our homepage
More articles you may find interesting...