I am on a campaign to let every allotment holder in the UK know that they can keep hens on their plot. Whatever your local Council says, or the owners of the land, the association or committee, you have a ‘STATUTORY RIGHT’ to do it. There is a law. passed just as Dig for Victory and the era of dried egg was coming to an end – the Allotment Act 1950. Section 12 states that we can all keep rabbits and hens. Hurrah! Of course, if they become ‘a nuisance’ to others – dirty, noisy, smelly…then that’s a problem and the authorities may be on your back, but until then – go for it!
Chickens are perfect garden companions – there they are, chattering away at your feet as you dig, urgently searching for a tasty grub loosened by the soil. If you pen them in an ark or run, they will do the weeding for you, leaving behind ground freshly enrichened with more minerals and bacteria than any other animal manure. If you don’t pen them, on an allotment that means endangering other peoples’ plots and possibly never catching them again. And it probably means a tasty dinner for your local fox family.
Another major asset – chickens eat every slug or snail you lob at them (saving you the bother of scattering poisonous pesticides). In my experience, this particular source of protein guarantees the creamiest eggs ever. Cow parsley gives you the darkest yolks (and according to American research they are much lower in cholesterol than eggs from industrially-fed hens); acorns gives you green ones.
So far in my 5 years of dedicated hen-husbandry, I have kept my chooks at the end of the garden. But this week, I am getting a brand new recycled hen house from the prize-winning company, Solway Recycling. It is scheduled to arrive down on the site tomorrow.
I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE STORIES AND ADVICE FROM ANY OTHER HEN-KEEPING ALLOTMENT HOLDERS. POST THEM HERE, PLEASE.