Keeping chickens – 10 facts I didn’t know

When Joe and I moved to a tiny Spanish mountain village, we weren’t planning to keep chickens. Our next-door neighbour insisted we should, and eight years later, we still have chickens.

There are plenty of ‘How to Keep Chickens’ books, but we’re still learning… Here are 10  more unusual things I’ve learned about keeping chickens:

✔    Chickens can withstand almost any weather, hot or cold.

We’ve had deep snow, and scorching summer temperatures, and our chickens seem to cope with either.

✔  Chickens’ tails droop when they are unwell.

✔  Chickens purr when they are content. Honestly!

✔  Chickens can’t see at all in the dark. If you want to catch your chickens, do it after dark.

✔  Chickens eat anything. However, as they have no teeth, stale bread has to be soaked before chickens can eat it.

✔  Chickens make wonderful pets. They grow very tame and are happy to perch on your shoulder or sit in your lap if you let them.

✔  Chickens adore dust-baths. They dig themselves a scrape and lie in it, fluffing themselves up to allow dust to cover every feather, which helps evict parasites. A dust-bathing chicken goes into a sort of trance.

✔  All eggs are not the same. Sometimes our chickens lay massive eggs or tiny ones. Sometimes there is no shell, or a wrinkly one. And they don’t taste the same as shop-bought eggs either, they are much tastier!

✔  Chickens like to roost high. As soon as the sun goes down, all our chickens climb up to their perch (amidst much bickering) and stay there until sunrise.

✔  Chicken language is easy to learn. For example, they have different sounds for “I’ve laid an egg”, and “Where are our treats?”, and “I’ve found some great food here!” and the “bk-bk-bk” alarm call when something frightens them.

Chickens are gentle, engaging creatures. Now that we appreciate their charm, we are horrified by the conditions in which some chickens are maintained. Battery farming is cruel and unnecessary. We applaud the efforts of the BHWT, and other organisations, who fight for the rights of chickens!

So, do you have space in your garden for a few ex-battery rescue hens?

Have you already rescued some hens?

Or would you like to?

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