Here at Oaktrack we keep a number of different types of poultry all solely for the purpose of their delicious eggs. For us there is somehow nothing better than tucking into a free range egg with its brilliant yellow yolk, collected earlier that day. Do you fancy having a go but not sure where to start? Here’s a few pointers:
Firstly is the question of what type of bird? We have a number of bantams which are smaller than standard sized chickens and lay a slightly smaller egg (perfect for snacking on when hard boiled). This is one of our favourites – a lavender pekin but there are lots of different varieties. Ours have an old garden shed as a home, raised off the floor away from rodents but if you are only going to keep just two or three, a mobile run which can be moved around the garden onto fresh patches of grass will be perfect for them.
Larger areas will accommodate bigger hens – we have around one hundred currently! They all need a hen house where they can be shut in at night and kept safe from predators, as well as a secure run if you’re not there to watch them. We use straw for bedding and feed all our poultry on layers pellets and chick crumb or hard boiled eggs initially if hatching them ourselves.
We also have ducks at the smallholding – Campbells and Indian runners. Whilst they do enjoy a pond, it isn’t essential as domestic ducks spend more time on land and can make do with a tub of water. Since keeping ducks we have managed to attract some wild ones who now seem to return every year.
As with hens you will need a house and secure run for them, although ours have managed to become very free range and wander all over the smallholding! Ducks can be a gardener’s friend, hoovering up slugs and snails as they roam, but also nibble and trample plants as they forage too so be warned! The smaller call ducks are ideal for both beginners and gardeners and their eggs are great in cakes too.
If you’re feeling inspired, why not give it a go and remember we are always happy to give advice, just get in touch.