Mar 112014
 
pullet for sale at fifesmallholder

Silkie, Leghorn, Legbar, Maran, and hybrid laying chickens for sale at fifesmallholder

Hatching time has started again and in a few weeks our chicks will be ready to start to lay eggs.  This is called ‘point of lay’  and these birds are called pullets.  They are all female.  Chickens start to lay eggs about 17 weeks old, and have moved from eating chick crumbs to pellets and wheat.

white silkie chic

We have several cockerels of different breeds so have hatched:

cockerel    hybrid laying hens (medium brown eggs) hardy and reliable layer

 Hybrid chickens rarely go broody, and will lay reliably throughout the year.  Pure bred chickens are more likely to only lay between April to September.  A hybrid born late summer should lay throughout its first winter with or without light in the hen shed.

leghorn poultry  pure bred leghorn (large white eggs) a good reliable layer 

Unlike other pure breeds leghorns lay well throughout the year but will require light in the hen shed in winter.  For a large fowl breed they are not too big despite the size of their eggs, and are therefore cheaper to feed than some of the larger breeds.  Good value for money.

 white silkie henpure bred silkies (small cream eggs) a good pet unreliable layer

If you do not have much room, a small hen shed, or do not want much damage in your garden then these are a good choice.  Although they only lay through the breeding season (April to September) they make up for this in character.  A docile chicken, that is lovely to look at and most are good with children.  We have a beardie cockerel so our chicks have extra character.

We now have pure bred cream crested legbars (large blue eggs) seasonal layer

These chickens produce lovely blue eggs and can be used to cross with any other hen and will produce a variation of blue or green eggs.  These chickens are auto-sexing and this works even on the cross chickens saving you the expense of rearing cockerels when these are unwanted.

We now have two unrelated maran cockerels and hope to start breeding pure marans over the summer of 2014 – these lay dark brown eggs.

We are also open to swapping cockerels to improve the gene pool – if you have a young healthy man who you would like to swap with one of ours then please contact us to discuss.   

Why buy new chickens?

bearded silkie chicken

Hens that start laying eggs in the autumn should lay all winter in the first year and will tide you over if your other hens stop as the daylight reduces in the winter months.  We move our hens into their winter housing which has a light to help encourage our girls to lay in the winter.  The light is not on all the time, only for a few hours each day, but it is enough to give our girls a rest and keep producing a few eggs.

free range white female silkie hen

How do you introduce new chickens to your old chickens?

It is always advisable to quarantine your new stock (in case of disease) and make sure that they have been treated for worms and mites before introducing them to your flock.  This is best done at night, however there will be some disorder until the hens sort out the pecking order.  To reduce the stress and bullying make sure that there is more than one feeding and drinking station so that new chickens are able to access food.

For sale

If you like what you see please get in touch.  Check out my poultry page.

Mar 102014
 
table bird chickens at fife smallholder

Backyard/garden poultry keeping

What you need to know if keeping a few chickens in your garden

Keeping a few hens or chickens in your back garden has become popular again, as people want an outdoor pet that also provides fresh free range eggs.  If you have a large back garden with space for your chickens to roam securely then why not?

cockerel

Before you embark on this adventure please do your homework first, and check to make sure that there are not any clauses in your lease, mortgage, or bye-laws that restrict the keeping of poultry.  I would also urge to consider very carefully the keeping of a cockerel – they are noisy and will annoy the neighbours.

Things to do before you buy chickens for your garden or smallholding

‘Any person who keeps animals, or who causes or knowingly permits animals to be kept, must not attend to them unless he has access to all relevant statutory welfare codes relating to the animals while he is attending to, and is acquainted with the provisions of those codes.’

  • It is important that you read and understand the welfare guides/codes of recommendation relating to the animals you intend to keep.  Read more here.

The ‘five freedoms’.

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst. By access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vision.
  • Freedom from discomfort. By provision of an appropriate environment including shelter and rest area.
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease. By preventing or rapid diagnosis and appropriate treatment including humane slaughter.
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour. By providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company.
  • Freedom from fear and distress. By ensuring that conditions and treatment avoid mental suffering
mother and baby

Stepping Out

Feeding your animals/chickens

Animal feed plays an important part in the food chain and there are rules governing this area. Most smallholders buy bags of chicken and turkey feed direct from an agricultural supplier in large bags because this is the cheapest way to do it.  However you need to ensure that it is stored properly and protected from vermin. Read more.

Do I need to register my chicken?

 
If you own or keep 50 or more poultry birds then you must register with DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs). This is due to the avian influenza (preventative measures) (Scotland) Regulations 2005.  The poultry register remains open to allow for the continual voluntary registration of premises with less than 50 poultry. Bird species that must registered:
 
  •      Chickens
  •      Turkeys
  •       Ducks
  •       Geese
  •       Quail
  •       Emus
  •       Rheas
  •       Kiwis
  •      Pheasants
  •      Partridge
  •      Guinea fowl
  •      Cassowaries
You can register with DEFRA by calling free on 0800 634 1112.
 

Can I sell my eggs?

Yes you can sell your clean fresh eggs direct but they will not be marked with a stamp like the ones in the supermarket.

free range egg

“Ungraded eggs sold direct to the final consumer at the producer’s farm gate or sold by the producer locally door-to door in the region of production will not have to be marked.”

Egg Box Labelling for small scale poultry keepers such as smallholders

Producers with fewer than 50 birds are not required to mark their eggs – so long as they provide other information such as their name and address and provide consumer advice to keep eggs chilled after purchase along with a best before date (maximum 28 days from lay) for the eggs at the point of sale.  For more information about eggs click here.

white silkie hen

 Where can I buy chickens in Fife Scotland?

 Here at Fife Smallholder we sell fertilised eggs and chicken pullets or point of lay.  Read more
 

How Much Does It Cost To Keep Chickens?

It really depends on how much you want to spend.  I know people who keep a few hens that roost in a coal cellar at night on the back of a chair, and others whose chickens live in a bespoke Eglu.  Read more 

hen and chick

Top Of the World

How do I introduce new chickens to my existing chickens?

It is always advisable to quarantine your new stock (in case of disease) and make sure that they have been treated for worms and mites before introducing them to your flock.  This is best done at night, however there will be some disorder until the hens sort out the pecking order.  To reduce the stress and bullying make sure that there is more than one feeding and drinking station so that new chickens are able to access food.

 March 10, 2014  garden, post archive, poultry Tagged with: , , ,
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