Ever thought of keeping your own hens, ducks, geese or turkeys for their eggs or meat? We’ve listed local breeders on our birds and hatching eggs map.
What are the rules and regulations relating to poultry-keeping? It all depends on how many birds you have, what you intend, and where you live. Your first contact should be your local environmental health officer as rules may be different for different local councils. So here in Congleton, the relevant local authority is Cheshire East, who you can ask about any guidelines for chooks in your garden or on your allotment. If you have a landlord, then you also need to check your tenancy agreement regarding pets and livestock. If you are buying or own your home, you’ll have to check the deeds to see if there are any restrictions on keeping hens in the garden.
Fortunately, you don’t need a cockerel in order for hens to lay eggs for eating, so there’s no need to be woken at dawn, or to annoy the neighbours. However, if you want to produce viable eggs for hatching, then of course you’ll need a male, but do think first about what you will do with all the chicks, as you might not want to keep male offspring.
Don’t know anything about keeping birds? No problem as there is a local breeder (Bev’s Rare Breed Poultry – to the west of Congleton) who runs courses for people wanting to raise and care for back garden hens and other poultry. You can also buy poultry houses, poultry feed, and birds (ordinary back garden hens, not just rare breeds) for sale from them too. Visitors are strictly by appointment so go to the website for the email address and phone number. Note that they do not sell eggs for hatching, only the birds themselves.
For eggs for hatching, our map shows a few breeders around the area, but you could start with Congleton-based Peds Poultry – who offer ordinary garden and rare breeds, and also offer an incubation service. If you want to be sure of only rearing hens, then pullets and point-of-lay (POL) birds are also often on sale from this breeder, and others locally such as Garden Hens to the north of Congleton (in the Knutsford area), and Poultry Paddock, to the south between Stoke and Newcastle. As with the other breeders, visitors are strictly by appointment so go to their websites for contact details.
For other local breeders, you could also look at the listings on Pets4Homes.
What about holidays? Who can care for your birds while you are away? If you cannot find someone to come to you, you could also make use of the holiday boarding service for hens at Bev’s Rare Breed Poultry.