We initially rescued three Warrens when we took on a second plot in September 2014. Quickly named Lottie, Maisie and Doris, we worked hard to give them a good diet and cleaner accommodation. It paid dividends in a plethora of eggs!
We then took on two Nova’s (Maggie and Peggie) who laid beautiful smaller eggs albeit less frequently than the Warrens due to their age. They lived to a ripe old age of at least 4-5 years (difficult to tell exactly!)
Later additions included three more Warrens (Betty, Annie and Evie) who were given to Phil by someone on another allotment site who was giving up and wanted a good home for them. Phil already having several of his own, gave them to us. Sadly we lost Betty to a fox not long after we got her, and Annie about three years ago but Evie still continued strong until 2019.
Emily was the sole survivor of a different fox attack, smart enough to escape the fox but not my husband managed to catch her. We looked after he while we waited for the owner to repair the coop. He never did and shortly after left the site. So we kept her. She definitely had PTSD and thus was always approached with caution. She was an incredible broody and raised several sets of chicks. She passed away at a grand old age of 7 years old in autumn 2019.
In 2015 we managed to hatch our first chickens with Emily as the broody. She managed to hatch 4 Vorwerk eggs which is amazing and we kept Holly and Molly. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep the other two Vorwerks as they were male and cockerels aren’t allowed on site. Molly has raised her own chick, Millie despite an attack which left her with a deformed comb. We lost Holly in the winter of 2019 and Molly in October 2020 but Millie continues strong albeit not laying many eggs.
The same summer we hatched Holly and Molly, Cliff managed to hatch an array of chicks of different breeds. In fact he hatched so many he couldn’t keep them all so we took on Polly and Dolly, two pure breed Cream Legbars. These lay beautiful pale green eggs but as a pure breed, they do not lay during autumn or winter. Sadly, we lost Dolly to a beak injury in spring 2020 after several weeks of hand and syringe feeding.
At the tail end of 2017, we were given 5 Black Rocks by Geoff as he decided to try his luck with another breed (Rhode Island Reds). The Black Rocks are hybrid chickens which will lay all year round, securing our egg supply at last! These lay light brown eggs of varying sizes depending on the age of the chicken laying it. Rapidly these were named Snap, Crackle, Pop, Fizz and Squeak. Sadly, we lost Crackle a few weeks after we got her, Squeak in August 2018, Fizz in January 2020 and Pop in October 2020 after surviving a stroke.
In July 2018, we took on two Cuckoo Marans from Steve, called Nelly and Daisy. Unfortunately, we lost Nelly and Daisy soon after they settled in. Cuckoo marans are beautiful birds and lay lovely eggs.
2019 saw us loose a couple of the older chickens so we are now hoping that the chicks we raised in 2020 would be able to take over the egg production. I was fortunate enough to be put in charge of 9 Rhode Island Red chicks hatched at work this summer and we kept three, two girls named Aggie and Cassie and a cockerel called Tommy. Unfortunately, Aggie died unexpectedly in May 2021 and Cassie a few months later. Tommy presided over the girls until a complaint from a neighbour meant I had to re-home him. It was heartbreaking but Tommy is living in a enormous free range enclosure with four girls to keep him company.
There is a local farmers market or rescue charities that sells ex-commerical layers where you can easily pick up chickens for a good price. If they are ex-commerical, they often appear in poor condition and get confused at many of the freedoms allotment chickens enjoy. Usually, they work it out within a few days… Our rescue chickens are called Georgie, Katie and Hattie.
Summer 2019 saw the arrival of three new chicks, two Golden Laced Wyandottes (Obi-Wan and Hans) and a silver pencilled Plymouth Rock (Leia) after another successful hatch by Emily. All three chicks were born on Star Wars day (May 4th). Both Wyandottes were boys and found new homes on a small holding whilst Leia holds the record for most expensive chicken on site after several vet visits and a course of anti-inflammatories. She was late to lay her first egg, around 9 months old. As Leia was recuperating, Phil kindly gave us Rey, a gorgeous Cream Legbar chick, a few weeks younger than Leia. They are now completely inseparable.
In the summer of 2020, Leia went broody for the first time and has managed to hatch five beautiful little white leghorn chicks. Typically, four of them were male. We gave the sole female (named Victoria as they were born on the Queen’s birthday) to Steve as he had struggled to hatch many girls. In return, he gave us his Swedish Flower Hen pullet who I quickly named Lilja (Swedish for Lily) who has fast become Leia’s partner in crime.
Much to my husband’s amusement, I asked for three silkie chicks for my birthday this year. I have wanted them for years ever since I saw Cliff’s when we first arrived on site. As they are quite delicate and have feathery feet, the allotment coop wasn’t suitable for them. I managed to pick up a red Omlet Eglu Classic and set it up in the garden with a four metre run. Three monochrome fluffy chicks came home with us in November 2020 and they live a life of luxury whilst their mere presence terrorises the cats. Named after the cloud formations they resemble, Nimbus, Stratus and Cirrus are a delight to play with. Not long after, Asperitas joined them – a beautiful painted silkie from the same breeder as the other three. They live in the garden, enjoying regular free ranging time much to our cats horror. Recently, we have added to our Silkie flock. In August 2022, we welcomed three USA silkies called Arcus, Aurora and Cumulus (a blue splash, a golden and a white).
A severe outbreak of Avian Flu in December 2020 led to massive changes to everyone’s coops as they tried to make them biosecure. One morning, Cliff discovered a box of three hens abandoned outside the allotment gates. One was an adorable speckled Sussex Bantam who was incredibly friendly. Roxy loved being up on my shoulder as I walked around the plot. She didn’t integrate with the big girls so I managed to find her a little friend, a bug-eyed Silver Birchen called Trixie. Needless to say, a couple of weeks later, another bantam joined their gang. Foxy is a porcelain millefleur with stunning feathery feet! The gang of bantams was so efficient in digging up and eating the weeds they gain the nickname of the Little Weed Destroyers.
Trixie hatched a clutch of five chicks, two porcelain millefleurs and three partridge sablepots. Amazingly, four of the chicks were girls with one of the porcelain chicks being a stunning cockerel I called Gordon. He was incredibly friendly and gentle. Unfortunately, despite bringing him home to the garden, he was still too loud when he crowed. Gordon is currently living with two big girls with a lovely lady who runs an animal rescue centre.
With the loss of some of our little bantams and rehoming two more, we expanded the flock with three adorable sablepots. A mum and her chick, called Gertie and Winnie and a chocolate pullet with a twisted beak called Coco. Sadly, we lost Winnie after battling for several weeks to help her recover which left Coco on her own. She coped well with the big silkies but she needed a friend of her own. So we are currently waiting to collect a columbian pekin to keep Coco company.