Getting a chicken

Where you decide to get a chicken from will depend on what you’re looking for from your new pet – do you want hens as pets, as show birds, or for lots of fresh eggs.

Read the advice from our friends at British Hen Welfare Trust on the best places to get happy, healthy chickens.

Adopting chickens

If you want hens that will be friendly, rewarding pets choose ex-commercial hens (ex-bats). These birds come from caged, barn or free range farms and the breed is usually Warren hybrids. At 72 weeks old, they’ll still be laying eggs but might not lay an egg every day.

Ex-bats often have bald patches or few feathers but these will quickly grow back and you’ll have the pleasure of watching them experience life in a back garden for the first time. You can adopt ex-bats from British Hen Welfare Trust.

Keeping chickens for eggs

If you want a hen that will lay a steady supply of perfect eggs straight away, you should chose Point of Lay (POL) hens. These are hens that are around 20 weeks old and at the start of their egg laying life. You can expect them to keep laying eggs until roughly 72 weeks of age.

Look for a reputable POL supplier in your area. Avoid markets where little is known of the chickens’ background; you may find yourself bringing home a cockerel instead of a hen!

Pure breed chickens

Most other chickens fall into the fancy hen or pure breed category. There’s a wide range of breeds, sizes and colours of chickens available to buy. Most will lay eggs but some breeds don’t lay regularly so research which breed is right for you.

Pure breeds are sold through private breeders, farm shops and markets. Not all pure breeds are vaccinated. Contact The Poultry Club of Great Britain or the Rare Poultry Society for details of breeders in your area.

We’ve teamed up with the experts at the British Hen Welfare Trust to bring you this advice.