The Orchard Trust have had chickens for some while but there were never enough eggs to meet the demand from our customers. At the end of 2016 we secured a generous donation from a Herefordshire company with a connection to one of our Trustees and we decided to significantly increase our flock.
We chose our chickens carefully (to be gentle, docile and good egg layers so that our students and residents would be able to work with them easily) and we bought a splendid new home for them with the donated monies.
After a period of quarantine we introduced our new flock to our existing birds and then gave them a completely new run so that they could establish a new social order, which is very important in flocks of chickens.
The final step in the plan was to move them onto a rather overgrown piece of land that we wanted to bring back into cultivation and within weeks our happy healthy chickens had scratched up all the weeds and eaten all the slugs.
We now produce around 1300 eggs a month and find that we can easily sell all of them within the Trust to give us a small income. When we move them again their current area can be quickly turned back into vegetable beds for our autumn planting.
Our original 12 birds are coming to the end of their maximum laying period and this autumn we will be re-homing them as pet chickens (with a new life as occasional egg layers in someones garden) and we will be buying another 12 hens to keep the cycle going.