Nine little chicks and one tasty roast cockerel

Written by Andrew Thomas

We (Rebekka and I) bought our first three hens back in the summer of 2011 after I lovingly built a coop from scraps of wood, Carwyn and Julian tried to convince people I bought it from B&Q, but at least I know different. Now 15 months on the coop has expanded and our family of hens have grown to 9, accompanied by a cheeky little Cockerel called Yoda. We've always been big believers in experience at Hoffi, but being the tech/geek I'm always a little quieter than both Carwyn and Julian; preferring the slow life outside of office hours. And keeping chickens was, I think the perfect choice.

Earlier this year we thought it would be a nice idea to rear our own hen's, but without a Cockerel the only choice we had was to purchase chicks that were a few days old, so in mid March 2012 we did just that buying 3 Buff Sussex chicks that were then about 4 days old. The following few weeks were interesting, with the chicks at home in a wooden box, occasionally treating them to a spot of orienteering on our living room floor. Within three weeks they had grown enough to escape the box and explore at will: it was time for them to venture outside.

Three Chicks - Barbera, Yoda and Welshcake

More coop building was to follow, this time making use of some dismantled pallets to create a smaller holding coop which became their home for the next 3 months. As they grew we soon came to realise that two of the chicks were hens and we had one cockerel, a big decision followed. To kill or not to kill that was the question, it was also the first time I'd every considered killing a living creature larger than a slug, but for me keeping chickens was different to a dog or cat. They are obviously a source of food, whether it be for eggs or meat. So, six months after we brought the chicks home, I slaughtered, plucked and gutted my first chicken. It wasn't long before it was filled with stuffing, draped in bacon and sizzling away in the oven.

After that experience we truly had the chicken keeping bug, fuelled by the morals and responsibility of keeping chickens we bought another four chicks unfortunately only two survived. One hen Barbera, who we have just introduced to the larger coop and one cockerel, Yoda, who will remain on his own until he's big enough to enter the coop and state his authority on the older hens.

2012 has certainly opened my eyes to the ups and downs of keeping chickens, but I'm still excited to check the nesting boxes for todays egg yield and having them fresh for breakfast will never get tiring.