Providing all our pets with the right care is important for them to live a long and healthy life.  This is as important for any poultry kept as pets.  The following information will help with this.  If you have any questions, need further advice or are concerned with the health of your pet please contact us direct.
  • Compulsory Registration of your Poultry

    Please be aware that as of October 1st 2024, all poultry owners will be required to register their birds, regardless of the number of your flock size.  These changes are being instituted due to avian influenza outbreaks. Owners will need to provide their contact details and details about the birds they keep to the government guidelines. Owners will also need to keep medication records of any medicines administered to their birds for 5 years (see below). More information on this will follow when it is available, but owners are recommended to register their birds before the upcoming deadline, please click here for further information.
  • Owner Medicine Records for Poultry

    Licensed poultry keepers (all keepers after October 2024) will need to keep medicine book for 5 years, including:

    • Date the medicine was purchased
    • Proof of medicine purchase (e.g. invoice or receipt)
    • Name of medicine + batch number
    • Quantity of medicine 
    • Name + address of supplier

    Record the following information on the day of administration:
    1. Name of product
    2. Date of administration
    3. Quantity administered
    4. Withdrawal period
    5. Identification of animals treated

    If any left over or out of date medicine requires disposal, record the following:
    • Date of disposal
    • Quantity disposed
    • How/where it was disposed (e.g. we can safely dispose animal medicine FOC, so please bring into us)
  • Vet Visits to your home - advice for poultry owners

    We see individual poultry cases (including chickens, ducks, geese etc.). Please note that we cannot provide home visits to assess the premises, and so are unable to prescribe medication for birds we have not had in for a consult. Therefore, if you have multiple birds that need to be assessed for the same problem, it may be more suitable to go to a veterinary practice that is able to provide flock visits.  Search for 'Large Animal Vets' in your area.  For further information on our home visiting, click here.
  • Rescuing Battery Hens

    The British Hen Welfare Trust is the national charity devoted to the welfare, rescue and rehoming of battery hens.  Rescuing any pet can be very rewarding.  Not all battery hens live a long life due to the life they have led before homing, but none the less they make great pets and are often have fabulous personalities.  For further information please visit their comprehensive website, click here.

    Please note: Registration needs still apply regardless of where you source your chickens from.
  • Poultry Housing

    You should always aim to provide as much space as possible, as a guide:
    • Floor space in coop: at least 30 cm2 per bird
    • Perch space: at least 25cm per bird
    • Outside run: at least 1-2m2 per bird

    • Housing should be predator proof.  Foxes are more than able to climb high fences or dig under the bottom of runs.  It is recommended to shut your chickens into their house at dusk·     
    • Check the housing frequently for any holes or necessary repairs.  Mice and rats for example, not only contaminate food and water supplies but can harm your birds while they are nesting or perching at night  
    • Housing should have good ventilation but not be draughty – for example by having windows above the perch roosting height
    • Perches should be positioned higher than the nest boxes, and should provide enough space for birds to stand on them and fully extend their necks
    • Perches should not be positioned above any food or water sources
    • There should be at least 1 nest box per every three hens. Ideally these should be in darker conditions to encourage laying
    • Grass runs should be kept short as long grass, if ingested, can increase the risk of crop issues, and will prevent UV rays from destroying worm eggs and other pathogens. 
    • Avoid having damp areas accessible as these can reduce hygiene and increase risk of infection

    Enrichment is just as important for chickens as any other pet.  Providing housing with runs to encourage natural investigation of the ground is advised or allowing your pets free roaming.  Whatever you decide, keep your chickens safety in mind, eg protecting from neighbouring cats and birds of prey or from escaping.

  • Bedding

    There is a wide choice of bedding material for chickens. Whatever your choice, it is important that it doesn’t get too wet, as this can lead to an increase in the level of bacteria, and cause ulcers to develop of the hen’s feet

    Dust-extracted wood shavings or chopped straw is a good choice. Straw is good for insulation and provides good scratching material. Avoid long straw as this is more difficult for birds to use for scratching or dust bathing. Wood-shavings can reduce moisture in the coop, but provide less insulation than straw

    Shredded paper provides good insulation and is absorbent, but often needs changing more frequently as it can get damp easily. 

    Other options include chopped hemp, or flax-based products

    We do not advise hay as bedding material as this is prone to mould and can cause crop impaction if chickens ingest it. 

  • Dust Bathing

    Dust bathing can help chickens keep clean and reduce parasite burden. 
    A dust bath can be created using sand, wood ash or dry loose soil. It is important to keep the area dry and protect it from rain.

    Diatomaceous earth powder can be added as a desiccating powder, and to reduce mite burden.
  • Nutrition - food and water requirements

    When choosing your chicken food, consider the following points:

    Chickens drink about 50ml/kg per day, with laying birds requiring additional water. Water should be provided fresh every day. Ideally drinkers will be suspended or elevated (e.g on bricks) to reduce the risk of contamination of the water and to keep the ground in the surrounding area dry.

    • Commercial mash or pellets (complete feeds) are recommended, with no additional treats or supplements necessary for birds above 4 months
    • Quantities of feed depend on the individual bird’s breed, lay status and time of year, but the average laying hen will require 120-250g of food per day 
    • It is important to be careful with treats, maize, corn or mealworms.  These are high in calories so should only be given in moderation 
    • It is not recommended to feed bread as it is high in sugar and salt, and can cause problems such as sour crop or diarrhoea
    • It is recommended to feed from a feeder, rather than on the ground to reduce contamination, and prevent wildlife access. Feeders should ideally allow all birds to access at once to reduce food-related aggression
    • Any diet change should be gradual to reduce the risk of diarrhoea and other issues

    Note: It is illegal to feed kitchen scraps to poultry, which includes any food that has passed through the kitchen. Vegetable matter from the garden that has not come into contact with animal material can be fed however. 
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting Housing and Equipment

    Regular hygiene procedures will reduce the risk of disease spreading through your flock.  Ideally, the housing would be cleaned weekly, and thoroughly disinfected on a monthly basis.  It is important to clean and disinfect the drinkers and feeders regularly, e.g. on a weekly basis

    Suggested cleaning/disinfection routine: 
    1. Remove all bedding
    2. Wash the housing with warm soapy water or detergent and allow to dry. It is important to ensure all crevices have been adequately cleaned
    3. Apply a disinfectant + leave to dry. A list of DEFRA-approved disinfectants, including recommended concentrations is available from defra, click here. at:
    4. Replace the bedding

  • Mixing birds - keep species separate

    It is recommended to keep different poultry species separate due to their different husbandry needs, and to reduce the spread of disease between species. 
    Mixing birds of different ages can also lead to the spread of disease to the younger naïve birds, so it is sensible to rear birds of different age groups separately. 
    Any new birds have the possibility to spread infectious disease, so it is sensible to isolate these birds initially.

  • Vaccination

    Please note that we do not stock vaccinations for chickens, due to the large quantities we would have to stock and the low number of chickens that see us for vaccination. Vaccinations may be beneficial for flocks with over 20 birds, but are not as necessary for flocks of smaller sizes than this. 
  • Worming

    There are several species of worms that affect chickens. Most affect the gastrointestinal tract, with 1 species (syngamus trachea, or gapeworm) affecting the respiratory tract.

    Worms usually don’t cause serious clinical disease in chickens, but signs can include diarrhoea, weight loss, drop in egg production, anaemia.  However once a heavy worm burden has developed this can lead to severe disease. 

    Prevention includes regular cleaning and disinfection of the coop. Rotating the outdoor area the chickens have access to can also help reduce worm burden, e.g. moving runs onto fresh ground regularly.

    Consider routine worming with a licenced worming product every three months. 

    Don’t keep chickens together with turkeys, as turkeys are susceptible to a parasite carried by worms (histomonas meleagridis, or blackhead) which chickens can also become infected with. 

  • Red Mite in Poultry

    Red mites can be transferred from newly bought chickens, wild birds and rodents, as well as clothing and equipment.  Red mite infestation can become a serious, debilitating condition and rapid response with the right treatment is required to protect your birds.

    Treating your birds
    A specific veterinary prescription medication is needed, this is added to the birds water and must be the sole water source for your birds.  Once the treatment schedule has commenced and the medicated drinking water is ingested any mite feeding on the treated birds, will die quickly.  This breaks the mite life cycle and will rapidly reduces mite numbers.    Housing and equipment also need cleaning and treating ...

    Treating your pet's housing and equipment
    Any equipment owners use for cleaning their coops, such as brushes, will inevitably be carrying mites, so during treatment they should put these items close to the chickens, so any mites that are hiding will come out and feed on the chickens, and die. Mites will primarily be feeding at night so this is the time to make sure any equipment is close to the chickens.
    There is no need to treat equipment with any other antiparasitic products before or after treatment with a suitable veterinary prescription anti-parasiticide.  
    Do not use any repellent substances while your pet is under their veterinary treatment programme.
    Cleaning their housing thoroughly is also necessary and replacing all bedding, (see section on 'cleaning and disinfecting' below).

  • Health and Husbandry Trusted Resources

    The Chicken Vet - click here.

    British Hen Welfare Trust - click here.

    RSPCA, Keeping Chicken's as Pets - click here.