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April 12, 2008 1:35 am

Garden Gear: Hen houses

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The chicken has finally crossed the road. Now that hens have their own group on Facebook they are no longer simply a rural necessity, they are now the latest accessory for a groovy garden. They’re also handy waste disposal units and aphids controllers, and some are mobile ornaments.

Marans, the speckled grey and white hens, get rave reviews on the looks front but are useless layers. Hybrids however can often knock out an egg a day. Black Rock is a good looking hybrid with almost blue-black feathers. They are friendly and, like all chickens, eat kitchen waste and garden pests.

Thanks to the latest hen house designs, chickens can live in city backyards almost as easily as country gardens. The brightly coloured, plastic Eglu houses (by Omlet) are innovative chic chook huts for space-challenged gardens. They are delivered, with feeding equipment plus hens, in many areas of the UK and US for about £400 or $600 for a small house, three birds, instructions and a bag of feed.

Alternative ready-made houses are larger but less interesting designwise. Far better to design your own. The Backyard Chickens website has plenty of ideas including The Chicky Schoodle Shack. The design makes the point that chicken houses can be a major garden feature so long as the hens have predator-proof nesting boxes, perches, plus feed and water centres. The Gothic folly hen house can be as appropriate as the post-modern grotto.

www.omlet.co.uk
backyardchickens.com
www.kindplanet.org

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