The Chicken Brothers

Paul and Barry live in a coop at the bottom of our garden. They have a run and get the freedom of the lower section of our garden all day. They are generally happy little creatures each with their own unique personalities, but the ability to lay eggs seems to have been forgotten. This is why every week when we go shopping we come back with eggs.

We have had Paul since the beginning of our chicken adventure 5 years ago (she was called Rachel back then), and along with her two companions Rita and Rosie she was rescued from a battery hen farm by the nice people at the BHWT who we collect them from. We took them to their new (if somewhat primitive) home, where they started to thrive in their new outdoor life, their combs brightened right up and they developed a taste for all sorts of kitchen scraps!

Fresh from the battery farm

At this stage in her life Paul was already 18 months old or so but with her new found sisters was popping eggs out at about 5 a week each – more than enough for us, especially as at that point there were only two of us!

Unfortunately one sad evening a vicious predator broke into their pen and left a large hole in Rosie and Rita with a broken leg. Despite our best efforts to save her Rosie went up to chicken heaven, dying tragically in our arms. Rita survived but was left with a severe limp. Hop-along as we liked to call her lasted another 3 years before passing on earlier this year, a solid effort considering the extra strain her body must have been under.

Paul survived the event unscathed, she seems to be immortal, we would not be surprised if she is still kicking soil round the garden when our 6 month old daughter leaves for university.

We decided then to get some lovely cute fluffy chicks, who at 4 days old were fantastic. Having to keep them indoors for months until they could survive alone outside however became rather noisy. Tania, Tamara and Barry (formerly Tina) moved to their own hutch outside and started to lay eggs, however Tania and Tamara both passed over before their first birthday.

A 70 mile car journey to their country idyll did not seem to bother Paul, Barry or Rita and they lived happily in their new surroundings, laying eggs, eating worms and generally enjoying the good life. Once Rita had gone, however the good times seemed to stop, and Paul and Barry’s 4-5 egg each a-week habit each became 1-2 a week between them. A spruce up of their hutch with paint inside and out has helped bring a bit of brightness back into their lives, however the reality is that we are a few chickens short of a full picnic. 6 ½ year old Paul and 3 ½ year old Barry need some young sprightly friends to remind them what chickens should do, and as our littlest team member is starting to try all manner of foods (she had her first egg dish this morning) an increase of egg numbers will be a necessity – it is a good way to shave a pound off our weekly shop as well! Time to ring the British Hen Welfare Trust and re-home some more ex-battery girls – perhaps we will run a naming competition!

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