More Fifers are keeping hens... and reaping the benefits
The benefits of having some feathered friends flapping around abound: they are not only productive but their gentle nature and contented clucking noises can also prove very therapeutic, particularly in today’s stressed-out world.
I have had hens for nearly three years now and they’ve proved to be great pets. They’re easy to maintain, their food doesn’t cost much and they do a great job eating the weeds and slugs in my garden.
But while my generation is fairly new to hen-keeping it isn’t anything new. My grandad kept bantams, as did many of his neighbours.
Admittedly, they probably weren’t pampered like mine are, but they were kept for the same reason - a fresh supply of free-range eggs.
Jocelyn Scott, who lives near Dairsie, knows all about the benefits of keeping hens.
When she finished teaching at Madras College in St Andrews, Jocelyn’s passion for hens became more than just a hobby and she launched her own business, Hens Made Easy.
She said: “Currently we have over a hundred hens, and spring chicks everywhere, along with with ducks and geese too.
“We are outside all day, emptying droppings trays, feeding and watering, moving the coops and netting, mowing the grass to keep it short, collecting eggs and checking incubators, hatching chicks, selling point of lay hens - and dealing with the phone and email enquiries in between!”
Commenting on the personal enjoyment she gets from helping Fifers begin their hen-keeping journey, Jocelyn added: “I love receiving first egg emails and pictures of their new productive pets.
“Many schools and nurseries and childcare centres are also getting involved in the hen world, taking up our Incubation-Made-Easy project.
‘‘We hire out mini incubators with three eggs and children follow the three week countdown, examining the eggs with the EZScope to see the chick develop right through to hatch day! Several local primary schools have moved from chicks to their own henkeeping Eglu in the school grounds - henkeepers of the future!”
She added: “For many parents, after years of mucking out the rabbit hutch, it has been brilliant switching to friendly hens in a modern coop, giving you a warm fresh egg in the morning. And hen behaviour is fascinating. Today when we all like to know where our food comes from, poached eggs taste better when they are from your own hens. Your veg plot also benefits from their end product!”
“As henkeeping becomes Britain’s fastest growing hobby, people see you don’t need a farm or even a big garden to have hens. That rough corner you never use can be your small piece of hen heaven - they love scratching in woodchips if only a small run is possible. The sound of happy clucking in the background is very therapeutic in today’s often stressed out world. If you have ever thought of keeping a few hens, don’t think about it – go for it!”