Do The Funky Chicken

At this time of year BC likes to bring its readers some heart-warming tales of joy and happy endings, and here is one such story ...

It seems that Brockley is fast becoming a haven for rescued ex-battery hens. Local vet John Hankinson is becoming a bit of an expert as chickens become the area's latest pets.

Kate Hinze, a Brockley Society stalwart, recently joined the chicken-keepers' club by acquiring three hens named Bertha, Peeper and Atilla. Through the auspices of a charity which helps to re-home battery hens that are en route to the slaughterhouse, they were rescued from sudden death thanks to an early-morning roadside assignation with the farm lorry.

Contrary to many people's first impressions, chickens can get by perfectly well in the average suburban garden (as long as it's well-fenced to ensure they don't invade the neighbours' grounds). And modern hen-houses include a secure night-time inner compartment which should keep them safe, even from the predations of Brockley's tooled-up urban foxes. The main downside is that they will rip up small bedding plants, Kate warns - so don't expect to have a perfect garden. Another minor negative is the need to get up early in order to let them out - this could be a problem for those who are fond of their beds.

As hens are pack animals, it's not recommended to have fewer than three at a time. On average, three hens will produce 7-8 eggs a week. Sadly, ex-battery hens tend to have short lifespans because their bodies have been exhausted by the industrial farming process.

Kate says her three have very distinct personalities, and as a consequence she has become passionate about using non-intensively farmed eggs.

Kate is happy to talk to anyone who's interested in getting chickens; you can contact her via BrocSoc.