Now 2020 was the year of the Rat, well according to the Chinese atleast. Whereas here in the UK it was certainly not; it was more like the year of the dog, cat and even chicken. Chicken, I hear you cry – yes even chickens.

Pet ownership during lockdown and across 2020 flourished so much that prices of said animals skyrocketed. What else was there to do other than pay the, sometimes eye watering, figures being asked for our feline friends.  

Someone online has even made a puppy index which tracks the price purchase of puppies and low and behold the graph looks like a hockey stick from left to right.

The boom didn’t stop there however, online pet retailers like Chewy saw its share price increase best measured in multiples rather than percentages. 

The message we sent to the rest of the world was that we like our loo roll in large amounts and will just about do anything for our pets. Well there are worse things to be known for after all. 

Perhaps this was to be expected as during subsequent lockdowns we looked to our pets for comfort. However, they were probably looking the other way thinking ‘not another walk, I’m exhausted from the last one, just 40 minutes ago’. 

‘Grand Designs’ For The Garden

The garden became the last refuge with plans made over lockdowns to install or add to vegetable beds. Plant new fantaggled things ordered off the internet that know one has ever heard of, all in the name of fun. Or just sit out and bask in the summer sun, which actually did shine right across the UK, believe it or not.

Other plans were also schemed up for the garden such as garden offices and chicken coops. With the shelves bare in some supermarkets, we decided to take matters into our hands. Chickens mean eggs. With a ‘veg’ bed and some chickens we can get through the worst of it completely self sufficient, provided of course we have panic bought tonnes of loo roll. I’m sure even Bear Grylls was thinking the same thing…

You can actually track Google searches to see which ones are on the up and which are on the down. Guess what – keeping chickens was on the rise. Rightly so, they are fairly easy to keep and will apparently lay one egg a day. I said fairly easy to keep, if you live on anything other than the ground floor it’s completely impossible. You will need some outside space. 

Don’t Count Your Chicken Until They Have Hatched

You can hatch your own chickens provided you have fertile chicken eggs to begin with, in an incubator. After 21 days of turning and waiting you have your very own little balls of fluff. 

You then place them under a heat lamp to keep warm for the next couple of weeks before moving them into their very own home or ‘coop’. The heat lamp just artificially does what any chicken mumma would be doing by keeping them warm. Feeding and ‘watering’ is of course mandatory throughout the whole phase but even so your chicks are fairly self sufficient. 

Then comes the unveiling process of introducing them to the world. Or at least your garden anyway and into their new home they go. 

Chicken Coops

If you thought of chicken coops as being old, dirty, smelly converted sheds, well perhaps you’d be right, but you can now buy some very modern looking plastic chicken coops that look very stylish; very stylish indeed.

We are not experts in any matters relating to chickens so I suggest you consult ‘those that know’, before jumping in. Funnily enough one so called expert is Prince Charles, who is apparently an avid chicken keeper at his home ‘Highgrove’, however if you email him with questions I do doubt you’ll get a response. 

Thankfully then there is lots of important and interesting information on the British Poultry Club website. There are a number of different breeds that call the UK home, all with their unique history from the ‘Aylesbury’, to the ‘Suffolk Chequer’ to the ‘Scots Dumpy’. Rare breeds always need help and there is a society for rare breeds right here in the UK, be sure to check them out.

So before you fully commit to the ‘garden office’ it could be worth investing in some chickens for your own supply of freshly laid eggs. You know, just incase the supermarkets run out and then you can feel very, very important.

Although maybe don’t name them, as what might put you off is speaking to anyone who already has chickens in their garden. They usually have a horror story of one night when a fox got in and, well you can probably guess the rest. So if you’re going to do it, do it right. Make sure you have a well built chicken coop/house/shed whatever you want to call it.

But not only that, ensure you have a fox proof chicken run too. Paying particular attention to the edges so that nothing can dig under. 

Are Chickens Loud?

Chickens aren’t noisey, unless you get a cockerel which will ‘‘cockadoodledoo’’ each morning at dawn. Did you know that certain breeds of cockerels when ‘crowing’ are as loud as a motor bike starting up? So if you only planned on having a small flock, maybe keep it to hens and leave the cockerel out of it so the neighbours can enjoy their sleep. 

The only trouble, report people who keep chickens in their garden is them scratching up the flower beds. This will only happen of course if you decide to free range them and let them out of the run each morning. Even then you haven’t actually got to get up each morning, as you can now buy automatic chicken coop doors. These crafty things have sensors which sense light and when the time is right, pop, the door slides open and out comes the chicken. The same happens at night, but in reverse, safely locking them away. If you like a lie in – this option is definitely for you.  

As for dogs and cats, well most cats look down on us and most dogs look up to us (like we are going to feed them every few seconds) so I guess that makes us, ‘piggy in the middle’.