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Crack rising egg prices and save £300 a year by keeping chickens

Households struggling with rising bills can embrace the spirit of post-war British austerity by keeping chickens

Households struggling with rising bills can embrace the spirit of post-war British austerity by keeping chickens.

Free range egg prices are skyrocketing due to rising grain costs and a recent outbreak of bird flu. Buyers are paying £2 for half a dozen eggs, although some farmers are threatening to halt production altogether because they can’t turn a profit.

However, if you use just 3 square feet of your garden, you can enjoy 250 free eggs a year from a single hen – that’s an annual saving on food bills of around £80.

MY CHICKENS LAY FOUR EGGS A DAY

As someone who keeps chickens at my home near Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, I enjoy fresh eggs almost every day.

This saves me time and money when shopping. My brood consists of three Cream Legbar crosses and a few Silkie chickens.

Financial Coop: Toby Walne tends his chickens at his home near Bishop’s Stortford

They lay an average of four eggs a day at this time of year, but stop laying for up to four months over the winter.

My total egg savings are £300 a year. But I also enjoy them a lot.

An early morning visit to the chicken coop in the garden to feed them is the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life.

And so far the foxes have stayed away.

During the era of ‘dig for victory’ rationing introduced in World War II – which lasted until 1954 – it was common to keep chickens in the garden to supplement meals. The alternative was a ration of one fresh egg per week plus a can of powdered egg every two months.

Jane Howorth, founder of the British Hen Welfare Trust, says: “You get egg-laying birds for free. We have 48 centers across the country where you can pick up our birds for free – but we accept donations.” She adds: “We rehome 60,000 laying hens each year – birds that might otherwise be in a curry, meat pie or dog food would land. You can often go on for three or four more years.”

These former battery hens, typically Lohmann Brown hybrids, are typically 18 months old and capable of laying eggs daily. Alternatively, you may prefer to choose your own breed. Point of lay chickens typically cost £15 or more and websites such as chickens.allotment-garden.org have information on around 500 breeders who sell poultry. It also details plots available for hire from as little as £12 a year for those who don’t have enough space at home to keep chickens.

Since late last year, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has issued guidance that all chickens in pens should be kept under cover to stop the spread of bird flu. This applies to chickens that are kept in the apartment, in the allotment garden or in commercial husbandry. Sites such as The Carpenter’s Daughter advise how to build cages with enclosed spaces using materials costing around £100.

Howorth says: “If you don’t feel like building a coop and enclosure yourself, you can buy a basic coop from as little as £200. Outfits like Omlet offer designer plastic houses from around £400, but if you want to break the budget you might consider a £4,000 Flyte So Fancy gypsy wagon.

Those concerned about foxes causing carnage should consider an electric fence that runs off a 12-volt car battery. These cost around £120 and keep chickens safe without harming a predator.

Although chickens need to be fed and cared for – the coop cleaned and the straw in the egg laying area changed perhaps every two weeks – owners soon more than make up for these costs in the savings of producing their own freshly laid eggs.

Kaye Robson, owner of Robsons Feed Supplies in Clavering, Essex, says: “A hen uses less than 20 pounds of feed a year. I keep 25 birds and they consume an 11 lb bag of mixed corn a month and a 12 lb bag of layer pellets.

A sprinkling of grit ensures the eggshells are strong and fresh water daily is a must. Poultry owners usually keep at least three hens as a poultry company. Neighbors are best kept cute by occasionally showing them free eggs. You must get their permission if you want to keep a rooster.

For bees and pigs, ask the neighbors first

BEES

A hive can produce up to 60 pounds of honey a year – a harvest worth £300 if you sell one pound jars for £5 each.

But before you start counting all that money, you need to consider the expenses that come with this rewarding hobby. A basic hive costs around £200, while an offshoot – a small starter colony with one queen – could cost another £150. A protective suit with some basic tools, such as B. a smoker to calm the bees adds another £150. Contact the British Beekeepers Association for more information, including courses for would-be beekeepers.

PIGS

Whether it’s the Gloucestershire Old Spot, Black Tamworth or Saddleback, you can choose from more than a dozen British breeds to bring home the bacon. But be aware of the mess they make out of flower beds. Each pig typically requires 30 square feet to wallow in. Fences and a stable cost at least £250.

Keep at least two pigs for company. Piglets start at £25 and when they are four months old they can be sold to a butcher for £250. You can eat 2kg of feed a day, which costs £5 a week. They need understanding neighbors who don’t mind farm smells. Contact the British Pig Association for details.

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Crack rising egg prices and save £300 a year by keeping chickens

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