Keeping Urban Chickens

In this five and a half minute video, the issue of keeping chickens in the urban environment  (London) is discussed.

If you want to watch the video then go ahead but if you want to read a full transcript of the video then please find it below.

Start of Video Transcript

A lot of people would love to keep chickens but they live in an urban space, so I’ve  come to East London to show you it can be done.

Meet Martin Williams, he keeps three chickens and he’s been doing this for two years.

Fresh eggs is a big driver, and letting the kids have some animals, some pets really that they could play with but which were useful instead of cats or a dog that just ate things and don’t give you anything back.

And also they help with the gardening, they’re good with the garden eating pests… and getting rid of rubbish that we’ve got as well.

Do they really lay a lot of eggs?

During the summer and the spring and summer and autumn we get loads of eggs.  Usually three eggs a day.

But each of the chickens will lay between 5 and 6 eggs a week and so you get a real decent stack of eggs.

Do you know which hen laid those?

yea the the white one the big one, the black one lays the dark brown eggs and the little one lays white eggs, but smaller.

So they are properly free range in a Hackney way

I mean that small space, and they would be, if they were free range chickens you would buy eggs from the supermarket, they wouldn’t have as much space as they’ve got in there.

Hello little chickens, Don’t be afraid.  This is a very interesting plumage.

This is a very interesting plummage

What is this?

She’s a particular breed, she’s Poland is just one of the crested breeds.  And she’s the easiest one to catch because she can’t see you coming from behind.

So she’s molting, does that mean she’s not laying eggs at the moment.

Well they tend to stop laying eggs or slow down in the winter anyways, so at the minute we only have one chicken laying eggs.

But come this spring they’ll get going again.  It tends to be November through to maybe February that we get less eggs.  They’re not quite as “pretty animals” as your dog or cat might be.

The kids know that they’re going to get eaten at some point and they are pretty OK about it.

Brutal!  Brutal!

I think it’s important the kids know where food comes from, and know what meat is, and they are very practical about it and quite happy to eat things that have been shot, eat a rabbit or something like that.  They know exactly what it all is.

Oh cover your poor ears Poland, I’m going to let you down now, there you are.

So this is an Eggloo which is a kind of quite a posh urban chicken house.

Yea these, this is the big Eggloo as well the Cube and  you can have up to ten chickens in there although I think that it Would be a bit crowded.  But we built our own cage, a run to attach to it, because that gave the chickens a bit more space and fitted in the space we had in the garden.

So you built all this?

Yea, this is just, we just made this up ourselves and attached the Eggloo to it as best we could.

This was £400 and then you put this all up, and they’re not really sort of paying you back in eggs particularly.

We pay very little money to feed them and we are getting 12 eggs a week and which when they’re organic expensive eggs that’s well over 2 pounds a week worth of eggs, so it wouldn’t take that long to pay back the £500 we spent on getting them in the first place.


And how do you find the Eggloos? Is it easy to kind of clean out and everything?

The real advantages, because it’s plastic, it really is easy to clean.  It’s easy to keep pests and you can get various mites living in the wood and things, and it’s much easier to get rid of them in this kind of thing.

It’s also quite practical, it’s got a tray underneath which you can take out with all the poo on it and it’s got a separate nesting box that you can easily clear out and a handy hatch on the side where you can get your eggs out without having to open up the whole thing.

So it’s quite well thought out, they are a bit expensive but it does save you a lot of money and messing about in the long run.

So you’ve got this feed and you’ve got scraps obviously

Yep they do really well on scraps.  Just leftover stale crusts, they love apple cores that’s one of the kids Marmite on toast we actually tend to give them Marmite on toast anyway because it has a good vitamin supplement for them.

I like a chicken that knows what it wants.

They eat a huge number of scraps from the garden because we grow quite a lot of our own food.  You have to net stuff off, especially little seedlings, they’ll kill them off.

But as soon as the plants are bigger and more established then they’re actually, they’re more useful cause they eat so many slugs out from around the base, even if they do have to bite the edge of your cabbage, it’s worth it.

We break up all our leaves and chop them in there.instead and they break it down and poo all over them. So they rot down a lot quicker and we get a lot more compost and better compost as a result of the chickens.

Now there were four chickens, there’s now three.  What has occurred, because this is obviously a sad story.

One day the fox came to visit and took one of the chickens.  And since then they’ve been a lot more cooped up they come out in the garden while we’re out here but if we are in the house we put them back in the cage again.

So the big question, how long are these ones going to last and are you going to eat them?

Well they lay eggs from around 2-3 years.  And then their egg laying really slows down and We’re not going to keep them if they’re not laying eggs because we haven’t the space to get new ones and I’m not feeding chickens that don’t provide us anything back.

I think the trick is to kill them early when they’re still tender enough to eat and miss out on some of the eggs, or do you kill them later when they’re probably not fit for a great deal of cooking but at least you’ve had the maximum number eggs.

If I’m honest we were going to do the early one  but we never got around to buying new chickens so by default they’ve ended up lasting a bit longer.


End of video transcript

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