Every wanted to know what its like to live with 14 Hens?
In January I went to photograph Liz and Kyle Riley's pets at their home situated on a quiet Culldesac In West Yorkshire. I was not too sure what I was in store, as they have some unusual pets, 2 Cats and 10 Rescue Hens....... Since my visit they now have 4 more hens.
From my very first encounter with these beauties I wanted to know a little bit more about keeping chickens, I caught up with Liz and asked her a few questions;
What made you want to keep chickens:
We are both mad animal lovers! When we moved into our current house we knew that our garden would have chickens in it one day. We saw a charity advertising on a local Facebook group and the rest is history!
“They love cuddles and occasionally they purr which is the most magical sound!”
How many hens did you start out with and how many have you got now?
We saw a charity asking for homes for 2,000 ex battery hens so we went and came away with 4 beauties. Since August 2019 we've gone back a further 2 times and now have 14 wonderful ladies!
What are all your hens called ?
Janeway (Janey), Buttercup, Ginger, Sansa, Arya, Beyoncé, Gaga, Babs, Florence, Princess Layer, Frida, Daenerys, Ruby and B'Ellana (Belly).
Describe to me a typical day with the hens?
Alarm clock at 6.30am as the mornings are lighter now. The girls get porridge and I get a coffee! I let the girls out to a cacophony of bokbokboks, poo pick the coop and while they munch their breakfast, I relax with a coffee. Throughout the day they have the run of our garden and garage. In nice weather they sunbathe, scratch through the grass and mud, occasionally having a dust bath (to keep themselves clean!). The girls love chasing grapes when we throw them, and can demolish a lettuce in 10 minutes flat! Bedtime is always good for a laugh, there's always one that stamps their little foot and decides to run off (chickens can run fast!). Then ensues a Benny Hill Sketch of me chasing them round the garden.
What are some of the highlights to owning hens?
Hens are such underrated pets. They are such little characters! They love cuddles and occasionally they purr which is the most magical sound! They do lay eggs but these are just a perk, they are in retirement with us. Our next door neighbour loves our girls as much as we do, and is well stocked up with our eggs.
“I go and sit with the chickens and I am instantly calm, they are great for my mental health.”
What is the not so glamorous side of owning hens?
Definitely cleaning out the coop! These little raptors poop every 20 minutes, so there is often a lot to clear up. They love digging so our garden is a little bare in patches, but it doesn't matter to us when you think about the awful conditions they have experienced up until now.
Do you both have a favourite hen and why?
We couldn't possibly tell you that, they'd find out!
Hen or Chicken whats the difference?
I'm not entirely sure. But they get called every name under the sun, raptors, fatties, chickadees, sweetiepies, ladies, babies, you name it!
Would you recommend getting hens?
Absolutely! When I have had a busy or hard day, I go and sit with the chickens and I am instantly calm, they are great for my mental health. We set up a webcam in our garage, so I can even have a peek at them when I'm at work for a quick pick me up.
Where are your hens from?
Give A Hen A Home, but there are a lot of rescue charities.
“Hens are such underrated pets. They are such little characters! They love cuddles and occasionally they purr which is the most magical sound!”
Behind the scenes
I set up my little studio in the garage, the Hens where very intrigued and a little cautious. This was my second time being up and close with hens and I must admit I was also a bit cautious frightened I was going to get pecked but that soon faded away.
The girls did amazing, they wasnt too sure what was going on but they was super behaved. The whole experience has made me consider getting some of my own hens, they truly are magnificent beauties.