1. Always have three or more. Hens are happiest in a flock and three is the minimum number. They are very hierarchic­al so there always has to be a top hen and a bottom hen.

If you only have one or two they will feel put out and weird.

2. By all means give them a hen house but don’t expect them to use it. In nature hens sleep in trees so that is what they will do at your place.

3. If you want really good eggs, feed them really good feed. My feed contains seeds and legumes grown in New Zealand and not imported and treated with chemicals or radiation at the border.

4. You will never have enough eggs. Hens don’t lay every day and sometimes they don’t lay at all during the winter or if they’re moulting or broody or just don’t feel like it.

5. If you find a nest of eggs, you can test if they are okay to eat by putting them in a bowl of water. The ones that float are no good.

6. If you want tame hens, you need to get them young and tame them every day to feed out of your hand and then jump on your lap – or your head as one of my hens liked to do. Once tame they enjoy cuddles and are wonderful pets.

7. Some hens in your flock will get sick and die. You have done nothing wrong. Some of them seem to succumb to a virus which weakens them, then you see them sleeping a lot, then you find them dead.

8. Only get a rooster if you live in the country, can sleep through crowing at all hours of the night – especially on a full moon – and want baby chickens.

9. Do not clip their wings. They need their wings to fly into the tree at night but also to get up high quickly if they are being pursued by a rabid dog or cat. I’ve never seen a chicken actually fly away.

10. Breeds don’t matter. Go for a wild’sh breed if you want really healthy hens. Most people in the country have hens fathered by some rooster that showed up or was dumped, in our case. They turn out to be really healthy and rugged unlike the red shavers which are mass produced for egg production.

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