Top tips on keeping chickens

How to outfox reynard

According to gypsy folklore, you should ask the men of the house to urinate around a chicken’s pen as the scent terrifies sly Mr Fox

Another old wives’ tale follows a similar logic, and recommends balls of human hair, stuffed into stockings and tied on to the fence of the chicken run. Why? Because we are an odorous species, and our hair is particularly rich in the oily secretions which give us our scent

Matthew Rice, chicken enthusiast and Country Life contributor, recommends hanging a radio—turned on—in a plastic bag from the coop, as foxes hate to hear the human voice (‘preferably Radio 2, as they particularly dislike the sound of Terry Wogan,’ he says)

Shoot the fox. ‘But it takes a heart of steel and a lightning trigger finger,’ warns another Country Life contributor, Carla Carlisle

Ros King recommends a mains-wired electric fence to keep the wily fox at bay

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is an advocate of the ladder system. The hen house is raised on an old telegraph pole, or similar stout support, to a height of about two metres. Access to the hen house is via a ladder, made by knocking simple steps into a long, stout pole. The design of the ladder is deliberately crude and rickety: a chicken will be able to use it, but a fox will not.

Chicken houses – what to buy and where to get them

Whatever the style of design, hen houses and chicken coops need to provide a secure place for your poultry to stay fit and healthy. We select some of our favourites

Omlet ( make funky, modern hen houses. This eglu cube can be used as a stand-alone house or placed inside its own integrated run. The standard run is two metres long, but it can be extended in one- metre sections.

Dorset-based Flyte So Fancy ( supply a range of flat-packed chicken runs and hen houses, including The Cottage Henhouse (above), as well as protective pens

Forsham Cottage Arks ( build a wide range of utilitarian hen houses and chicken coops

GD Cock-a-Hoop offers charming, hand-made hen houses (


Battery Hen Welfare Trust

Body campaigning to raise awareness about battery chicken farming; also a good source of ex-battery hens

The Poultry Club of Great Britain

Dedicated to preserving rare breeds, the club is

a useful source of help and advice for poultry keepers,

as well as providing details

of individual breed societies

Hen Keepers Association

A resource for anyone in need of information on the health, welfare and management of chickens

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