“From the moment I took our ex-bat girls home I have been an ardent supporter of the work of BHWT. It was sad to see these creatures emerge into the daylight, bewildered, unfeathered and somehow disrespected. Now I am pleased to report they roam around our garden getting under my feet and the garden fork! They have laid eggs for us almost every day since we adopted them and proudly show off their new plumage!
I was thrilled to be asked to be a Patron of BHWT. Jane and the team have an intelligent and sensible approach and it is no surprise that they achieve success and respect within the industry. Please do all you can to spread the word to friends and family to buy eggs and food products that contain only free-range eggs. It is the very least we can do for our feathered friends.”
Julia Kendell kindly answered some questions which featured in issue 1 of Chicken & Egg, Spring 2012.
1. Favourite breed – posh bird or ex-bat?
I keep a motley crew of hens.. I currently have 14 girls and one cockerel (lucky chap!). I have 4 ex-bats, 1 Light Sussex, 1 Araucana, 1 Creme Legbar, 1 Copper Maran, 1 buff Orpington, 1 white Orpington, and 4 mixtures that I hatched last Summer. I like to keep a mixed flock for variety in egg colour predominantly and feathering. But there’s no question that the ex-bats are the most characterful and fun to have around. They love nothing more than following me around the veg garden when I’m digging and are the only ones who think it’s ok to venture into our house to scoff the cat food!
2. Hen housing – good wood or plastic fantastic?
I’ve tried all possibilities. I currently have an Omlet Cube (designed for 8-10) and a small traditional wooden coop both attached to a 9ft x 18ft Flytes of Fancy Protection Pen (the chooks are allowed to free range around the entire garden when someone is home to keep an eye on them). I find the plastic coop much easier to keep clean and haven’t had a single incidence of red mite in the three years I’ve had it. All of the hens choose to squeeze into it too despite having two to choose from! I have tried a recycled plastic hen house but felt it didn’t offer adequate insulation and the solid floor was a nightmare to keep clean… which is a shame as I would opt for sustainable products wherever possible. I started out with 6 ex-bats and the Cube which worked brilliantly. Now that my ‘passion’ has grown somewhat, I need to re-think their living quarters and will probably build something magnificent in the garden for them.. when I’ve finished designing our house!
3. The weekend coop clean – yours truly or him indoors?
The chooks are very much my domain, although my OH does love having them around. I turn the straw in the nest box daily and empty the poop ‘drawers’ in the Cube every 4 or 5 days. Every Sunday my first job of the day is a change of straw and a check-over of the coops. Strangely my OH tends to ‘step in to help’ when it comes to pressure washing the coop every few months! I find keeping a layer of bark chippings in the run helps to keep the mud at bay and the chooks happy.
4. Your garden – hen-free or hen-pecked?
It is evident that the hens love to free range around the garden. It is annoying when they make a mess of the flower borders but presently our garden isn’t that ‘ordered’ (we are demolishing and building a new house in the next 12 months) so we are not too precious about it. There are foxes locally, but we have been fortunate, thus far, not to have had any assaults during daylight hours. Whilst it would be devastating to lose them, I take the view that I would rather they have the opportunity for as natural an existence as possible.
5. Favourite eggy brekkie – full English or dainty egg soldiers?
Ooh it has to be smoked salmon benedict with home-made hollandaise and chargrilled asparagus!
6. The British Hen Welfare Trust— mother hen or cock of the roost?
I am so proud of what the British Hen Welfare Trust has achieved, not only from the perspective of offering a second-chance to over 300,000 battery hens, but also in their intelligent engagement with egg producers across the UK and furthering attempts at legislation across the EU to ensure millions of hens are kept humanely.
7. Weekend bake – gooey gateau or cheesy quiche?
>I am a true Taurean.. I love my food! I make a lot of quiches, and cakes feature large in our household. My latest craze is kiwi muffins, and hot rhubarb and custard muffins. Yum!
8. British farmers – good egg or bad egg?
British farmers have a tough time with prices continually beaten down and cheap EU imports threatening their trade. I support our farmers wholeheartedly for taking the lead in the new cage welfare regulations and being ready to adopt the 2012 legislation where few other EU countries have done.
9. Guilty pleasure – Creme egg or fried egg?
Give me a real egg anytime. Creme eggs too sweet!
10. Your home – DIY Den or Designer Dream?
Ha! Everyone assumes my home is fabulous, being an interior designer, but at the moment we’re living in the old shack that will be demolished when we come to build our new home. I call it ‘charming’ to put a positive spin on it but bits are dropping off it all the time now.
11. Glamorous gladrags or jeans & jumpers?
I’m definitely a ‘both’ person. I am a great believer in contrast in life; hot Summers and freezing Winters, grubby Festivals and opera at Covent Garden, and chilling out in a woolly jumper and Uggs on a weekend and teetering in 5″ heels and slinky frocks for a party. One without the other wouldn’t feel complete.
12. Your favourite co-star – handyman Craig Phillips or dandyman Trevor McDonald?!
Oh both please! Craig is a complete sweetheart and just as you would imagine, down to earth and a really top chap. I think it would be fabulous to have Trevor McDonald over for dinner as he has reported on so many historic events over the years.« Previous Page