Hen-keeping Starter Guide

Hen-keeping is an incredibly rewarding experience and ex-commercial hens are ideal for beginners. Here are the basics you need to get started.

Choosing your coop

There are lots of coops to choose from so here are some suggestions to help you find the best home for your girls:

Cleaning out the coop

Minimal daily cleaning is required to ensure your girls stay happy and healthy. We recommend the following:

Feeding and drinking


While it’s lovely to treat your hens there are certain rules to be aware of:


Hens need daily care and aren’t the kind of pet that can be left for a couple of days unattended. They like routine so keepers should establish this from day one.

General health

Regular handling of hens means you’ll quickly pick up any health issues. Here are some points to be aware of:

You can read through our hen examination guidelines if you would like more information.

Useful information:

Defra registration – We recommend all flocks, large and small, be registered with Defra. This will give you valuable information on what to do in the unlikely event that there is an outbreak of a notifiable disease – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/poultry-registration

Weather tips – https://www.bhwt.org.uk/topics/weather-tips/

Introducing newly re-homed hens – https://www.bhwt.org.uk/topics/newly-re-homed-chickens/

Poorly hens and health information – https://www.bhwt.org.uk/topics/health-sheets/

Hen friendly Vets – https://www.bhwt.org.uk/information/find-your-nearest-hen-friendly-vet/

Good Husbandry – https://www.bhwt.org.uk/husbandry/