No poultry matter

Brighton & Hove is a city famous for its seagulls, but the number of people keeping chickens in the city is steadily rising.

Obviously having freshly laid eggs makes keeping chickens particularly appealing but when you scratch the surface, there are multiple benefits.

Chicken school

Moulescomb Primary was one of the first schools in the city to keep chickens, incorporating their care into its gardening club activities.

The eggs the hens produce are used in the schools' breakfast club giving those children attending the opportunity to find out what a really fresh egg tastes like.

Not all children live in a home where keeping pets is an option, so having chickens in the school grounds may be the next best option for many students, helping develop the children's skills in animal husbandry. Studies have shown that children involved in animal care have proven health benefits. Read more about that here

A chicken a day keeps the Doctor away

At the other end of the age spectrum, a wonderful project called Henpower started in the Newcastle area which links the elderly with hen keeping projects. A study of the Henpower participants reported improved wellbeing, and reduced depression and loneliness, and in some cases, the reliance of routine medication was reduced. 

This model is in the process of being adopted here in Brighton and we can't wait. We'll let you know as soon as we have more details.

Of course if you have your own garden you could consider keeping chickens at home. They can be a useful addition to a growing system, scratching around and eating some pests, producing a useful source of fertility and demolishing the waste parts of garden plants like chard. For this reason they need to be carefully supervised/manged in the veg growing area as they can be very destructive to young plants.

What does keeping hens involve?

In considering keeping hens, you should be asking yourself questions like; can you give the birds the time and space they need? Will you be prepared to clean them out, deal with problems that may arise, feed them and give them constant access to fresh water? Can you provide them with a secure run to keep out Mr Fox and can you make use of their manure so that it doesn't become a problem. Even a valuable fertility resource can become pollution if you don't use it. Find out how much space you need and other practical things to consider.

How to get started with chickens

As with taking on the responsibility of any animal you should do your research first:

  • Read Up - there are many books and forums devoted to the subject. Practical Poultry is a good source of information, as is the book Chickens in the garden, Eggs in the Kitchen by Charlotte Popescu.
  • Go on a course – The Garden House in Brighton are running a course on small scale poultry keeping on 24th April (Cost: £25). Find out all you need to know about housing, feeding, egg laying, predators and hatching chicks.

One last piece of advice; consider keeping a female only flock. Even the world's most understanding neighbours may find their patience tested by a cockerel's crow at dawn!

*If anyone knows of any further research into the health benefits of keeping chickens, we'd love to hear about it. Please email