A healthy hen

Our last post was on choosing the right breed for your backyard so now you’ve chosen your preferred breed and have contacted the breeder that you may of found in the magazine, pets 4 Homes or even gumtree and now you need to know what a healthy hen looks like to avoid any issues or to resolve them from bringing home a unhealthy bird. 

First things first the breeder. If they’re hiding something from you its best not to purchase the birds, they may also take advantage of your knowledge if your starting to keep chickens. Best way to buy birds is ask, see on poultry networks and Facebook pages if anyone knows any poultry breeders near to you and what they think about them.

Now your breeder is secure just check the birds incase of any illnesses the breeder may of not picked up on.

  1. A bright shiny eye, no clouding or foam this could be a respitory problem.
  2. Nice smooth legs, scaly leg mites can cause rough and irratable legs on your birds if your hen has scaly legs coat them with vasaline.
  3. Sneezing and heavy breathing ; this also may be a respitory illness or mycoplasma and usually solved if taken straight to the vet for some antibiotics.
  4. Generally under the weather such as hunched over, siting in a corner etc. This could be a whole array of things and is best to search on the internet first with exact details or a trip to the vets to find out what may be wrong. 
  5. A messy bum isn’t as such a life or death situation but Still nearly to be cleared up scince it can lead to maggots and secondary illnesses, if your hen has a messy bun it may just be where her fluffyness is getting in the way so just trim it. It could be lice so check for white clumps of eggs around he vent and if she does have lice  purchase some poultry lice dust to shake under ur wings and around her vent. It could be worms so using a specialised feed or powder can clear this up.
  6. Lumps me bums, look for lumps especially below the vent this could be a stuck egg is the hen is not laying and is likely to need vet advice. A rock hard crop could be a impacted crop so massage the crop breaking up the food with help from olive oil then if it does not clear please get advice from a vet, otherwise it could be sour crop then withdraw food and water 24 hours an dose 3ml of neat brandy to help kill the fungus causing sour crop.

So if there’s may thing that your chicken could have what does a healthy bird look like?

We hope this help you to resolve your chickens illness or make you feel confident when buying chickens.

At the moment we have a poorly chicken, Ivy the pekin you can get updated on her at Theurbanhens on Facebook.


Top 10 breeds for a backyard flock

Wether your a first time poultry keeper or a experienced one looking to expand here are some tips on choosing the right breed for you, first thing to decide is what you want them for. Most common purposes for urban or garden keepers are eggs, showing and breeding and you might want them to look nice or be child friendly,the  less common purpose is meat. You might slaughter a spare cockerel or old hen as a meal for you and your family and therefore want a dual purpose breed.

Hybrid or pure breed

Hybrids are generally bred for eggs although some are produced to grow incredibly fast and therefore can break bones and have heart problems. If you have a egg producing hybrid they do lay incredibly well 260 to even 320+ a year! This said hybrids will live considerably shorter lives than purebreeds and due to the amount of eggs they create they can get prolapsed vents and egg boundness lastly the males are slaughtered after hatching but most hybrids are vaccinated against common deseaises . Purebreeds come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of breeds to fit your set up, most purebreeds  an be taken to shows and contests if of good quality. Even though they may lay only 100-150+ eggs per year over their lifespan they can provide just as many as a hybrid. Some pure chickens can be rare and therefore breeding or even keeping them can help to preserve them. If you do breed heritage, rare or pure breeds it’s worth having a dual purpose type: the females can lay a reasonable amount of eggs whilst the males can be slaughtered for a nice sized carcass.

Top ten breeds

due to the fact we’ve never kept any meat hybrids I will not review them.


  1. Rhode Island reds: this hardy breed is the base of many egg laying hybrids due to the fact they are a dual purpose breed and are incredibly friendly, although these birds aren’t rare they are a wonderful heritage breed.
  2. Orpington: a English breed created by Thomas cook in the village of Orpington, this breed lay well for a purebreed and come in a range of colours which will contrast in your garden perfect if you’d like a pretty bird. Due to their tameness and size they are good mothers and make great pets. 
  3. Serama: tiny little chooks with massive personalitys this true bantam breed originates from Malaysia where they are kept as house pets, a true bantam is a small chicken(bantam) with no large fowl of its breed. The males can be kept in a urban garden since their crow is very quiet and is like a cockadoodaledoo although it sound as if their voice has broken halfway through! The males love their “wives” and are very gentle towards humans.
  4. Pekin: another true bantam these little chickens also have attitude and aren’t afraid of their bigger flock members. With big feathers on their feet they need to be kept dry or trimmed of, but this feature makes them quite funny when they run its more of a side to side Waddle and the feathers mean they are less destructive to the ground. They make great mothers too.
  5. Leghorn: this Mediterranean breed are heat hardy and common in hotter countries for this reason aswell as the May eggs they lay, 300+ large white eggs per year. The way they keep cool is by sending blood through their large combs but when it’s cold they can get frostbite but a bit of Vaseline can help if you put a bit on the comb.
  6. Legbar: created by Reginald Crundall Punnett after the first three arucana hens were brought to England and the male was slaughtered by accident. Punnett cross bred these hens to create the crested cream Legbar which not only lay blue eggs but are sexable at day old the males are lighter with a large spot on the head and the females have dark stripes. Legbars are flighty but can be tamed. Legbars are the opposite of true bantams in the fact they only come in large fowl.


    7. Warren: this hybrid is deprived from the Rhode Island Red and light Sussex, used in the egg industry these friendly birds will lay nearly a egg a day and are perfect starter birds, cheaper than purebreeds these are easy to come by.

    8. Skylines: these are a crossbred Legbar laying more eggs it too can lay a blue egg, some olive and even a few cream. These birds share the looks of a Legbar but have a cream neck unlike the legbars grey, they also can have a salmon chest or lovely red feathers.

     9. Goldtop : this silkieXsussex isn’t bred for eggs but for friendliness and broodiness. Going broody most of the year they lay around 150 eggs, but are extremely friendly and pretty birds, harder to find a breeder of these.

         10. Copper black: a Maran hybrid who shares the gentle personality of the purebreed, the glossy black feathers and shiny rich brown eggs but lay more per year and tend to be vaccinated like most hybrids. These also are cheaper and more common than a purebreed.

Which ever breed you choose make sure you read up on the standards and other information and purchase from a good breeder.