Keeping our feathered friends happy

Backyard chicken keeping is a hobby with benefits. Obviously, there are eggs on demand (unless little Beryl has decided to go broody again) with fresh, delicious, sunset-orange yolks that literally burst with flavour. But pet hens offer more than just a food supply. Their clucking and warbling, dust-bathing, scratching and pecking, and downright entertaining antics – especially the Benny Hill-style chases that occur when one of them lands a big juicy worm – can have a hugely positive impact on their owner’s sense of wellbeing.

Among my motley crew are a few chunky home-bred hybrids, a couple of fluffy-bottomed lavender pekins, a dainty lemon sablepoot who looks like she’s wearing the world’s most impractical leopard-skin boots, and Doris the Poland, a ditzy blonde who likes nothing more than to fall asleep in my arms, purring (I’m not kidding, she vibrates, which I am assured is a sign of her contentedness).

The domestic poultry market in Britain is booming as more folk discover the joys of chooks, and therefore it’s not surprising to see poultry product manufacturers are trying hard to keep pace with developments. Chickens appear to have risen in the pecking order of domestic pets so that their status in the household is almost on a level with cats and dogs, and owners are keen to ensure they are doing their best to keep their beloved birds as happy and healthy as possible.

Two issues that domestic keepers can face, however small their menagerie, are pecking among their hens, and chicken runs (as well as lawns if the chickens have wider garden access) that can soon turn into a mudbath. And here’s where Vencomatic Group might be able to use their expertise in designing and producing commercial poultry products to assist the humble domestic keeper… I got the chance to trial two of their products (second review in another post) with my hens, and here is my verdict.


















The Range Protector

Most backyard chicken owners will have been through the same experience – you start off with a lovely grassy run, and within a week it’s bare earth. Similarly, if you allow even just a small number of chooks to free range around your garden, there’s a big risk that not only will your flowerbeds be dug up, your lush grass might well turn into pure mud.

Again, Vencomatic have realised that us small-scale keepers can benefit from their experience and their simple yet practical bit of kit, the Range Protector, is available to purchase in single units. This 59cm by 114cm plastic grid is very effective and it not only helps to protect your grass from damage caused by the hens, but it also protects your garden from heavy foot traffic in general and keeps feet (animal and human) free of mud.

It's a pretty cost-effective way to both protect the ground and stop yourself slipping all over the place! It’s light enough to carry with ease so you can move it around if you wish, but it stays put once it’s in position and feels nice and grippy underfoot. I can see how these protectors would be useful with a variety of animals, and whether you’re dealing with a small backyard or a large paddock.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see more crossover between commercial and domestic poultry products and it’s fantastic to see that companies like Vencomatic – which let’s not forget have invested massively in research and development with chicken welfare as a priority– are making some of their equipment available to ordinary consumers to buy as single units.


- Review by Sarah Mainprize.


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