Pretty much everything you need to know about small scale poultry keeping is covered in the poultry section of the Accidental Smallholder.  Sections covered are: Introduction, Buying Poultry, Poultry Breeds, Transporting Poultry, Introducing New Hens, Poultry Housing, Land and Fencing for Poultry, Poultry Food and Drink, Poultry Health and Wellbeing, Egg Production, Breeding Poultry, Poultry for Meat, Slaughtering Poultry and Showing Poultry.

The Smallholder Series also includes a number of pages about Poultry, covering the ‘Basic Principles of Rearing and Management of Chickens’, as well as Chicken Breeds and Chickens – Breeding and Incubation.  Included are also pages on ducks, geese and turkeys. 

The poutrykeeper.com has pages devoted to chickens (the Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Chickens is another useful starting place), geese, turkeys, guinea fowl and quail.

Keeping a few hens for personal use or for limited sales is a widespread practice throughout Scotland and indeed, accounts for a large proportion of the 1.1 billion or so eggs produced annually.  While it is not necessary to register a flock of less than 50 birds, eggs sold for human consumption in the EU must ‘be sold in accordance with marketing standards legislation’ (for more information, see:  Egg Marketing Standards, ScotGov.  These regulations do not apply to eggs sold directly by producers to consumers for their own needs at the farm gate, or by door-to-door selling.  However, these eggs must be from the producer's own hens, and none of the quality and weight grading or labelling specifications set out in the Regulations may be used.  Note also that if you run a cockerel, you cannot legally sell the eggs for human consumption.

It is incumbent on all the keepers of livestock to maintain the best possible welfare standards for their animals.  The Scottish Government publish Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Laying Hens.  ‘The Code is intended to encourage all those who care for farm animals to adopt the highest standards of husbandry. Without good stockmanship, animal welfare can never be adequately protected. Adherence to these recommendations will help flock-keepers to reach the required standard’.  This document covers all the aspects of keeping laying hens and it is recommended that anyone planning to keep such hens should make themselves familiar with its content.

More information about regulations and also inspections is produced by Rural Payments and Services, together with many useful links.

This project is funded by a generous donation from Mr & Mrs T Hubbard, New York, USA through the NTS Foundation USA and by a grant from the Ernest Cook Trust
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