The Metfield Chicken Co-op


How it started
Metfield Chicken Co-op was established late in 2008 by a group of community-spirited individuals who all live in Metfield. The objectives of the project were to bring together the community, encourage social interaction on the village allotments site and provide a home to some battery hens.

The project started with a number of working parties throughout the winter months to clear the site and construct the fencing. The cost of the materials was funded solely by the group and, with a variety of skills amongst us, we coped well with the hard work!

We established that some funding might be available through Adnams, the local brewery at Southwold, who also manage a charity for providing funding to community-inspired groups within 25 miles of Southwold. Having established that we met the criteria, we completed the application form with fingers crossed. Thankfully, our application was successful and we used the money to purchase/adapt a shed to form the chicken house.

The first hens arrive
And so our project materialised. Our first eight hens arrived in March 2009; they were battery hens from the Little Hen Rescue centre near Tasburgh and looked very poorly, as you would expect. They were very timid and would not come outside the chicken house, even on bright sunny days. However, within a couple of months, their feathers had plumped up (along with their tummies); and they looked very healthy and friendly.

We then purchased some ‘point of lay’ hens – including two Skylines – Penny and Tuppence (who has just started laying blue eggs). New hens are best introduced at dusk when the hens are calm and there is less likelihood of them attacking each other.

They have a diet of layers’ pellets, corn and grit (to harden the egg shells) along with any kitchen vegetable scraps – particularly cabbage, lettuce and the odd strawberry! There are a couple of currant bushes within the run and we are also growing some sweetcorn for them to feed on.

How it works
Each member of the group takes responsibility for feeding, watering, cleaning out the chicken house and collecting eggs on a particular day of the week. The number of eggs each day each day, as do the shapes, sizes and colours. They are very fresh and taste wonderful.

Linking with schools
We’d like to work closely with local schools to provide hands-on learning experience for children and perhaps arrange a couple of informative talks, specifically on chickens and their welfare.

Thank you
We are grateful to Metfield United Charities, the land owner, for allowing us to undertake this project on the allotments site and to The Adnams Charity for their kind and generous financial support.

Joining the co-op
If you live in Metfield and are interested in knowing more or, perhaps, in joining the chicken co-op, please complete the form below.