The Wernlas has been a big influence on my interest in chickens, says Grant Brereton, and I urge you to pay them a visit

The Wernlas Collection of Poultry holds fond memories for me. It was thrust into my consciousness one sunny day when sat around an outside cafe table with my family in nearby Church Stretton. My dad was reading the Shropshire Star and he found an advert stretched along the bottom of the page advertising the rare breed centre.

Excited at the prospect, I pleaded if we could go. My dad pointed out that it was closed on Mondays, apart from Bank Holidays. It would typically be a Monday and I recall asking with just a shred of hope if ‘today’ was a Bank Holiday. “Afraid not” came the answer ‘But we’ll go anyway, see if we can peer over the fence.”

It was very exciting but painfully disappointing at the same time – I could see all these beautiful birds over the fence, but I couldn’t get near them! You have to imagine that to an eight year old boy who had only seen Light Sussex and hybrid layers before, this was a brand new and exciting world.

Living nearly two hours away, we never did get to go back as a family when it was open. Instead it was 13 years later – when I could drive myself. It still had the same magic as when I first saw all of those colourful birds over the fence.

This time was different though, I finally got to walk around and was in a position to buy some stock. There was so much to choose from that I could barely decide which breeds I fancied the most. I was very taken by the Partridge Wyandottes, Friesian Fowl, and Brown Leghorns.

All the birds are penned separately as breeding quartets or more of pure breeds. These coops consist of a well-thought-out housing area and adequate run, and are moved regularly onto fresh ground.

I decided upon a trio of Brown Leghorns and a quartet of Friesian Fowl. The birds were bought as growers – around 10 weeks old. Prices vary according to age and at the time it was possible to buy from hatching eggs to fully grown stock, which I am sure is still the case. However, demand was always high, so it was a case of getting in there first! It is always possible to phone and check that your chosen breed is available if you know what you are looking for beforehand.

The Wernlas Collection is ideal for newcomers to Poultry and has a magical feeling – especially if you catch it on a sunny day. I think the serene settings are a contributing factor and it makes for a very pleasant day out.

If you are keen on your history, there are many nearby landmarks, to include the famous Stokesay Castle and the Tudor town of Ludlow with its many attractions.

If you are drawn in by the Poultry on display, you will almost certainly be captivated by the many books and souvenirs in the gift shop by the main entrance. The Wernlas has definitely been a big influence on my interest in Poultry and I urge you to pay them a visit. Sue and Shaun will be more than happy to welcome you!

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