Grant Brereton, a poultry breeder and an authority on poultry genetics, chooses his favourite products for henkeeping

When asked to list my favourite items when it comes to this wonderful hobby of chicken keeping, it wasn’t a difficult task. There are a few things with which I couldn’t be without and have been invaluable to me over the years. Here are my top choices:

1 Creative Poultry Breeding Book

Originally printed in 1985 by the late Dr Clive Carefoot, this book is regarded as the poultry bible when it comes to breeding, rearing and showing advice. Dr Carefoot was a personal friend of mine and had an innate ability with stock that was unique. His lucid writing style and down-to-earth approach make for a fascinating read that will improve the skills of any henkeeper. In my view this is the best book that’s available when it comes to learning how to keep pure breeds going and improve them. The general advice, too, is invaluable.

Available from: Emerson Books

2 Poultry Club Leg Rings

Ever since returning from a Dutch show [where closed leg ringing is compulsory] I have opted to use the official Poultry Club of Great Britain leg rings. They are fitted to the birds at around 6-8 weeks of age and slide over their toes. They cannot be fitted at a later point and the only way of removal is to cut them off with pliers. They are cheap at roughly 25p each and are a great help for tracking individual birds. Each ring has its own identification number.

Available from: Poultry Club of Great Britain

3 Brinsea Octagon 20 Incubator

During my breeding and showing career, the name Brinsea has featured prominently and I have always been an avid user of their products. Last year I treated myself to an Octagon 20 with turn cradle and it was running every time I had a broody sitting (in case she gave up or needed more fertile eggs if the ones beneath her weren’t fertile). I was really impressed with the results so would recommend this machine to anyone.

Available from: Brinsea and other retailers

4 Brinsea Mini Advance Incubator

The Mini Advance is a 7-egg dome incubator which is like a toy to any chicken keeper and is a lot of fun. I found mine so easy to use and if the eggs were fertile they hatched. These are ideal little incubators for schools and families starting out with a few chickens and wanting to hatch a few of their own, because every movement of the chicks can be observed through the plastic dome cover.

Available from: Brinsea and other retailers

5 Fancy Feed Breeders Pellets

I was made aware of the difference between breeders and layers pellets many years ago when owner of the former Wernlas Collection of Rare Poultry, Shaun Hammon, was getting his own mixes of breeders pellets made by a local company. With his operation being of such a scale, he wouldn’t have opted to pay for extra vitamins and minerals to be added to his layers pellets if it wasn’t necessary. He told me the two varieties were worlds apart (this was also Dr Carefoot’s view), and since then I have always used breeders pellets for maximum egg production, fertility and quality of egg and chick. I, like many others, find that the Fancy Feed company make excellent breeders pellets.

Available from: Fancy Feed Company and other retailers

6 Heygates Baby Chick Crumbs

There are arguments for and against the use of ACS (an anti cocciodosis preparation) in chick crumbs and growers pellets, but I have always been a fan of the feed that was medicated. My birds have always grown well on Heygates so I am reluctant to change it now, and have always been impressed with the price and quality of this product.

Available from: Heygates & Other Retailers

7 Nature’s Grub Diatomaceous Earth

For me, having some form of Diatomaceous Earth onsite is a must because you never know when that next outbreak of mite or lice will take hold. I’m always vigilant when it comes to my stock, so any infestations on birds or in housing are always minimal, but it’s good to have some powder that can be used to ease the burden of individuals or treat the cracks in between timber in a hen house. I find this product effective and a very reasonable price. I always use a mask when applying it.

Available from: Nature’s Grub & Other Retailers

8 My Brooder

My brooder came in handy this year when I wanted to hatch some eggs before any hens were ready to go broody. It comprised of a large inside rabbit hutch, galvanised feeder, 3-litre drinker, some shavings and a hanging heat lamp.

Available from: Farm & Pet Place

9 My Littleacre house

I have been impressed with Littleacre houses since I first saw them many years ago at The National Show. They are intelligently designed and made of quality timber. The nest boxes are situated on the side and the perches are removable and higher than the next boxes to discourage overnight fouling. The feed and water is accessed from the back, below the removable droppings board and there is an external pophole on the run. A great product.

Available from:

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