Many of us opened gifts of various shapes and sizes on Christmas morning, but David Beckham's was arguably the most unexpected of all. The Beckhams celebrated the holiday in their Cotswolds country abode – or, more specifically, outside in their newly developed chicken coop – home to David's presents.
'What did you get for Christmas, David?' Victoria asks. The answer was not only one but multiple chickens (or rather, 'Beckham chickens,' as Victoria names them), who had already accustomed well to their coop.
The Cotswolds Hills, located in southwest England, is the perfect environment for keeping chickens, but with the right advice, it's more than possible to follow this age-old practice (dating back between 7,000-10,000 years) in our own backyard.
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David and Victoria chose a wooden coop surrounded by a white fence that keeps the animals safe; however, we can also build a brick alternative. After building a coop, expert Fred Miller, the founder of Chickens Eat, recommends providing comfortable nesting boxes for our hens. 'These should be clean, dry, and lined with straw or wood shavings. You should ensure one nesting box per 3-4 hens,' he comments.
It's also wise to install sturdy roosting bars for our chickens to perch on at night. 'These should be higher than the nesting boxes and designed to allow them to sit comfortably without crowding.'
Lighting, cleanliness, and security are also key to long-term chicken coop success. 'Adequate lighting is essential for egg production. Ensure your coop receives natural daylight during the day. I'm not a big fan of artificial light, so I say avoid if you can,' Fred says.
Fred Miller started raising urban chickens during the pandemic. He founded his site, Chickens Eat, to share knowledge and experiences with feeding chickens, including what foods they can safely consume and some treats they’ll love.
When it comes to hygiene, Fred explains we should regularly remove droppings, old bedding, and old nesting materials to limit disease and pests. We should also replace bedding as needed and clean water and feed containers regularly.
'In terms of security, lock your coop securely at night to protect your chickens from nocturnal predators like raccoons and owls. Ensure that the locks are childproof, as some raccoons are quite clever,' Fred says.
'I personally use an automatic door that I program to open and close at specific times. Chickens are trained pretty easily to go in at night on their own. This ensures they are safe should you forget to lock them up.'
For more advice, we can take (yet another) lead from David, who turned to this guide on keeping chickens. It's available on Amazon below.
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Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.
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