Advice and ‘Guarantee Terms’ for 12-18 week-old pullets

Our pullets are carefully reared from hatching eggs produced from ‘clean’ breeding flocks resulting in strong vigorous stock, which should grow into healthy and productive hens, therefore, we are happy to offer three months’ guarantee with the birds. We supply a large number each year, throughout the UK and abroad and claims on our Guarantee are unusual. These are usually due to management issues, like poor ventilation in housing, parasites, shortage of outside space, over stocking, mixing of ages, feeding issues, or boredom.  Hens which are stress free, with enough outside space and able to enjoy normal behaviours are more likely to remain healthy for many years and produce good quality eggs. Poultry keepers should bear in mind that the chicken is a jungle bird and many of their behavioural needs have changed little over the past ten thousand years. With this in mind, the challenge is to provide the best environment to encourage natural behaviour.

The points below are only a basic guide to avoid some common problems, and we are happy to help, as your primary information source, with any questions on the management of the birds before and after the sale. If in doubt, contact us before behavioural or health problems become established:

  • The hen house should be vermin proof, fox proof and well ventilated.
  • The house should be positioned within a fox proof area to keep foxes well clear of the house at night.
  • A strict vermin control regime should be in place.
  • Fresh water should be provided in a drinker of more than a day’s capacity.
  • Feed should be available at all times in a tube or treadle feeder.
  • Feed plain or natural growers’ pellets for up to 18 weeks of age. These should be free from Coccidiostats (ACS free) because our birds are vaccinated with Paracox 8, for Coccidiosis at day old. Recommended grower pellets brands are Marriages, Smallholder/Allen & Page, Dodson & Horrell.
  • Large size plain hen flint, in a separate container should be available up to 20 weeks of age. Chick and Grower size grit should not be given beyond 12 weeks of age because it is too small and passes through the digestive system. Jondo Hen Flint. 20Kg bags are the most economical buy and can be mixed with Jondo Oyster shell at 20 weeks.
  • Worm with Flubenvet soon after twenty weeks of age, then treat at least three times a year. Flubenvet is available ready mixed in Heygates and Marriages Layer pellets, in 5 and 10kg bags. Do not store as the shelf life is limited. Do not confuse Flubenvet with Vermex.
  • At 18-20 weeks feed good quality 18% protein poultry layers These should be available throughout the day, in a tube type or similar feeder. Intermittent feeding morning and evening is not good practice because the feed intake of less dominant birds in the flock will be reduced.
  • At 18 weeks Jondo Mixed Poultry Grit (flint + oyster shell) should be available at all times. The calcium supplied in layers feed is not sufficient for breeds producing thick shells.
  • 10 days after arrival of the birds, introduce a handful of mixed corn per bird, per day, in the late afternoon. Do not over-feed mixed corn, because it is a poor-quality low protein, fattening feed which does not provide a balanced diet, and it may reduce egg production and cause health problems.
  • Healthy treats in the form of insects, sardines, tuna, sweetcorn, whole cabbage, and kale, can be given from the start. Don’t chop greens.
  • Twice weekly give a high-grade multi-vitamin/mineral supplement (g., AviVit Tonic) in the water – particularly important during sudden changes in weather, at start of lay, or any other time of stress. In hot weather, (AviVit Electro Plus B electrolytes) should be added to the water – daily to maintain egg production and prevent dehydration and heat stress.
  • Allow access to fresh grass & green food each day. Never feed cut grass or chopped greens, as this can cause compacted crop or gizzard, leading to a permanently extended crop, crop infections or starvation and death.
  • Always keep at least two hens of the same ages and breed/strain for companionship.
  • Treat the house for red-mite weekly, inside and out, from April to November and monthly from December to Marchwith AviVit Pure, Fresh Water Sourced, Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth using the AviVit Powder Applicator. This can be backed up during severe challenges with a wet treatment, using Antec HD3 heavy duty detergent, applied with a knapsack or garden sprayer. The average house for 6-10 birds, requires about 8 litres of liquid treatment for a thorough drenching. If not treated as a precaution, all hen houses become infested with red mite after the first year (plastic houses to a lesser extent). This causes anaemia, loss of condition, ill health, and early or sudden death, often in the autumn. We are happy to give advice on mite treatment, which is a common cause of health problems in poultry. All products are available on

Outside Range

Chickens are versatile and adaptable and will cope in most environments but will not thrive in a small run. Ideally allow the birds to free-range, either full time or part time. If kept in a run, this should allow at least 10m² of ground space per bird, which is the minimum legal requirement for organic commercial free-range poultry. If the available space is restricted in a small garden or allotment, consider reducing the number of birds kept, consider fencing in vegetable plots instead of the hens, to allow free ranging, enrich the run with covered sand baths, outdoor perches, outside shelters, wind breaks, and areas of hardwood chip to encourage insects & foraging. In an ideal run, 50% of the ground should be covered with foliage or grass, and shelter from rain and sun. A muddy, barren run will cause a multitude of health problems.

Outside space is the single most important requirement for a healthy flock, and good quality eggs. Common health issues associated with poultry kept in small runs, are egg binding, prolapses and egg peritonitis, increased susceptibility to parasites, digestive problems, heart, respiratory, and weight problems. Shortage of space also causes behavioural problems e.g., aggression, feather pecking, vent pecking, and self-harm.

Notwithstanding the above, many chickens we have supplied to small city gardens, have lived a long, healthy and productive life due to sympathetic management, good communication with the keeper and some inventive ideas for improving the environment, to keep the birds busy and interested in their surroundings.


  • Mix new 18 week or older birds with existing hens for two weeks.
  • Mix growers with adult hens before 18 weeks of age.
  • Mix with other hens showing signs of illness – i.e., watery eyes, sneezing, congestion in the throat or lungs, listlessness, lose or abnormal droppings.
  • Mix with ex-commercial rescue hens, or birds which have shown signs of mycoplasma, or bronchitis now or in the past.
  • Mix ages of growing birds under 18 weeks of age (all growers must be the same age within three days).
  • Mix growers from different sources.
  • Keep with waterfowl.
  • Close ventilation slots or windows in the hen house, except in extreme weather.
  • Keep in a small run – hens need space to roam, forage, and exercise, to remain mentally and physically healthy.
  • Keep in the proximity of a pond or bird table.
  • Feed oyster shell under 18-20 weeks (can cause kidney damage), or bread, fat, or any starchy food.
  • Avocado Pear, rhubarb leaves, potatoe or dairy products. Only give healthy poultry-friendly treats.
  • Place a small run on mossy ground or freshly cut grass. This can cause compacted crop.

First Week In The New Home

  • Any sudden change of environment causes considerable stress in hens, which can trigger feather pecking or other behavioural problems, making the birds vulnerable to infection. Careful, quiet handling, with no sudden shocks, noises, or bright light, will help reduce stress; but ask for advice if aggressive behaviour continues for more than a short period, because it can rapidly lead to serious illness, and is difficult to correct if left un-checked.
  • Your birds have come from a quiet, dimly lit rearing house, and are not used to the outside world. At first, they will be shy and reluctant to venture outside, particularly in bright sunny weather, due to their sensitive eyesight. They will come out when ready, and this may take several days, depending on the local environment. They must not be rushed. Food and water should be close at hand – inside the house initially if necessary.
  • New pullets can be let out into the garden after three days, or a larger fenced area, after two days. Keeping them confined for too long will cause stress related problems.

Winter pullets

For winter pullets, extra precautions are needed to maintain growth and prevent the birds from getting cold. Sardines or Tuna provide good high protein daily treats to help maintain growth.  As your birds have come from an insulated rearing house at a constant 15°C., protection from wind and rain is essential. A tarpaulin over the hen house helps with insulation. If you are keeping them contained due to the avian flu, deep straw to forage in and a covered sand bath offer good stress relief and helps to keep them busy and warm. A dark cover over the run reduces stress levels with dim lighting.


Our birds are vaccinated against Mareks Disease and Coccidiosis and receive regular treatment with Aviguard (retail name – Beryl’s) before 12 weeks of age. For ongoing protection if required, we advise treatment with Beryl’s Friendly Bacteria available on the website – Beryl’s provides protection against a range of poultry infections including the Salmonellas, E. coli and Clostridium Perfringens.

A full commercial vaccination programme is unnecessary for garden hens or small flocks, and we do not recommend mixing our birds with hens from poultry dealers, who use surplus commercial birds which have received a full commercial vaccination programme, as some of these can be carriers.


Poultry purchased from bird auctions and sales pose a disease risk and we do not recommend adding our birds to these flocks.

Mixed breed flocks

The popular trend of purchasing single hens of different breeds from different sources is bad practice and a common cause of disease and stress related problems.

Mixed ages

Mixing hens of different ages and from different sources without appropriate quarantine facilities in place, is a common cause of health problems.

Poultry health products

A range of good quality poultry health products, including our own unique brands, are available on