How quickly 12 months pass when you're having so much fun! It seems like yesterday that our wonderful brood of hens arrived and they've been entertaining and productive in equal measure.
Personalities have emerged and additional security has been gradually added to the coup to combat the more adventurous inclinations that a few of the ladies display. According to Lizzie, our Hen-keeper in Chief, the nosiest characters are the white-feathered ones. Always loitering and getting under feet, they want to be in on everything that goes on.
Aside from their regular feed, the hens love a variety of treats, especially greens and surprisingly melon! Sweetcorn is another staple, and was frozen into ice cubes to help them keep cool over the unusually hot Summer. Lizzie has expanded her knowledge with extensive research and some invaluable learning with the British Hen Welfare Trust, who run a popular course in conjunction with Nottingham University.
Thousands of households across the country now keep hens as pets, as well as for their eggs, and they make great companions if you're a fan of spending time pottering in your garden. If it's the eggs that you're most interested in, collecting and consuming them at home is as easy as fetching them from the coup, but here at the hotel we've had be more rigorous in order to serve them to our guests. After an extensive inspection we were issued with an egg producer code, and began grading every egg that was destined for the kitchen. Lizzie examines each one with a special light that allows her to check the yolk, and then stamps it it.
It didn't take long for the hens to start laying daily, and during the most comfortable weather in the late Spring and early Summer they were producing 220-240 eggs per week - more than enough the ensure that our weekend guests were enjoying them poached, scrambled or fried at breakfast time. We hope to expand the coup and welcome another dozen hens next year so that more of our guests can enjoy Rufflets' own eggs!