What is the most popular dog breed in the UK?

what is the most popular breed of dog in the UK

Based on Kennel Club registrations, the most popular breed of dog in the UK has consistently been the Labrador Retriever. In the current year, nearly 40,000 were registered! This breed is favoured for its friendly, outgoing nature and versatility. Labradors are known for their intelligence, gentle temperament, and ease of training, making them excellent family pets, service dogs, and working dogs.

Reasons for Popularity:

  1. Friendly and Sociable: Labradors are known for their friendly and sociable nature, making them great companions for families with children and other pets.
  2. Intelligent and Trainable: They are highly intelligent and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train for various tasks and commands.
  3. Versatile: Labradors are used in a variety of roles, including as guide dogs for the visually impaired, therapy dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs.
  4. Good Temperament: Their even temper and patience make them suitable for a range of households and lifestyles.
  5. Active and Energetic: Labradors have a lot of energy and enjoy activities such as running, playing fetch, and swimming, making them ideal for active families.

Do you have a Labrador? Do you agree that they make the best breed for a family pet?

What is the best food for chickens?

chicken food

Choosing the right feed for your chickens is essential for ensuring their health. Firstly, you need to consider the age of your chickens and what chicken food is appropriate for their life stage: 

Chick Starter Feed / Chick Crumb:

This should be given from day one up to around 6-8 weeks of age. It is high in protein (18-20%) to support rapid growth. Chick crumb is as it sounds, a crumble like texture to make it easy for small beaks to peck. At this stage, typical pellets would be too large for them to consume.  If your chicks are just eating chick crumb they will not need any grit at this stage as the feed is easy to digest. 

    Grower Feed:

    After the initial 6-8 weeks, you can transition to grower feed, which has slightly less protein (around 15-18%) but is still balanced for growing birds. This is usually fed until they are about 18 weeks old. Growers pellets tend to be slightly smaller than typical layers pellets. When your growers start foraging this is the time to introduce grit to help them break down grasses, seeds and herbage etc. It is important to offer only insoluble grit, sometimes called ‘chick grit’ as it is in small granules to suit their size. At this age they should not have mixed grit products as they do not need the extra calcium from oyster shell, and too much calcium could actually harm them. 

      Layer Feed:

      Once the chicks reach around 18-20 weeks of age and are close to laying age, you can transition them to layer feed. Layers feed has higher levels of minerals, including calcium for egg laying, and slightly less protein – usually 16 – 18%. Layers feed can be in the form of pellets, crumb or mash and the choice is your personal preference. Pellets tend to be less messy to feed, with less waste.  From 18 – 24 weeks your hens will be ‘point of lay’ and at this stage they will benefit from a mixed grit product such as Gastro Grit. Gastro Grit provides insoluble grit to aid digestion, along with oyster shells for calcium. There are also lots of other ingredients included to support the health of laying hens. 

        Providing the right feed at each stage of development is crucial for the health and well-being of your chickens. As your chicks transition from one stage to the next, make changes to to their diet gradually. As you move from chick crumb to growers pellets for example, allow about a week to gradually mix in the growers pellets to the chick crumb so they can adjust to their new feed. 

          Always ensure they have access to fresh water and feed appropriate for their age.

          Can Chicks have layers feed? What is the best feed for chicks?

          what feed is best for chicks.

          Chicks should not be fed layers pellets because these pellets are formulated specifically for laying hens and contain high levels of calcium, which can be harmful to young chicks. Instead, chicks require a specially formulated chick starter feed that has the appropriate balance of nutrients necessary for their growth and development.

          Key reasons why chicks should not eat layer pellets:

          1. Calcium Levels: Layers pellets have high calcium levels to support eggshell production in laying hens. Excessive calcium can cause kidney damage and other health issues in chicks.
          2. Protein Content: Chicks need a higher protein content for growth compared to what is found in layers pellets. Chick starter feed (Chick Crumb) typically contains around 18-20% protein, while layer pellets usually have around 16-18%.
          3. Nutritional Balance: Chick starter feed is specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of growing chicks, providing the right balance of vitamins and minerals.

          Recommended Feed Types for Chicks:

          1. Chick Starter Feed / Chick Crumb: This should be given from day one up to around 6-8 weeks of age. It is high in protein (18-20%) to support rapid growth.
          2. Grower Feed: After the initial 6-8 weeks, you can transition to grower feed, which has slightly less protein (around 15-18%) but is still balanced for growing birds. This is usually fed until they are about 18 weeks old.
          3. Layers Feed: Once the chicks reach around 18-20 weeks of age and are close to laying age, you can transition them to layers pellets or mash.

          Providing the right feed at each stage of development is crucial for the health and well-being of your chickens. Always ensure they have access to fresh water and feed appropriate for their age.

          New Defra Chicken Registration

          defra chicken registration

          You must register your flock by the Autumn!

          Have you seen the new Defra legislation requiring all chicken keepers to register their flocks? The new laws come into force on the 1st September for Scotland, and the 1st October for England.

          We have filled out the form for our flock, and here are a few things we have learnt:

          1 – It is confusing at first because there are two options – Compulsory for those who keep more than 50 birds, and Voluntary for those who keep less than 50. If you register your garden flock before 1st October, you need to choose the ‘voluntary’ option – even though it will soon be compulsory! This threw me at first.

          2 – If you just have a few hens that you keep at home in your own garden as pets the form is pretty quick and simple to fill out. It starts to get complicated if you don’t own the land, if you keep chickens in more than one place, and if you look after the chickens but don’t actually own them… Names and addresses of all the owners and locations need to be completed. Also, if you keep some birds for meat or breeding to sell there are more boxes to tick. But if it is just you, at home with a few hens kept as pets it is pretty simple.

          3 – Once you have completed the form, you have to either print it and post it to Defra, or scan it in and email it. This is a bit of a nuisance as it would be so much quicker if it could be submitted direct!

          Like it or loath it, this is something that ALL poultry and bird keepers are required to do – in fact, all birds that have access to the outside, including birds of prey, ostriches, peacocks, ducks, etc…

          Learn More:

          To find the registration form and learn more, here is a link to Defra

          Feeding and Care Tips for Pet Chickens

          feeding and care of pet chickens

          Chickens make great pets, and like all animals they need the correct care to thrive.

          Setting Up the Coop

          When setting up a coop for your pet chickens, it’s important to provide them with a safe and comfortable living space. Make sure the coop is secure and protected from predators. It should also have enough room for your chickens to move around freely and roost comfortably. Nest boxes for your hens to lay their eggs in can be incorporated into the coop or provided separately. Ensure there is adequate ventilation for good air circulation and prevent the build-up of moisture. It is a good idea to raise the coop off the ground to deter vermin. Lastly, use suitable bedding material such as hemp, chopped straw or wood shavings and clean out regularly to keep the coop clean and cozy.

          Feeding Your Pet Chickens

          Feeding your pet chickens a balanced diet is crucial for their health and well-being. A commercial chicken feed, such as layers mash or pellets is specifically formulated for their nutritional needs and should make up the major portion of their diet. Supplementing this with mixed seeds or grains such as Super Seeds or Cheer Up Chicken will add variety, enrichment and provide a more diverse range of natural nutrients. In the UK it is illegal to supplement their diet with kitchen scraps like vegetable peels and leftover cereal. Make sure to provide them with fresh water at all times and avoid feeding them spoiled or mouldy food.

          Providing Water and Grit

          Water is essential for your pet chickens’ hydration and overall health. Make sure they have access to clean and fresh water at all times. You can use a water dispenser specifically designed for chickens or a shallow dish that they can easily drink from. I like to use a container that hooks onto the run as this prevents them from knocking it over and helps to keep the water clean.

          Grit made of small stones and crushed oyster shells, is important for your chickens’ digestion. It helps them grind their food in their gizzard since they don’t have teeth. Insoluble grit helps to break down the food, oyster shells are a source of calcium for egg shell production. Gastro Grit combines both sources in a tasty mix.

          Health and Wellness Checks

          Regular health and wellness checks are essential to ensure the well-being of your pet chickens. Spend time with your chickens and get to know their characters so you can spot if one is behaving unusually, or is feeling unwell. Keep an eye out for any signs of illness or injury, such as changes in behaviour, decreased appetite, or unusual discharge. Inspect their feathers, skin, and eyes for any abnormalities. Check their nails regularly to prevent overgrowth and check their feet for any signs of infection or injury. It’s also important to regularly worm your chickens to treat against internal parasites. In the UK Flubenvet is the only wormer approved for use in chickens.

          Enrichment Activities

          Engaging your pet chickens in enrichment activities is important for their mental and physical stimulation. Provide them with a spacious outdoor area where they can roam, scratch, and dust bathe. Consider introducing perches, ramps, and platforms to encourage natural behaviors like jumping and roosting. You can also provide them with toys or hanging treats to peck at, such as a cabbage or a peck toy filled with seeds. Giving your hens lots of things to keep them occupied will massively improve their quality of life and reduce instances of bullying and feather pecking. If you can allow them to free-range on grass they will love exploring and foraging for bugs and plants, but you must consider their safety from predators.

          Do Chickens Make Good Pets?

          do chickens make good pets

          #NationalLoveYourPetDay 20th February 2024

          We believe that chickens make great pets, and really bring your garden to life. Here are 4 reasons why you should keep chickens…

          They are low maintenance – compared to other pets, chickens are easy to care for and not as demanding as other pets. They need a coop and run with protection from predators so they can be safe during the day and night.  These, combined with good food, fresh water and some basic enrichment like perches and a dust bath, and they will be quite happy even when you can’t be at home all day. You can even get automatic door openers so you don’t even have to get up early at the weekend to let them out! 

          Companionship –  Chickens are more social than you may expect and they learn very quickly to recognise your face and voice. Teaching them to associate your call with the arrival of tasty treats is a great way to bond with them. Just spending time with chickens is naturally calming and a great way to de-stress at the end of the day.

          Chickens are individuals – just like other animals, chickens have their own individual characters. There will always be a bossy hen at the top of the pecking order and some that are more confident and friendly than others. Learning about the individual personalities in your flock makes them fun to be around.  

          Eggs – it goes without saying that having your own sustainable source of fresh eggs is a huge benefit to keeping chickens. If you have children it is a great way to teach them where their food comes from, and how caring for an animal gives its rewards. Everyone knows that happy chickens lay tastier eggs! 

          Chicken Maths is real! – Everyone will tell you that chickens are addictive! You might start with 3, but soon it will be 5…and maybe room for a few more little ones?!..Always choose a larger run and coop than you think you need. The more space they have the better, and if you do decide to add a couple more you can do so.

          As with all animals it is important to understand their basic health needs and the equipment required to look after them properly. For more information check out the Poultry Pack created by 12 British chicken-loving companies.

          New Keepers Poultry Pack

          If you are new to keeping chickens, the Poultry Pack is just what you need! Full of information, samples and discount codes. 12 British companies have got together to form a ‘poultry alliance’. We all share the same values, helping to keep small flocks and pet chickens happy and healthy. The Poultry Pack is available to order via the Nestera website and features the following fabulous companies and products:

          Order your Poultry Pack here

          click on the company names to be taken directly to their websites to learn more.

          Bury Green Poultry is run by Claudia Audley who specialises in chicken keeping consultancy; advising chicken keepers on how to keep their flocks happy and healthy. Claudia has over 25 years’ experience in chicken keeping and offers lots of tips and advice online, please see her website for more info.

          The Little Feed Company: We’ve included a sample of Super Seeds our delicious blend of seeds and cereals to promote condition, good health and glossy feathers. These seeds are really tasty so it is great for taming new chickens too!

          ECOnourish Live Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Calci Worms)
          Pamper & protect your flock whilst stimulating their natural instincts. Scientifically proven to support overall health and wellbeing, reduce stress, improve plumage, and boost gut health and immunity.

          BEC Poultry have included one of the recycled cate cups. These are suited to a wide range of purposes including holding feed, grit and water. Very easy to use and clean. Suitable for Poultry, Game Birds and most small pets.

          Westgate Labs is a family business founded in 1999. The laboratory offers a quick, easy to use, great value postal worm count service that enables poultry keepers to use wormers reponsibly for their flock by minimising worm resistance. Their leaflet includes fascinating photos plus a 20% off code.

          Pet Remedy natural calming, use the wipe when travelling and settling into a new home. Gently wipe on the chicken’s chest or hang nearby.
          Clinically proven blend of valerian, vetiver, basil and clary sage essential oils. 

          Verm X Protect your hen’s intestinal hygiene without using pharmaceuticals. Verm-X® Daily Plus formula uses a blend of herbs and spices to support poultry health naturally, including Astragalus for antiviral properties PLUS Dandelion for improved digestion.

          Nestera is the largest sustainable coop company in the world as all our coops are made from 100% recycled plastic. We have included a hard rubber egg which when placed in your hen’s nestbox, will encourage them to lay in the desired place. All our coops are packed with poultry science with birds welfare first and foremost.

          Libby Syddall is a poultry consultant who specialises in back garden poultry. She supports companies to provide the right products and information for this sector. Libby is a qualified poultry medications advisor as well as a member of the British Veterinary Welfare Association. She has almost 20 years experience with chickens, ducks and turkeys and uses her knowledge to support keepers all over the world.

          Aqueos is a UK Manufacturer of Eco Friendly Disinfectants and a range of First Aid Products

          Allen and Page Smallholder Range: Using only the very finest ingredients, the Smallholder Range provides well-balanced feeds designed for animals being raised more naturally. We pride ourselves on making natural feed without, artificial growth promoters or artificial yolk pigmenters. Our mill is totally drug free – no antibiotics, cocciostats or growth promoters.

          Collins Nets is a family owned and run company and has been for over 35 years. Collins Nets specialise in the manufacture and supply of nets for the Game Rearing, Poultry Keeping, Fisheries & Leisure Sports industries. The polythylene bird netting can be used for a wide range of applications including avian influenza protection, anti predator, laying pens and much more. A full range of associated products are also kept in stock including feeders, drinkers, electric fencing, plastic sheeting and wire netting. 

          Chicken Coops – Plastic vs Wooden

          If you are planning on adding some chickens to your family this Spring, you may be feeling totally overwhelmed about how to house them. There are so many options to go for – purpose built coop, a shed or even a converted wendyhouse or caravan! In this blog we discuss the pros and cons of plastic coops vs wooden.

          Plastic coops are definitely growing in popularity and they make great poultry houses.  But, the wooden are more traditional and arguable nicer to look at in your garden.  

          Here are some points to consider when making your choice:

          Ease of Cleaning – 

          The plastic coop has to be the winner here. You can set the pressure washer on it and it will dry quickly and easily. The wooden coops are much harder to deep clean and may take a couple of days to dry out. For day to day cleaning, it really depends on the design of the coop. Some wooden ones may have better access than plastic versions. 

          Durability – 

          Plastic coops are pretty much maintenance free and will last for many, many years. Your wooden version will need regular care.

          Customisation – 

          Wooden coops are much easier to customize. If you want to move a door, add an egg box, fix on a run etc, this will be way easier to do to a wooden coop rather than plastic. 

           Comfort – 

          In my experience, chickens show no preference to wood or plastic.  With both options it is good to give the choice of a perch or warm bed to sleep on. With both options it is important to consider air flow and ventilation. Plastic coops could get condensation inside if not ventilated.  A good quality wooden coop may be slightly warmer in winter, and watch your plastic coop doesn’t blow over in gale force winds! 

          Red Mites – 

          Here, the plastic coop is a clear winner. If red mite take hold in your wooden coop they can be almost impossible to eliminate. They can work their way into every tiny crevice in the wood, making any sprays & chemicals almost useless. Although mites will find a home in the joints of a plastic coop, they can’t work their way into the plastic itself, so they are much easier to eliminate. Plus, you can can take your plastic coop apart to treat a lot more easily than dismantling a wooden version!

          Price – 

          Plastic chicken coops are not cheap, where as wooden coops are available at all budgets. As with most things you get what you pay for, and investing in a plastic coop rather than a cheap and cheerful wooden version will pay for itself in the end. 

          Avian Flu –

          What ever coop you choose, you also need to consider a run, and how you will protect your chickens during an avian flu housing order. Sadly, these seem to be annual events so it is imperative that you have a spacious, fully enclosed run which can withstand winter rain and maintain a comfortable environment.

          Meet our Brand Ambassador – Charlie


          1 – Tell us about you and where you live…

          I am a student vet nurse, currently training at a busy 24 hour hospital in Surrey.

          I live in a little village Surrey! 

          I have a beautiful clever daughter, an ever growing stepson and wonderfully supportive husband – who used to be a carpenter so is very handy at building the chickens desires! 

          I have a bouncy springer spaniel called Tilly and two cats, Pepper and a stray I brought home from work called Motley! 

          2 – How many chickens do you have?

          I have a rainbow flock of egg layers – getting more crème eggs as chicks from Dorset Diaries soon! 

          I have a breeding set of lavender Pekin bantams 
          I have a breeding set of silver laced pekins

          I have lavender and silver laced eggs in my incubator currently!! 

          3 – How did you get into keeping chickens?

          My parents bought my first 6 chickens for my 11th birthday as a way for my sister and I to earn pocket money by selling the eggs! Little did they know what that would become! 

          4- Any tips for someone thinking of keeping chickens for the first time?

          Always build your chicken house and enclosure bigger than you think you need as chicken maths in inevitable!!

          Build your enclosure as secure from foxes and predators as you possibly can, invest in thicker mesh. 

          Build your enclosure so that you can safely and easily care for your hens over flockdown as they will need to be secured for at least 5 months a year. 

          5 – What is your favourite breed and why?

          I absolutely love bantams, especially Pekins!  What they lack in size they more than make up for in personality! 

          6 – Where can we find you on Social Media?

          I started the chickens social media page so that my poor family would stop being inundated with constant chicken photos and videos! But then I started to meet wonderful like minded people with whom I shared a joint interest. I learnt from them and grew! 

          You can follow me on Instagram @eggs_and_fluff and on facebook Eggs and Fluff

          Meet Our Brand Ambassador – Katrina


          Where do you live?

          We are lucky enough to live in a village just outside of Exeter, Devon not far from where I grew up.   I come from a huge family and have a lot of siblings but at home it’s my husband and I, our two boys Oscar,4, and Ollie,2, our two rescue cocker spaniels – Izzy and Millie and the chooks who are all named after Downton Abbey characters! 

          How many chickens do you have?

          If you ask my husband how many chickens we have he would say too many! Occasionally he does have a point as last summer we had a lot of fun buying in some hatching eggs to hatch under our broodies and ended up with over 20 chicks. In our in our garden that was rather a lot!  We found them all lovely homes and we are now down to 6 Pekin Bantams who I adore.  They are such characters and although at the moment due to flock down I can’t watch them pottering around the garden I have their covered run set up so I can watch them out of the kitchen window! I get a lot of joy from watching them scratching about and they are such gorgeous balls of fluff!

          How did you get into keeping chickens?

          When we were children my mum brought us each a hen so we ended up with a small garden flock.  We went to a local Rare and Heritage breeds chicken breeder and came back with a beautiful selection.  I chose a Salmon Faverolle who I called Muffin because of the feathery muffins on her cheeks. We also had a Welsummer, an Orpington, a Cochin, a Legbar, a random Light Sussex and a Maran.  So, we had some beautiful eggs! From a young age I realised the delight of having a flock of hens and we even tried to teach them some tricks, although we weren’t overly successful! Over the years we also added Call Ducks into the mix and I can’t wait to have a big enough garden for them too! 

          Share your tips for anyone thinking of getting chickens…

          When I started to think about getting our own flock of hens I had to considered the space we had and also knowing that one day they would have to get on well with our children. I am an avid gardener and grow a lot of cut flowers so I didn’t want the garden to be scratched to pieces and destroyed by larger breeds. therefore, I looked at smaller, less destructive birds and this led me to Pekin Bantams and it was love at first sight.  Smaller and more compact than larger breeds but with huge personalities.  Available in a huge range of colours and fluffy feet made them an easy choice.  One of my first hens reminded me of ‘Nursey’ from the Disney film Robin Hood!  

          The second thing to think about is where they will live. Up until last year I had always used a wooden coop but changed to a plastic coop last summer and it has made life so much easier. It is much easier to treat the dreaded Red Mite which is something sadly all poultry keepers have to contend with at some point. Finally, with Flockdowns looking likely to be here for many winters to come, it’s making sure that you have enough space for all your hens all year round.  We had enough space for all our hatched hens in the summer when they could be in the garden all day every day but not when it came to having to keep them under Flockdown restrictions. Roll on Flockdowns being a thing of the past! 

          What is your favourite breed of chicken and why?

          As I’ve already mentioned, I love Pekin Bantams, they are like fluffy little tea pots and so friendly, but I also have a soft spot for Salmon Faverolles, with their gorgeous colour and fluffy faces. 

          Where can we find you on social media?

          I mainly use Instagram because I love the community I have found on there and the people I have connected with.  My page, @petalsandpekins reflects life in my garden and the allotment, the chickens aren’t allowed at the allotment but once flock down lifts they will free range again happily pottering amongst the flowers. Our garden was a paving slab jungle when we brought our house but over the last 5 years I have completely transformed it and in the process I have found a love of growing cut flowers.  It has lead to me growing and arranging the flowers for three of my gorgeous siblings and there are still a potential 4 sibling weddings to go, this year however there isn’t so I can just have fun growing things I love and make me happy. Sitting in the garden, enjoying a coffee in the sunshine. Surrounded by the sight and smell of beautiful flowers with the chickens pottering around or coming up for cuddles is one of my favourite things to do!