Meet our Brand Ambassador!

dorset diaries

Jemma from Dorset Diaries & the Dorset Chicken Co

I’m Jemma and I breed pure and cross-breed chickens on the Dorset/Hampshire border. My husband and I escaped to the country, from London, in 2017 and found ourselves in a house with a chicken coop in the garden. The inevitable happened, I filled it with 6 ex-bats and became well and truly addicted. 

1 – Tell us about you and where you live….

We now share our house with our daughter, Lottie, who is 2 years old. My chief chicken chore helper. Two rescue spaniels, a German Wire-haired Pointer that works with my husband. A cat called Bazil and two ponies (one for Mummy, one for Lottie). As well as keeping chickens we also have two geese, with high hopes that they breed successfully this year and we can have a few more waddling around the place.

 2 – How many chickens do you have? 

My core breeding groups consist of 15 hens and 3 cockerels. I have some spare cockerels and some experimental layers. And then I have my retired breeding girls, who don’t lay regularly enough to produce fertile eggs but enjoy their time scratching around the land paddocks and producing eggs for us to eat and sell. Through winter this equates to about 37 chickens (best to keep this number vague) and during peak breeding season when there are chicks and growers all over the place this can increase to well over 100 birds.

I breed pure breed hens specifically for interesting (rainbow) egg colours. I try to focus on rare breeds where possible, most notably with my group of exchequer leghorns.

I breed crested cream legbars for blue eggs, marans for very dark brown eggs with plenty of speckles and the leghorns produce pure white eggs.

I also cross breed my chicken breeds to create olive egg layers. Hens that carry both the blue and brown laying genetics which give us green eggs of varying shades. From minty green speckled eggs to deep khaki tones.

Breeding for colour is my passion. In 2023 I am expanding my breeding groups to include an exciting new breed that is renown for laying eggs with a pink or purple tinge.

 3 – How did you get into keeping chickens?

We moved to the country in 2017 and the house came with a huge chicken coop and run. And every country house has chickens, so we got some. I was petrified of them, hated their pecky beaks and the way their wings flapped. Then one of them got poorly and needed to be nursed back to health. And that was when I discovered their intoxicating ways. Their gentle eyes and the softness of their feathers. How when you touch them they are like delicate piles of feathers. And from then on the obsession grew.

I started documenting our move to the country on Instagram and found a lot of American homesteader accounts that had the most incredible eggs. Rainbow eggs, of all different shades and colours. I honestly thought all eggs were brown. I wanted eggs like these and really struggled to find somewhere or someone that I could buy hens or hatching eggs from. I wanted a few of each colour, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. So, I bought in lots of different batches of hatching eggs, from lots of different breeders and set about creating my rainbow dream. It took months and months but I did it.

And that’s where The Dorset Chicken Co was born. I decided to specialise in breeding hens for egg colour and provide what I was looking for all those years ago.

 4- Do you have any tips for anyone thinking of getting chickens for the first time?

Get your set up right from the beginning. Build the biggest run your space can accommodate, you will never regret giving your hens too much space. 

Buy or build a coop that’s easy to clean out. One you can easily reach all nooks and crannies. 

Focus on buying hens from a reputable breeder, with good references and focus on the health of your flock. Keep feeders and water drinkers clean and make sure the run is as dry as you can get it and there’s no damp in the coop.

Research common ailments for hens OR make friends with an experienced chicken keeper (I am always happy to answer questions on Instagram)

 5 – What is your favourite breed or favourite chicken and why?

Very hard to answer. Can I pick two?

The orpington, because they are so huge and laid back. Very easy chickens to keep and they are absolutely gorgeous to look at.

The exchequer leghorn, they are so stunning but also have the most amazing and inquisitive personalities. I get sent photos daily of people’s exchequer leghorns they have bought from me or hatched from my eggs getting up to no good. On top of shed and in trees, getting in feed bins, you name it. Such fun pets to have around.

 6 – Where can we find you on social media? 

My main account is @dorset_diaries on instagram and you’ll find lots of rainbow egg inspiration. Beautiful photos of eggs and the chickens that produce them. Lots of daily antics on my stories of our life here in Dorset, heavily featuring my 2 year old and her adventures with her feathered friends. 

I host a Q&A every Saturday where you are able to get all your poultry related questions answered. I try to recommend products I love and find helpful keeping my chickens in top condition. And I share other chickeneny Insta accounts for you to follow too for more inspiration.

We are delighted to be working with Jemma. She has been using our Gastro Grit for several years and her instagram is full of great chicken facts and tips – as well as her beautiful rainbow eggs. Give her a follow!