Squires garden centre joins Notcutts in selling live chickens

Squires garden centre at Badshot Lea in Surrey has installed a chicken house to sell live poultry and coops.

Marketing director Sarah Squire said: "The purchase of any pet has to be considered very carefully. However, as a chicken keeper myself I am very excited about this. We have found our chickens easy to keep and a great introduction to the responsibility of keeping animals for our children; with the added attraction of delicious eggs."

Chickens appeared at Chelsea Flower Show for the first time last year on Notcutts' stand.

Notcutts representative Sally Reed said: "We have sold chickens for some time but were starting to see a huge growth in sale with thousands of pounds worth of chickens and associated products being sold last year."

Online chicken coop retailer Omlet co-founder Johannes Paul says chickens in back gardens are taking off, with sales having doubled in 2008. His Warrington-based business has now sold 20,000 Eglu coops since the company began in 2004.

Paul said business was cracking along because of food concerns and celebrity chefs backing free-range eggs and condemning battery farms.

"There's been years of food scares and people are more and more concerned about what they're eating. The most natural way to find out exactly what you're eating is by doing it yourself. Plus, chickens make great pets. Families get them for that firstly and the eggs are a bonus.

"Definitely, when you get Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall supporting the idea of grow your own and self-sufficiency.

"People always wanted to do this but didn't know how, especially in towns and cities and now it's much easier to find out."

Meanwhile, Northamptonshire-based Bell Plantation Garden Centre owner Ashley Warren is planning a major redevelopment of his garden centre, with a large rare breed chicken centre. He reported sales of over £100,000 last year in chickens and associated products.


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