One Step at a Time - A Tiny Derbyshire Smallholding

Poultry Boarding

Welcome to Chicken & Duck Boarding Holidays at Merrybower Homestead, near Derby in South Derbyshire

We all love a break from the norm, why should our chickens and ducks be no less deserving when we’re off on our hols!

Chicken boarding holidays at Merrybower Homestead in South Derbyshire, near Derby

Emma and Jackie chilling in the Blackberry plot

Here at Merrybower Homestead your chickens and ducks will be camping on fresh grass, on their very own plot. They are surrounded by the South Derbyshire countryside, not far from Derby, and have stunning views of the green fields surrounding us. They will have their own fox-proof run to pootle around in, with their attached coop moved on to fresh grass within their plot as befits the number of chickens or ducks camping in it. Quality Heygates layers pellets for hens and mixed corn for ducks will be provided – it’s what we feed our ladies – unless you would like to bring your own food. Water and grit will also be provided – we’ll add a dash of cider vinegar to the water unless you ask otherwise – it’ll give their tummies a holiday too! No doubt they’ll also get a helping of “Special Mash” on a weekend if they’re around long enough. In the late afternoon we’ll give them their night-time portions of corn, to give their crops something to munch on whilst they snooze, and any eggs they lay we’ll put aside for your return as a welcome home pressie, unless you ask us not to.

The Coops & Houses

For hygiene and security reasons we use plastic coops (Omlet & Green Frog Design) for chicken & duck boarding, all runs have an anti-dig skirt and are a doddle to clean, and keep clean, between visits.

Chicken boarding holidays at Merrybower Homestead in South Derbyshire, near Derby

Pine wood shavings, diatomaceous earth and soft barely straw for nesting


After each visit the houses are cleaned out, jet washed and sprayed with Barrier V1 Insecticidal organic disinfectant, ready for newly arriving guests. The droppings trays are filled with pine wood shavings, and the nest boxes lined with either the same or barley straw – softer and warmer than wheat straw. We sprinkle diatomaceous earth over the wood shavings, which all sits under perches so your ladies’ bottoms won’t come into contact with it. Along with the disinfectant, the coops are also sprayed with Barrier Red Mite concentrate as a preventative – all of Barrier’s products are organic and these won’t affect their eggs in any way, and the coops will smell beautiful! The coops are cleaned out at least once a week, again depending on the state your ladies make. Ducks are more often!

Chicken boarding holidays at Merrybower Homestead in South Derbyshire, near Derby

Your ladies safe within sight – we live and work here too!


The holiday homes are kept separate to our own flocks, in a different part of the smallholding. Your ladies won’t free range, partly for inter-flock hygiene reasons, and also because they are much safer in their own coop and run. We will let them out on to the fresh grass first thing in the morning and put them to bed once they’ve decided it’s time – we know they just can’t be rushed to bed!

Chicken Health

Please do check your pets very carefully before bringing them for their boarding holiday – we are very sorry but out of consideration for all the chickens and ducks to come after them, and our own, we can’t accept poorly birds due to the possibility of cross-contamination. We ask that you treat your chickens with a mite powder and both chickens and ducks with a wormer before their holiday. If you have any particular issues with any of your ladies, please do visit a vet first, to save disappointment on the day if we have to turn them away. Typical problems are respiratory issues, gasping for air, runny noses, lice, mites and signs of scaly leg mite. To save you some hassle, we can worm your animals for you whilst you’re away. It’s a seven day course of Flubenvet given via layers pellets, but if their stay is shorter, we can give you the remainder of the medicated feed to take home with you. A bag suitable for 10 birds will cost £15, this is the smallest quantity we can provide as it would be bought in especially for you.

If one of your ladies becomes ill whilst staying at Merrybower Homestead, we will take her to our vets just two miles away, unless you have specifically asked us not to or you have given us your preferred vet’s details within a 10-mile radius. All vet’s bills will be added to our costs, but we will attempt to keep you informed before doing anything, unless it’s an emergency. If we discover a bird has something that may be contagious whilst staying with us, we reserve the right to consult a vet and/or treat them ourselves and charge accordingly.

Chicken boarding holidays at Merrybower Homestead in South Derbyshire, near Derby

Colin casting his beady eye over Blackberry Coop

Weird Stuff (it Happens!)

If you are delayed and can’t make it back for the agreed time to pick your ladies up, we’ll do our best to keep them comfy, although they may need to change coops if theirs is already booked. If, for some bizarre reason, we never hear from you again, after seven days we will assume you’ve had enough of chicken keeping and we will become their new human slaves!


Omlet Eglu Go – £5 per day (suitable for 2 large hens, 3 medium hens, 4 bantams or 2 medium ducks)
Omlet Eglu Go Up! – £5 per day (suitable for 2 large hens, 3 medium hens, 4 bantams)
Omlet Cube – £6.50 to £9.50 per day (suitable for 4 large hens, 6 medium hens, 8 bantams)
Green Frog Design Arc – £5 to £10 per day dependent on bird numbers, types and sizes (suitable for 4 large hens or 4 ducks)

Each part day is charged at a full day’s rate. We require a 25% deposit when you drop your hens off, we accept cash or cheque as forms of payment.

Booking, Dropping Off & Collection

We can only accept chicken and duck boarding bookings of three nights or more – with each part day being charged at the full day rate. Dropping off times and collection times can be arranged when you book. You can ask for a reservation for each coop using the forms below – you need to choose your dates on the calendar and fill the form out for each coop, so make sure both coops offer the dates you’d like before hitting the good old “Book Apple/Blackberry Coop please!” button. Alternatively, if you’re a bit like us and prefer the telephone, call us on 07941 905796.

When dropping off your chooks, please bring them in a suitable container – either a cardboard box with breathing holes or pet carrier – and we can keep that here for you whilst you’re away. As a guide, a suitable container is one in which a hen can stand up, turn around and sit back down in, and has ventilation on at least two sides, but also in the ceiling. Chickens can’t sweat and will soon overheat in a covered box. If you give us a call before you’re leaving to pick them up, we can have them ready and sat in their boxes for when you arrive.

If you aren’t likely to make the agreed times for dropping off and picking up, please call in advance to make sure someone is around to help you out once you do arrive.

For availability, please call us on 07941 905796