One of the largest rare breeds poultry sales ever in the UK is set for the beginning of September, with thousands of birds, hundreds of poultry houses and an array of drinkers, feeders, incubators and hatchers on sale.
The Wernlas Collection which has bred and sold rare breed chickens for more than 25 years from its Shropshire base, is being broken up as its founders have decided to retire.
Shaun Hammon has run the collection with his wife Sue since they met through a classified advertisement in Farmers Weekly in 1987. He says deciding to sell up was a hard decision, but a necessary one.
“Although sometimes I don’t feel it, I’m 72 in November so it’s one of those things,” said Mr Hammon. “We’ve built up a cliental all across the UK, we’ve had eggs go to the Falkland Islands, the Shetlands and Orkneys.
“We also get people who come here and buy eggs from us and we ask for their address and we discover they are going to South Africa, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Holland. It’s staggering.”
Since its establishment in 1986 The Wernlas Collection has grown to produce about 15,000 chicks every year supplying breeders, poultry fanciers, backyard and small flock producers, as well as universities and research institutions.
“We’ve supplied the Roslin Institute, as well as a lot of other research places to study different aspects of poultry genetics,” said Mr Hammon.
As well as being featured in Countryfile, BBC Midlands Today, Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast and in national newspapers, their rare breed birds have also been immortalised as the mascot for a condom brand.
“This photographer came and took hundreds of pictures of different breeds of chicken for this contract he had with Mates Condoms and in the end he won a big advertising award in Sweden,” said Mr Hammon.
More than 500 breeding stock from 60 different breeds will be sold in trios, with the opportunity to purchase additional females, plus more than 1,800 youngsters from off-heat to point-of-lay, and stock cockerels.