We had ex- battery hens that were only £1-50 each . They were a bit bald and scraggy , but laid beautiful eggs until they got eaten by a fox and were nice and fluffy in a matter of weeks . We now have 2 x Black Rock , 2 x White Sussex , a retired Welsummer ( who occasionally lays beautiful dark brown eggs ) and a hand me down cockerel . With an electric fence round them
An allotment is a very good place to keep chickens as you will be able to grow a ready supply of greens to feed them. We give them over-size courgettes, brussell sprout tops, bolting lettuce etc.
We feed our chickens a diet of layers pellets and they also get a few handfuls of mixed corn each day. They need access to grit as well. Sometimes when I have used a lot of eggs, I feed the egg shells back to them.
Our chickens are in a fixed, but very large, pen and we have used a shed for their coop. Building the walk in run was quite a large job but it keeps them safe and gives them a large area. We have added extra outdoor perches.
Our hens have come from a variety of sources, some from poultry auctions, some from local sellers - look in your local paper. We have chosen different breeds that give us a variety of egg colours. We have Leghorns for white eggs, cream legbars for blue eggs, marans for dark brown eggs to name a few. We have found the Amber link hens particularly friendly.
We use bales of wood shavings from our local farm suppliers in the coop with straw for the nest boxes. We do a full clean once a week, or more frequently if needed. The old bedding goes into the compost bin and makes fantastic compost for the allotment.
We visit the chickens every day, but do not lock them away at night in their coop. They are secure in their fully enclosed run and we have built a porch in front of the coop entrance to protect them from the elements. We check their feed and water daily. We have purchased large galvanised feeders and drinkers and have found these well worth the investment.
The rat population has been persistant this year and we have had to take measures to keep them under control.
We have thoroughly enjoyed keeping chickens, although it can be a big time commitment to visit them daily, particularly when the days are short in the winter. It has probably cost us more than I would like to add up, by the time you factor in the housing/bedding/feeders etc.
We have enlisted the help of a fellow allotment holder, who will see to the chickens on any days we can get up there, in return for as many eggs as he would like!
You can get chickens from loads of different places. I am not on the mainland but I think if you googled chickens and your location you'd probably be able to find someone.
There are loads of different types and sizes, but I'd be tempted to look at the hybrids like sussex stars as they are usually pretty, lay well and often lay colored eggs. If you go for a pure breed, things like Marans are good layers, whereas Pekins etc tend to be a bit naff
Basic care - clean water every day, mash or pelleted food available (either in slightly raised feeders, or you can get feeders they stand on to release the food to discourage rats - I'd be tempted by the second option if you aren't able to pick the food up at night) with daily green bits - either veg waste (mine used to get the peelings of anything not potato) with spoiled veg too, or out to roam. I also gave mine constant access to bird grit which helps keep egg shells solid.
Weekly mine used to get a handful of meal worms scattered about, and on one memorable occasion, a packet of live grasshoppers which was hilarious but chaos
I have an eglu, currently empty but will be re-filled!, - I had newspaper on the base with bedding on top (I have aubiose I think it is) and tended to tip the lot on the compost twice a week or so. I also added Bokashi to their pellets which helps speed up the composting of their poo. I used a bucket and soapy water to scrub any mucky bits which takes minutes but I can't speak for a wooden house
Worming. I think you are supposed to use Flubenvet once or twice a year and I think is the only licensed in feed wormer for chickens - you add the dose to their food, but you can also add Apple Cider Vinegar to their water daily which helps keep them healthy, and there is a product called Verm-Ex which is more herbally and I think is given for a couple of days a month. You can eat the eggs on Verm-Ex whereas Flubenvet needs them to be discarded for 3 (might be 5?) days, and you can use both together. I would worm the chickens when you first get them with Flubenvet if they haven't been done where they are bought from, along with mite treatment, then repeated as recommended by Flubenvet (I plan to use Verm-X too)