My name is Penny Roberts, and I’m the founder of Henny Penny Hen Houses.
I live on a farm in Yorkshire, just a handful of miles from one of the UK's most beautiful areas, the North York Moors National Park.
Although I originally trained as a designer and have had a long career in telecommunications, I’m completely mad about chickens!. In particular I’m passionate about rescuing ex-battery chickens, so that they can finally get the chance to live a lovely, natural life away from the terrible conditions most battery hens experience.
And how did this professional career transition come about? Well, by accident of course. In 2010 I received a hen coop as a family Christmas present from my Mum. It arrived as a huge flatpack with some badly photocopied instructions. Eventually we (I had to enlist the help of my husband!) managed to identify the anonymous planks of wood and spent two whole days putting it together.
Even though the gift was quite expensive, the timber was of of poor quality and it just wasn’t very big. The coop was advertised as being suitable for four hens, but the run that came with it was very small so we had to order a second run. When it arrived my husband had to adapt it because it wasn’t designed to work as an extension. We had to buy some metal catches to connect the runs together, and then to connect it to the hen coop, as well put a lock on the nesting box lid to keep foxes and badgers out. I began to notice a distinct decline in my husband’s enthusiasm for poultry related DIY.
As we were in the midst of the most severe winter for over 30 years, and with the softwood never having been treated, I had to apply an appropriate preserverative in order to prevent my new coop from turning to a mushy pulp within a few months.
When it was eventually safe for use we adopted 4 chickens from the British Hen Welfare Trust. The girls seemed quite happy in their new little home but I couldn't help thinking of further improvements to the coop in order to make life a little easier for both me and the girls.
That's when I started to make a list of all the ideal features for my ‘perfect’ hen house.
I wanted to design light and spacious poultry housing which would be practical and look charming and attractive in any garden. My wish list also included a design that would be easy to clean out and easy to move. Above all else, the build quality and materials used had to be of the very highest standard, so much so that they would last for many, many years.
On 1st March 2012 my very first Henny Penny Hen House was completed. Built to my exacting standards (nothing’s too much for my girls!), it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. My young son Charlie agreed, and lost no time in re-housing our girls from the old coop to the new Henny Penny Hen House. He absolutely adores ‘his girls’ as they are now known. And being such characters they really do make a great addition to the family.
With the design registered we set about creating a range of different Henny Penny Hen Houses and related products, all true to our core values of:
Every Henny Penny Hen House product is individually hand-built by craftsmen here in North Yorkshire. In fact each one has a unique build number which is displayed on a Henny Penny plaque on the outside - and I wouldn’t put my name on it if I wasn’t 100% satisfied! But most of all I’m delighted to see rescue chickens can be housed in such a wonderful home, that they can live the rest of their lives in a comfortable, stress-free environment.
And don’t forget...happy hens lay delicious eggs!