It’s time to get cracking

You may have read our shocking story last week about how the enforcement of new welfare regulations for chickens was threatening to cause a national shortage of eggs just before Pesach.

I can report that I visited the supermarket with some trepidation last weekend only to see rows and rows of eggs - from free range to organic to Omega 3.

However, I am still going to write a column about the threatened egg drought (mainly because it gives me the opportunity to do loads of egg and chicken puns).

Although the crisis seems to be overstated, there have been reports that organised crime could be moving in (although I have yet to see any evidence of egg poachers in Finchley). So this could be the time to join what is become a growing pastime for keeping hens.

These days we prefer hydrangeas to hens

Whether it is due to rising prices or animal welfare, there is a trend for people to keep their own chickens. The urban hen is becoming progressively more common in our cities - there are more than 200,000 chicken keepers registered in the UK and probably far more (you need to inform Defra if you have a flock of over 50; if you don't, you will be up before the beak).

Of course, back in the shtetl just about every Jewish family would have a few chickens scratching about in the yard, but according to my research, very few Jews are installing coops in their gardens - it seems these days we prefer hydrangeas to hens.

I'm as fond of the chicks as the next guy and I've been considering getting my own mini flock but so far I haven't cracked. For a start I don't seem to have that atavistic chicken-rearing impulse - I wouldn't even know whether to start off with a chicken or an egg. There is also the minor fact that I don't have a garden and I'm not sure whether it is feasible to keep hens in a window box. Plus, there's the problem of the fowl smell.

However, if there is to be a run on chickens, we really need to get cracking as there are signs already that the chicken stock is reducing. And if my neighbours are going to be producing, beautiful fresh eggs for their breakfast, I'm bound to be henvious.

As a community, we stand only to gain. We will be producing eggs with a low carbon claw-print - really, a feather in our caps. The cost of producing eggs is literally chicken feed and there are no batteries required. It will also be educational for children to play with an egg box instead of an X-Box.

And of course if we don't take hasty action we could all end up with egg on our faces. The timer is running and we have only weeks before the beginning of Pesach.

So don't tread on eggshells, I'm egging you on to do something. Because let's face it, should the situation continue to deteriorate, will be forced to call in the soldiers.

Last updated: 11:45am, March 23 2012