RAINY Williamson believes her novel “hen-nel” chicken-care service can provide heaven-sent holiday relief for fellow smallholders.

The 45-year-old Ainsworth mother-of-two has just started accommodating guest hens at her own Bury Old Road one-acre plot, the little lancashire small-holding.

She said: “I had been thinking about it for a couple of years.

“We have had chickens for about 12 years, and it makes going on holiday difficult. You can’t even go away for the weekend.

“Chickens are not easy creatures to cater for in the right way. They have to be put out first thing in the morning, and put will put themselves to bed whenever it goes dark, which at the moment is before 5pm.

“But in the summer, that can be at about 10.30pm. If it is not dark chickens will not go to bed.

“In general, free range chickens don’t lay many eggs in winter because the laying process is triggered by sunlight.”

Mrs Williamson, who also keeps ducks and two sheep to keep her grass down, is aiming to accommodate up to a maximum of 50 hens in fox-proof self-contained runs, which will prevent the transfer of any illnesses.

She believes there will a big demand for the service because there has been a rise in the number of people keeping hens in the urban environment.

“Lots of people keep a couple of chickens in towns and cities,” she said. “This is because people have rescued or bought ex-battery hens.

“I have now got my first booking for February, when I will be housing eight chickens from Wigan, where I know there is hen rescue centre.

“Already news of my new venture is spreading by word of mouth among the community of smallholders. It’s a bit like a kennels concept for dogs, but the chickens will be free to roam in the spacious runs.”

Former Coney Green High School, Radcliffe, pupil Mrs Williamson and her solicitior husband, Andy, also aged 45, moved into their home — believed to be more than 200 years old — the day after they married 13 years ago.

“We wanted open fires and room for chickens,” she said. “We got our first chickens a few weeks after I had my first son Benjamin, who is now aged 12.”

Anyone interested in Mrs Williamson’s service can contact her on 07788 918024 or at thelittlelancashiresmallholding.co.uk