Guy Who Lost His Job In Lockdown Started Chicken Farm And Hasn’t Looked Back

Niamh Shackleton


Guy Who Lost His Job In Lockdown Started Chicken Farm And Hasn't Looked BackSupplied/Cheyney’s Pastured Poultry

The pandemic has seen millions of people across the globe lose their jobs.

Max Dudley was one of them. However, rather than seeing it as a negative, he used the pandemic as an opportunity to make a career U-turn and pursue his passion – chicken farming.


Prior to the outbreak of coronavirus, 30-year-old Max was living in London, working as a fabricator and building furniture. When the pandemic struck, Max found his job up in the air and was forced to move out of the city, as he could no longer afford his rent.

Max moved back to his home town of Hertfordshire and, rather than feeling down about losing his job, he started planning his next venture – chicken farming.


But why chicken farming, I hear you ask? Well, Max told UNILAD that he always had a passion for the unique career, and while farming isn’t in his family, he grew up around the food industry.


Max explained:

My grandad started a company in export and import of food, so I grew up with my father and uncle working for that business and around others talking about it too. So, I became interested in farming and food for that reason.

In my twenties I worked for the family business for a while, but I’ve always been a more hands-on person rather than sat in an office, so decided to pursue something else. After being there for three years, I went to New Zealand in 2018 to study permaculture [the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient].

While Max didn’t initially use his permaculture studies upon his return to the UK, he’s now putting it to good use by creating his very own chicken farm.

However, Max initially didn’t have any of his own land to put the chickens on so, describing his new business as ‘literally starting with hope and prayer’, he reached out to local farmers in a bid to get some land of his own.

Cheyney’s Pastured Poultry

Max said, ‘Because I don’t have any ground, I just took a five mile radius of where I was living in Berkhamsted, I had my business model to begin with – which was delivering free range eggs – and I marked the map with where there were farms in this 5 mile radius. I found 50 farms and handed out letters to those farms asking for their help, and fortunately Lee and Steve from Hill Farm got back to me and offered me to put some chickens on their land’.

He continued:

I literally started with hope and prayer, really. I called a few farmers, knocked on the door, and didn’t have any luck. So I thought of writing a letter explaining my circumstances to see if it attracted any interest – which is when Steve and Lee came in. I’m lucky to have met them as they’re very forward thinking. […] It’s not the easiest pathway.


Several months on, Max is now the proud owner of a couple of hundred chickens, who he describes as being like his children.

While he hasn’t really named any of the chickens personally, his mum and girlfriend have named one Dora the Explorer, as she apparently has a habit of ‘always getting out and wandering around’.


Max now delivers eggs all over his local community – people can either chose to have a one-off delivery, or can sign up to Max’s subscription service.


As well as being passionate about chicken farming in general, Max wants to farm sustainably in a bid to create more topsoil, something he describes as one of the ‘most valuable things’.

He explained, ‘Things like monocultures and using fertilizers and pesticides have been serving us in a globalised world and being sold all over the world in huge numbers but, while this may be good for the food industry on the surface, environmentally it’s not what you see in nature.’

You can find out more about Max’s business here.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Topics: Featured, jobs, Life, Pandemic, UK

Niamh Shackleton

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