Welcome to our hobby site. Created over the last 7 years, we have over 600 articles from numerous contributors and many useful resources for the hobbyist interested in keeping chickens, ducks, geese, quail, Guinea fowl or turkeys. Whether you are a beginner or have been keeping backyard chickens all of your life, you will find something of interest here! Don’t forget you can subscribe (see right!) to receive a digest of new articles at the end of each month by email (sorry, due to my workload and a shortage of new articles, the digest is on hold for now).
Bird Flu update
With the beginning of the migration season, there have been a number of outbreaks of H5N8 or Bird Flu across Europe. We all have a responsibility to prevent our birds from becoming sick and to stop or at least limit the spread of this devastating disease.
A prevention zone has been imposed across the UK for 30 days and guidance has been published (which, is very clear and easy to understand). This means that by law we must take certain measures:
“Poultry keepers in England, Scotland and Wales are now required to keep chickens, hens, ducks and turkeys housed indoors where practicable, or keep them separate from wild birds. For farmed geese, gamebirds and other captive birds where housing is less practicable, keepers must take steps to keep them separate from wild birds.
In particular, you must:
- always practice good biosecurity.
- keep a close watch on your birds – monitor them frequently.
- review and assess the risk of disease to your birds with your vet.
- plan how you will manage any free-range birds when there is a need to protect them from wild birds.
- feed and water birds indoors, where possible, to reduce mixing between your birds and wild birds.”
As I travel around the countryside with my day job, I see many birds still out in gardens and fields. If you are one of those people, take a look at this Google Map at the spread of H5N8 and think about the consequences carefully…
The biggest opposition people have in keeping their birds inside is their welfare, but if there is an outbreak ‘locally’, hundreds of thousands of birds could be killed.
A covered run is a good option to prevent access by wild birds. If you want a really fast solution, these walk in runs from Omlet look great. They also have an anti-dig ‘skirt’ to stop foxes. A roof cover is required because it stops droppings from wild birds from entering.
I wish you all seasons greetings and let’s hope 2017 will see bird flu on the decline wherever you are in the world.
Here are some article suggestions for the winter. You can also Tweet to @poultrykeeper and use the hashtag #pktips for seasonal poultry tips!
8 Tips for Keeping Chickens Over Winter
Here are some tips to help you get your chickens through the winter without any mishaps.
Light for Laying Chickens
How to use artificial lighting if you want to get your chickens laying early.
Preparing for the Breeding Season
Jeremy Hobson suggests some ways of preparing for and ensuring healthy, early, chicks from your breeding stock.
Winter Care of Bantam Ducks
Higgins Rat Ranch Conservation Farm is in Alberta, Canada where winter temperatures can drop to -45C. Specialist care is of course required!
New to Keeping Chickens?
If you are new to the wonderful (and productive) hobby of keeping backyard chickens or just thinking about getting started then you have certainly come to the right place!
Here are some suggestions for the newcomer:
Cheap Chicken Coops
The results of my Cheap Chicken Coop Challenge: All Coops listed here are under £200 and from some reputable suppliers.
Looking After Chickens - 10 Easy Steps...
Here are 10 Easy Steps for beginners to get started with the wonderful hobby of keeping backyard chickens!
What is the Best Bedding Material for Poultry?
What are the best bedding materials for chickens? Here is some information on the different kinds of bedding material.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is packed with a cocktail of vitamins, minerals & trace elements which are believed to benefit chickens.
What Size Run Should I give my Chickens?
A chicken run is your next biggest investment to the chicken coop. There are two popular options to consider.
Click here for more article suggestions to help beginners.
Keeping Ducks & Geese
Contrary to popular belief, domestic ducks and geese do not need a pond (they only spend 10% of their time on water) so a plastic tub refilled daily is sufficient for them to be content.
Geese are useful for keeping grass short and alerting you to unwanted visitors but ducks really are the ultimate environmental slug control on any vegetable patch!
Here is a taster of what we have in our sections on ducks and geese:
The Beginner's Guide to Keeping Geese
The beginner's guide to keeping geese has everything you need to know to get started with geese.
The Beginner's Guide to Keeping Ducks
This beginners guide has everything you need to know to get started with ducks.
Domestic poultry breeds come from a standard that tell us how a breed should look. In the UK we have the British Poultry Standards and the British Waterfowl Standards. There are other standards around the World though – the European Standard, American Standard of Perfection and Australian Poultry Standard.
If you are considering which breed to keep, want to learn more about the breeds or just browse through some photos then our breed pages should help:
|Chicken Breeds||Duck Breeds||Goose Breeds|
Poultry For Sale
Our database of poultry for sale lists over 300 breeders in the UK and Ireland. A map also helps you to locate breeders nearby.
Entry to our breeders database is free so if you breed and sell poultry on a small-scale, you can be included.
If you’d like to meet some like-minded people and pick up some tips whilst seeing some of the best birds in town, then there’s no better place to go than a poultry show. Here are the latest show reports and photos we have received. If you have a show report, results or a few photos then please get in touch with me.
Northampton Spring Show 2016
Results and Photos from the Northampton & District Poultry Club Show 2016
Poultry Diseases & Disorders
Sadly poultry do get ill from time to time, so in our poultry diseases and disorders section we have a number of articles to help you learn about potential problems you might face and have included a large sub-section on a very common problem: red mite.
Garlic For Chickens
Chicken keepers have given raw garlic to hens for decades, to help them treat infection and to ward off red mite.
Antibiotic Use in Back Yard Poultry
Antibiotics are a common treatment given to poultry on prescription but are they really safe, even with a withdrawal period?
Poultry vet Richard Jackson tells us about common Respiratory Diseases we find in our backyard chickens.
Flubenvet For Worming Chickens
Information on how to use Flubenvet 1% 60g packs for worming chickens with recommendations of where to buy it online.
Soft, Thin or Missing Egg Shells
Information about the causes of soft, thin or missing egg shells that are sometimes laid by chickens.
If your birds fall ill, I would recommend you contact a vet that specialises in poultry. Our Poultry Vets Database (UK and Ireland) is a good starting point to find one in your area.