Welcome to Poultry Keeper
A hobby website for backyard poultry enthusiasts
Hello and welcome to our hobby website, run by a small group of enthusiasts and lead by me, Tim Daniels from my smallholding in the Black Mountains, Herefordshire, UK.
Poultry Keeper is 13 years old, and our aim has always been quite simply to provide the best source of information available anywhere online for backyard poultry enthusiasts. We constantly update and improve 500+ articles and guides, plus add new material when time allows.
It’s fair to say that it has been a difficult time for everyone with the pandemic, but I hope we will see some degree of normality returning to our lives going forwards. We have welcomed many newcomers to backyard poultry keeping during the pandemic, so I hope this website can be part of inspiring these people with our hobby.
Summer is officially here, and with the longer days, our birds are laying well, and the breeding season is well underway. I have youngsters in every house and run I have available at the moment!
The summer brings with it a few new challenges. Broody hens that won’t quit, red mite infestation in chicken coops and predators like foxes feeding their young at this time of year and may try to take our birds. I have gathered some articles that might be useful over the summer months that you might need below.
Summer in Focus
After the delights of hatching chicks through the spring, the work of rearing these youngsters starts to consume more and more time. Every available coop and run is pressed into service! So I like to power down the incubator for a few weeks and take a pause, looking at what we have and revisiting my goals.
There are several things to do and look out for; here are my bookmarks for the summer.
I have introduced a new Cream Legbar bloodline this year and look forward to seeing the resulting chicks from the two breeding pens when they get their adult plumage. I also hatched a small batch of Cuckoo Marans and Abacot Ranger ducks. It’s a busy time for everyone who has young poultry to look after!
I have tested the ChickenGuard automatic chicken coop door over the last year and have been so impressed that I recently upgraded all of my chicken houses to use the same unit just for peace of mind!
You can see it in action in my ChickenGuard Automatic Chicken Door article.
I am still testing some incubators for a review next spring, it has turned into quite a large project that has taken over most of my garage!
There are a few new articles in the pipeline too, so be sure to come back again soon 🙂
Quail can be very productive, so they are ideal for people with small back gardens, unsuitable for chickens. This guide answers questions you may have about starting to keep quail.
Mr Fox has to be every poultry keeper’s number one enemy. Sadly, many people have lost their chickens or other poultry to a fox. When it happens, it can be devastating.
This in-depth guide will tell you everything you need to know about red mite, how to identify them and more importantly, how to control them.
The ChickenGuard is one of the latest automatic chicken door opener/closers. In this Equipment Focus, I test the Chicken Guard Premium model on one of my chicken coop doors.
I have been giving Apple Cider Vinegar to my chickens for many years, and combined with good husbandry, I have seen a positive difference in my flock’s health.
Zoe Brodie-James investigates the ethics and law of releasing domestic ducks into the wild on the local pond and finds some sad and sometimes illegal scenarios that go on there.
Hatching and raising poultry
A step-by-step guide to hatching eggs with a broody hen. Selecting the right breed and setting up a broody coop for her to incubate fertile eggs.
Raising chicks that were hatched in an incubator. How to set up a brooder and heat lamp or panel to care for chicks hatched at home in easy steps.
Feeding chicks when there is no broody hen to take care of them and what you can feed in an emergency if you run out of chick crumbs.
How to care for a broody hen raising chicks. Tips for rearing chicks with a broody hen and providing broody hen care.
Raising ducklings at home is relatively straightforward. They are more tolerant to disease and with the right equipment, are easier to brood than chicks; however,
A popular question from people incubating and hatching eggs is how to sex chicks? – how can you tell if they are male or female? Sexing chicks while young isn’t easy, but as they start to grow, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for.
How to break a broody hen? A hen may go broody and decide she wants to hatch some eggs out herself. Here’s how to stop a broody hen.
Note: This article on how to care for wild baby ducks pertains to wild Mallard ducklings only. Domestic breeds of duck require different types of
What will you see candling eggs? Pictures and videos of candling chicken eggs at 7 & 14 days of incubation and a useful air sac development chart.
Domestic poultry breeds follow a standard that tells us how they should look. In the UK, we have the British Poultry Standards and the British Waterfowl Standards. I have spent the last 10 years visiting poultry shows with other photographers, photographing some of the best examples of the breeds, as well as researching their origins.
There are other standards worldwide: the European Poultry Standard, the American Standard of Perfection and the Australian Poultry Standard. In fact, in different parts of the world, the same breed can have subtle differences, names, or colour varieties. I have highlighted many of these on individual breed pages.
If you are considering which breed to keep, then the breed pages should help you!
If you are a newcomer to the wonderful (and productive) hobby of poultry keeping or just wondering about what you need to get started, then you have come to the right place!
Here are some suggestions for the newcomer from the Chickens Category to help you get started:
Domesticated chickens, especially modern hybrids, are fantastic egg layers; however, this performance increases nutritional demands, so how we feed our chickens has never been so
What are the best laying hens for eggs – Hybrids or pure-breeds? Anne looks at the advantages and disadvantages of the two and makes some
The ultimate guide to chicken houses, exploring features you will need to keep your chickens happy, healthy and safe from predators in their coop.
Although a chicken’s needs are fairly basic, getting the right kit can make life so much easier for the owner.
Jeremy Hobson looks at some ways of building chicken runs to give your chickens space yet still keeping them free from danger.
Looking after chickens is relatively easy, but like all animals, they still need care and consideration. Follow these ten steps to looking after chickens, and
Keeping Ducks & Geese
Smallholders keep waterfowl for eggs, occasionally for meat, to mop up bugs in the garden, and for exhibiting.
Thinking of adding some domestic waterfowl to your allotment or back garden? You may find our articles on keeping ducks and geese useful.
Contrary to popular belief, domestic ducks and geese do not need a pond, and a plastic tub refilled daily is enough for them to be content.
Most will enjoy a bath but spend the rest of the day dabbling in the grass and looking for insects. They are the greatest at environmental slug control on any vegetable patch.
As a bonus, many ducks will lay good numbers of large eggs that are particularly good for cake making.
On the other hand, Geese will require plenty of grass and are useful as environmentally friendly lawnmowers! As well as keeping grass short, they will alert you to unwanted visitors.
Why not take a dabble in our sections on ducks and geese? I’ve included a few reading suggestions for you below:
Keeping a few domestic ducks in the garden is growing in popularity. In this beginner’s guide to keeping ducks, I will cover all the basics you’ll need to consider before getting ducks.
This article provides information about feeding ducks: specifically domestic ducks. That is, pet ducks kept in gardens or smallholdings.
Ducklings and Goslings will follow the first moving object they find after hatching. They treat it as their mother. So even if it’s a large man with a big hairy beard, he becomes ‘mum’!
This beginners guide to keeping geese will take you, step by step, through the basics of keeping geese, whether you are wondering whether geese are the right choice for you or if you have already purchased your geese and want to learn more.
If you acquire one or more new geese, you may want to add them to an existing flock. Introducing new geese can be tricky at times. They are intelligent birds and often form strong family bonds that need to be respected when making introductions.
One of the easiest ways to incubate and hatch goose eggs can be to leave it up to a broody goose. Not all breeds are good mothers. Heavier breeds can be quite clumsy and better at breaking eggs than sitting on them, but many lighter breeds will sit the term, hatching and raising their young.