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Welcome to Poultry Keeper

A hobby website for backyard poultry enthusiasts

Tim Daniels poultrykeeperHello and welcome to our hobby website, run by a small group of enthusiasts, including me, Tim Daniels, located in Herefordshire, UK. Poultry Keeper is 13 years old, and our aim has always been quite simply to provide the best source of information available online for backyard poultry enthusiasts.

We constantly update and improve 500+ articles and guides on the website and add new pages monthly. I hope we can help inspire you in our fantastic hobby, and you will bookmark our website for future use.

Winter is here, and many of our hens have finished their annual moult. By February, many utility breeds will start to come into lay again. 

Here in the UK, the outbreak of bird flu continues. The chief veterinary officer declared an avian influenza prevention zone across the UK at the start of November, which requires us to keep our birds indoors and strict biosecurity measures are in place. Licences for bird gatherings were revoked, resulting in the cancellation of poultry shows. It’s a difficult time for many, keeping poultry indoors that have been used to being outdoors.

I have gathered some articles from around the site that you might find helpful over the winter months.

in Focus

Winter can be a challenging time keeping chickens. With bird flu restrictions, cold and wet weather, it is the most difficult time of year for us and our hens. It is also the only time of year you will find me swearing under my breath as I buy a box of eggs because our hens have stopped laying! 

Of course, commercial egg producers use artificial lighting to keep their hens laying. If you want to extend the laying season but still allow your hens to moult and rest over the autumn, then early January is the best time to introduce light for chickens.

Since hens spend so long indoors, bedding needs to be changed more regularly to keep it dry. One trick I find really helps us here is to use BioDri sprinkled in the coop before adding clean bedding. As well as drying the floor of the coop, it is highly effective at killing bacteria and worm eggs. 

Some winter reading

Whilst we shouldn’t over-feed chickens with mixed corn because it is too low in protein for egg production, the cracked maize is exceptionally high in energy which can help keep your hens warm, during the long winter nights. I feed a handful per bird an hour before they go to roost. 


One of the challenges of keeping birds safe during the darker months is being home in time for dusk to lock up.

The ChickenGuard automatic chicken coop door saves me a lot of worries if I’m not home in time to lock up. I reviewed it in my ChickenGuard Automatic Chicken Door article. 

ChickenGuard Auto Chicken Door


Rats are often a problem during the winter. Chickens do not ‘attract rats’, as some say; rats need shelter, food and water, and we often provide all three things where we keep our chickens. There are some simple changes you can make, such as raising chicken coops off the floor and using rat-proof feeders, but if you discover evidence of rats, or you want to make sure they don’t get a hold, then we have an extensive guide on how to get rid of rats.

Chickens in Cold Weather
Keeping Chickens

Keeping Chickens In Cold Weather

How cold can chickens tolerate? What should you feed chickens in winter? How do you stop water freezing? Here are my tips for the cold, winter weather.

Foxes and Chickens
Poultry Predators

Foxes: Poultry Predator #1?

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.

Feeding Chickens Corn
Mixed corn contains cracked maize which is extremely high in energy and great to keep hens warm during the long winter nights (photo taken before the bird-flu housing order).
Chicken Guard Automatic Chicken Door

ChickenGuard Automatic Chicken Door

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.

How to Get Rid of Rats

How to Get Rid of Rats

How to Get Rid Of Rats As a poultry keeper, sooner or later, you will need to know how to get rid of rats. A

Chicken Bedding

What is the Best Chicken Bedding Material?

I rate some of the chicken coop bedding I have used, from wood shavings and straw to shredded paper and cardboard, and even some of the specialist poultry bedding like Easichick and Auboise.

Winter jobs...

Ensure Birds are Locked Up at Dusk

There is more risk of foxes coming under the cover of darkness and when food is scarce. Consider an auto door closer like the ChickenGuard to lock up your birds at dusk if you can't always be there to do it.

Keep Chickens Safe in Cold Weather

This article is packed with tips for keeping your chickens healthy over the winter months, so whatever the weather, you will be prepared!

Get a Postal Worm Egg Count Kit

If you didn't test your birds in Autumn then don't forget to get a worm egg count to see if you need to worm your chickens This also provides reassurance that herbal treatments are working.

Planning a Holiday? Don't Forget the Chickens!

What do you do with chickens when you go on holiday? Chickens and holidays don’t always go together, so here are some tips to help you get away.

Keep Poultry Inside & Take Biosecurity Measures

An avian influenza prevention zone was declared in the UK, and we must keep our birds undercover to prevent access by wild birds and take biosecurity precautions. Learn more in our guide to Bird Flu which has been updated for this winter outbreak.

Take Precautions Against Rats

Rats need three things: Food, shelter and water. We often unintentionally provide them with all three, making our backyard attractive for rats over the winter. It's better to take simple precautions now than to deal with an infestation later!


We have over 5000 photos on our website, and there are thousands of photos taken at poultry shows that give you some good examples of what a breed should look like on our poultry breed pages.

Domestic poultry breeds follow a standard that tells us how they should look. We have the British Poultry Standards and the British Waterfowl Standards in the UK. 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, the same breed can have subtle differences, names, or colour varieties in different parts of the world. 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!

Chicken Breeds Thumbnail

Chicken Breeds

Photographs of all 93 chicken breeds with many breed profiles.
Duck Breeds Thumbnail

Duck Breeds

Photos & breed profiles for every domestic duck in the poultry standard.
Goose Breeds Thumbnail

Goose Breeds

Photos & breed profiles for all domestic Geese in the waterfowl standard.

Breed in focus: The Wyandotte

This time it’s the turn of the Wyandotte to be updated from a breed page to a breed in focus page! Grant has done a fantastic job of sharing his immense knowledge of this breed to expand and update our Wyandotte page.

Gold Laced Wyandottes

New to
Keeping Chickens?

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 our Chickens Category to help you get started:

For your research:

Keeping your chickens healthy:

Feeding Chickens
Keeping Chickens

Feeding Chickens

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

Omlet Chicken House
Keeping Chickens

The Ultimate Guide to Chicken Houses

The ultimate guide to chicken houses, exploring features you will need to keep your chickens happy, healthy and safe from predators in their coop.

Looking After Chickens
Keeping Chickens

Looking After Chickens in Ten Easy Steps

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.

If you are 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:

geese feeding
Keeping Ducks
Keeping Ducks

Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Ducks

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. 

Feeding Ducks
Keeping Ducks

Feeding Domestic Ducks

This article provides information about feeding ducks: specifically domestic ducks. That is, pet ducks kept in gardens or smallholdings.

Imprinting in ducks
Incubating, Hatching & Brooding Ducks

Stop Following Me! Imprinting in Ducks & Geese

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’!

Beginners Guide To Keeping Geese
Keeping Geese

The Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Geese

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.

Introducing New Geese
Keeping Geese

Introducing New Geese to Your Flock

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.

Hatching Goslings with a Broody Goose
Incubation and Hatching Geese

Hatching Goslings with a Broody Goose

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.