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
Home > Keeping Chickens
When I started on my chicken keeping journey as a child, we fed our birds kitchen scraps, boiled and mixed with a couple of scoops of layers mash. We were constantly battling with mud in their run, and sometimes the fox would try to get in, causing a huge commotion and a lot of stress.
We were just a typical rural family raising a few hens for eggs at the bottom of our vegetable garden. We didn’t have access to the vast information available these days, and looking back, I sometimes wonder how our hens laid any eggs at all!
Fast forward 40 years to today, and things are a LOT different. Information on keeping chickens is freely available, and there are some excellent books you can buy (recommendations below) to help you ensure they are happy and healthy.
Several celebrities keep chickens in their gardens, such as Jamie Oliver, Monty Don, Billie Piper, and Sadie Frost. It has even been reported that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge raise chickens at their Norfolk home that they hatched from eggs.
There could now be up to one million chicken-keepers in the UK after a surge in newcomers to the hobby during the Coronavirus pandemic. This new generation is compassionate, health-conscious and ready to learn… and that’s where poultry keeper comes in, to educate and inspire!
This category has many articles and guides that will help you on your journey to raising backyard chickens at home, on a smallholding, or even an allotment. Articles are grouped by topic- you can see these in the table of contents.
From the beginner’s guide to choosing equipment, housing, feeding and choosing the right type of birds for your setup, these articles should cover all you need to know to get started raising backyard chickens!
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
Over the years, I had many people come up to me asking whether I was ‘the chicken man’… After explaining that I kept chickens, they
Although a chicken’s needs are fairly basic, getting the right kit can make life so much easier for the owner.
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
Everything you need to know about chicken nesting boxes. Building, buying, dimensions, how many per chicken, broken eggs & stopping hens sleeping in nest boxes.
Although most UK laws are aimed at the commercial poultry sector, we still have to follow several regulations. In the US there is a lot of variation between cities.
Many of us have relatively small back gardens these days, and if you get the urge to keep some chickens, you might start wondering whether
Anne asks the question we should have all asked before buying our chickens: What do you do with chickens when you go on holiday? Chickens
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.
All flocks of chickens have a well-defined order known as the pecking order. This article will explain how this social hierarchy works and offer tips for avoiding conflict in your flock.
In the wild, the Jungle Fowl forages for food but only lays a small number of eggs each year. We ask our domesticated hens (especially hybrid hens) to produce large numbers of eggs and live in relatively confined spaces. To keep them healthy and laying plenty of eggs, we must feed them the correct diet. These days, with complete feeds and following some simple rules, it’s quite simple to get it right, and these articles should help.
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
In this article, you will learn about the purposes of the two different types of poultry grit and how you can feed these together as
Have you ever wondered what all of those different ingredients were in commercial poultry feeds? Poultry nutrition is a complex topic, so I asked Dr. Deepa,
With good husbandry, we can keep our birds healthy and dodge many poultry diseases and parasites. Natural products can help build up the immune system and improve overall health. Long-term habits are essential for success, but many backyard poultry keepers are now taking a more holistic approach with their birds.
This in-depth guide will tell you everything you need to know about worming chickens. Most of the general information also applies to other poultry.
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.
In European countries where they consume large amounts of garlic in their diets, they have a lower risk of cancer and are less likely to suffer from heart disease, but what about garlic for chickens?
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.
Jeremy Hobson, the author of Success With Chickens, tries to uncover the truth behind some long-held chicken health myths and potions used as natural remedies.
How good is Verm-X for chickens? Verm-X comes in a liquid or pelleted formulation and I tried it out over 6 months, but how can you be sure it’s working?
Guide to using diatomaceous earth for chickens: parasite prevention, benefits as a feed supplement for health & better eggs, worming & tips for safe use.
These articles cover a wide range of topics about general chicken keeping.
The ultimate guide to chicken houses, exploring features you will need to keep your chickens happy, healthy and safe from predators in their coop.
With huge welfare issues surrounding intensively reared chickens, raising broiler chickens (fast-growing chickens for meat) is becoming more popular with the smallholder.
Information on assessing a cockerel’s temperament, which is especially important if you have young children.
If you are breeding or showing your birds, you will find it soon becomes necessary to use poultry leg rings. You can identify chickens, ducks, geese
Whilst many heavy breeds of chickens can’t really fly high, and a modest fence height will keep them in, the Mediterranean light breeds are very
Euthanasing or killing a chicken is one of the less attractive aspects of raising chickens… Here is how to dispatch a chicken using neck dislocation.
There are times when we need to introduce new chickens to our flock. Maybe you’ve purchased some new birds or have raised some chicks that
The question that’s asked the most is, why have my chickens stopped laying eggs? There can be several reasons, and this article goes through each of these.
We frequently get owners asking questions about the risks of getting Salmonella from their chickens and eggs. So what exactly is Salmonella? Salmonella is a
Should I vaccinate my flock? This is a question often faced by vets in practice, and the answer is often a complex one. Firstly, let’s
I am a layman when it comes to veterinary science. I have no qualifications in this field, so this information should naturally be taken as
The ‘cheap’ Chicken or Duck house cost me about £25 to build, yet is the most sturdy, well-insulated house I have! Normally my advice to
Of course, many of us raise chickens for eggs. These articles cover eggs and laying.
You may have bought some eggs, and they have expired, and you are unsure of their freshness or, if you have free-range chickens like me,
Our chickens are productive pets and will lay a good number of eggs for us, so you may want to sell your surplus eggs at
Brown eggs are still preferred by most people in Europe, but why can’t you find white eggs in the UK?
Gail Damerow explains what colour eggs are possible, what causes different colours and provides a list of different chicken eggshell colours.
If you want to keep an eggshell indefinitely, decorate it for a special occasion such as Easter, or fill an egg with mustard or similar to stop chickens from eating eggs, then you will need to know how to blow an egg.
Chickens can go well with gardening, especially if you can make compost using their manure, but you will need to keep them off freshly planted areas because most breeds will scratch while they are foraging.
A complete fertiliser and an excellent source of organic matter, composted chicken manure provides you with a valuable commodity for your garden.
The last thing we want is to put our hens at risk of illness. This article provides a list of poisonous plants for chickens that
Pammy Riggs, author of ‘Keeping Chickens’ for Dummies looks at gardening with chickens and other poultry.
I often get asked by new chicken keepers which plants in the garden are chicken friendly. I have been working on this list for over 10 years and think I’m getting fairly close to saying the list is accurate!
Day-length affects the hormones which control egg-laying; the longer days means there should be no shortage of eggs now. As the temperature increases, poultry worms can be a problem, so it’s a good time to get a worm count. If you planed on hatching using an incubator, now is a great time to get it fired up!
During the spring, poultry worms start to increase in numbers as the temperature holds above 10°C. It is a good idea to have a plan for springtime worming.
Jeremy suggests some ways of preparing for and ensuring healthy, early, chicks from your breeding stock.
If you are considering breeding chickens for sale or expanding your flock’s size, then one of the most rewarding ways to do this is by
During the heat of summer, we need to ensure every bird can get access to fresh, cool water in a shaded area. Some hens go broody at short notice, and if you have hatched chicks, you will be busy. Warmer weather also means we have to be on the lookout for the dreaded red mite in our coops, but at least we have no shortage of eggs!
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.
As roosters get older, their spurs grow longer, and some can become very sharp and pointed, causing damage to the sides of a hen during
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.
In this guide, I explain what poultry saddles are, and how we can fit one to protect a hen’s back from a cock’s feet and
How to deal with a serious red mite infestation in your chicken house.
Autumn is time for the annual moult when our hens stop laying eggs and will need a little extra care as they replace their feathers.
The autumn is an excellent time for us to visit poultry shows and auctions to buy or sell surplus stock, catch up with friends and show off our finest birds. We should also spend some time planning for the cold winter months ahead, taking stock of the birds we will overwinter and getting on with any maintenance.
Chickens moulting their plumage in autumn can be stressful, so we need to provide the correct moulting chickens diet and take care of their needs at this time.
There are a few jobs to consider in autumn as well as some planning to prepare you and your birds for winter.
For easier management over the winter months, I keep my cockerels together. This is how I make the introductions without having too many feathers flying!
Winter is the most challenging time for us and our flock. From heavy rain, snow and ice, to the challenges of lockdowns because of bird flu, these articles should help you and your birds through the winter!
Avian Influenza, or bird flu, is an infectious virus that affects many species of birds, including chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese. There have been many outbreaks worldwide,
Light For Chickens Hens kept under natural daylight hours will lay the majority of their eggs during the spring and summer months. As the days
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.
There are nearly a hundred recognised breeds in the British Poultry Standard. You can browse through profiles and photos of most of these in the chicken breeds category, but here are various breed-related articles.
There are some truly striking traditional British chickens. However, the Sussex, Dorking, and Orpington win favor with me as all time favourites.
Jeremy Hobson investigates the Fancy French breeds and the attitude the French have towards back garden poultry-keeping.
Jeremy Hobson describes the fun and pleasure these wonderful little birds have given him over the years – and suggests that you will be captivated too!
Not all chickens are docile! I have categorised their temperament into docile, flighty and aggressive for both US and UK breeds.
This article has some breeding tips for Marans chickens to obtain the right colour and quantity of dark brown eggs. The Marans (and please note they are
Judge Louise Carpenter judging Silkies at the Reading Bantam Show. In this article, Laurence, who has previously judged at the National level, examines the Silkie
In this article, Lawrence talks us through the Poland Breed Standard and provides a few tips for exhibiting Poland chickens.
Silkies are unfortunately prone to a few different poultry diseases. In this article, Lawrence provides some information on diseases that he has found are common to the Silkie chickens.
I have used various poultry equipment and housing over the years. I review some of it, and you may notice some of it in photos within articles where I’m using it. Here are some of my reviews of this equipment.
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.
The Omlet Eglu Go, and the Eglu Go Up are two small plastic coops, suitable for about three hybrid hens or five bantams.
Feeding chickens is a straight forward task and there are of course a number of different feeders available for the poultry keeper, whatever the flock size.
I can recommend these books I have read. The banner link takes you to Amazon and also supports this website if you make a purchase :-)
I own three VSB Chicken Door Openers and have just bought a forth for another hen-house; I thought it was about time to write an Equipment Focus review!
In this Equipment Focus, I test two ChickBox plastic nesting boxes in one of my coops and find them ideal to stop eggs breaking and easy to clean!
I took delivery of a large box of feeders from the manufacturer BEC and have been testing them for the last 4 months in a
In this Equipment Focus, I look at Omlet chicken netting that is a portable solution that can be used to keep your chickens inside an area to free-range or to keep them out of an area of your garden like the vegetable patch!
If you don’t want to use a wormer indiscriminately or need reassurance that a herbal product is working, then a Worm Egg Count Kit could be the answer!
The Red Top Fly Trap was something I discovered a couple of years ago and now buy half a dozen of these every year to
I have battled with red mite treatment on many occasions and have formed some views with other fanciers on the best red mite killer. Here are my top 8 red mite products.
General articles, guides, and information about raising backyard chickens at home or on an allotment.