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Keeping Chickens

General Chicken Keeping

Articles and guides on keeping chickens at home.

Table of Contents:

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.

Featured Articles:

Beginners

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!

Laws on Keeping Chickens

Laws on Keeping Chickens

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.

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.

Chickens Pecking Order

What is the Pecking Order in Chickens?

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.

Feeding

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.

Feeding 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

poultry grit

Poultry Grit

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

Health

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.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Chickens

Apple Cider Vinegar For Chickens

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.

Garlic For Chickens

Garlic for Chickens

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?

Red Mite

The Ultimate Guide to Red Mite

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.

Verm-X pellets and liquid

Verm-X for Chickens

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?

General Chicken Keeping

These articles cover a wide range of topics about general chicken keeping.

Broiler Table Chickens

Fast Food: Raising Broiler Chickens

With huge welfare issues surrounding intensively reared chickens, raising broiler chickens (fast-growing chickens for meat) is becoming more popular with the smallholder.

How to clip a chickens wing

How to Clip a Chicken’s Wing

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

How to Kill a Chicken

How to Dispatch a Chicken

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.

Why have my chickens stopped laying

Why Have my Chickens Stopped Laying?

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.

Salmonella in Backyard Chickens

Salmonella in Backyard Chickens

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

Vaccinating Chickens

Vaccinating Chickens

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

Cheap Chicken or Duck House

A Cheap Chicken or Duck House

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

Eggs and Laying

Of course, many of us raise chickens for eggs. These articles cover eggs and laying. 

How to tell if eggs are fresh

How to Tell if Eggs are Fresh

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,

Selling Eggs

Selling Eggs Off the Gate

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

Related Category

Health>Egg Problems

Egg Problems

Egg Problems

Problems with eggs, such as wrinkled, soft or missing shells, blood spots, multiple yolks, watery whites or miniture size eggs.

Gardening

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.  

Seasonal: Spring

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!

Spring Worming

Springtime Worming

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.

Breeding Chickens

Breeding Chickens

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

Related Category

Chickens>Incubation Hatching & Brooding

incubation and hatching category

Incubation, Hatching Eggs & Raising Chicks

Articles about incubation & hatching eggs artificially in an​ incubator, raising chicks, and hatching as Mother Nature intended using a broody hen.

Seasonal: Summer

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!

Hatching eggs with a broody hen

Hatching Eggs with a Broody Hen

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.

Trimming Rooster Spurs

How to Trim Rooster Spurs

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 Stop a Broody Hen

How to Stop a Broody Hen

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.

Seasonal: Autumn

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.

Seasonal: Winter

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!

Chickens in Cold Weather

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.

Breed Articles

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.

French Fancy Chicken Breeds

French Fancies

Jeremy Hobson investigates the Fancy French breeds and the attitude the French have towards back garden poultry-keeping.

Sebright Bantams on child's shoulders

In Love with Bantams

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!

Related Category

Chickens>Chicken Breeds

Chicken Breeds

Chicken Breeds

Photographs of all 93 standard breeds of chicken with breed profile pages for all the major breeds. History, breeding hints and links to breed clubs.

Breeding Marans Chickens

Breeding Tips for Marans

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

The Kit!

Equipment I've used & reviewed that you will see in this category

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.

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.

Treadle-feeder

Grandpa’s Feeders Review

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.

Books

My recommendations

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 :-)

VSB Door Opener

VSB Chicken Door Opener

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!

ChickBox Plastic Nesting Boxes

ChickBox Plastic Nesting Boxes

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!

BEC Feeders Review

BEC Feeders Review

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

Omlet Chicken Netting Kit

Omlet Chicken Netting Review

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!

Worm Egg Count For Chickens

Worm Egg Count Kit for Chickens

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!

Red Top Fly Traps

Red Top Fly Traps

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

Red Mite Treatment: My Top 8 Products

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.

Chickens: Categories

Where would you like to go now?

Chicken Breeds Thumbnail

Chicken Breeds Pages

The A-Z of all 93 standardised breeds plus information on Hybrids which are ideal for beginners.

General Chickens Section

Keeping Chickens

General articles, guides, and information about raising backyard chickens at home or on an allotment.

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Incubation, Hatching & Brooding

Articles about incubating, hatching eggs and brooding your baby chicks.

Ex-Battery-Hen-thumb

Rehoming Commercial Hens

From finding ex-battery hens to caring for their extra needs during Free Range retirement.

Keeping Chickens FAQ Thumbnail

Breeding Chickens & Genetics

Articles on breeding chickens, including more advanced topics on the genetics of poultry.