Backyard chickens for beginners: all you need to know to get started.

So you're thinking of keeping chickens but you don't know whether it's a good idea? 

Or maybe you've decided but need some guidance on where to begin.

How to raise chickens - a beginner's guide. Pin for later.

It's all in the planning.

Raising and caring for backyard chickens, whether you're a beginner or an expert, is an entertaining hobby as well as a source of delicious, nutritious eggs. And there are critical things to know before you start.

On this page, you'll find links to articles which offer important information as part of your planning.

These are the basic "how to raise backyard chickens for beginners" articles. Read through them systematically, one section at a time. 

It may be tempting to skip some of the early ones, but being prepared for costs involved, knowing whether the law is on your side, and assessing whether your family is likely to benefit from keeping chickens, are all critical issues.

Once you have the basics established you'll be able to move onto the more detailed topics. You'll find links to them at the bottom of all the pages on this website.

It's also a good idea to sign up for my newsletter. The first few emails will give you a virtual conducted tour of this site so you know where to find information. The weekly newsletter itself offers tips, advice and a weekly "quick win" to keep you up-to-date.

Find more information about my newsletter and sign up here.

Welcome to the fun world of backyard chickens for beginners!

Already have your own flock? Start here!

5 steps to a happy flock

Thumbnail link: how to raise happy chickens in 5 easy steps.

If you already have backyard chickens and want a quick guide about how to make sure you're meeting all their needs, this is the article to start with.

Based on the globally accepted 5 welfare needs of chickens, it outlines what's absolutely essential for their care, and points you where necessary to detailed articles for more complete information.

Backyard chickens for beginners: making the decision.

How much do chickens cost?

Thumbnail link to article: how much do chickens cost?

Keeping chickens in your back yard brings plenty of joy to any household. But can you afford them?

This long, detailed article helps you explore how much you will need for the initial setup costs (the coop and other permanent items) and how much the long-term running costs will be.

Part of my "welcome" email series, there's a free worksheet for subscribers to keep an eye on the pennies! 

Do this before you do anything else!

Chickens, the law and you

Backyard chickens and the law - link.

The next step in your plans to raise chickens: make sure it's legally possible.

Laws about keeping livestock, even if it's just two or three chickens, vary around the world, and even from one area to another within the same country. 

Make sure you know what the law says as it applies to your area. The worst thing would be getting your chickens only to discover you're doing it illegally.

Take my "caring for chickens" quiz!

Are chickens right for you? Link - quiz.

So you'd like to raise chickens but as a beginner, you're not sure whether they'll be right for your family?

Here's my ten question quiz which will help you think through all the different issues involved in keeping chickens healthy and safe. It covers all the critical issues.

Don't even consider buying chickens until you and your family have taken this quiz together.

Backyard chickens for beginners: learn the language!

Chicken-keeping jargon explained - link.

Once you know for sure that you definitely want to raise chickens, now's the time to start learning the language!

There's a whole new dictionary to be learned around the world of backyard chicken-keeping, and it can be confusing when you're starting out.

This article will help you with the most basic words in five basic areas: general terms, chicken anatomy, incubating and hatching, food and housing. 

How much space do chickens need?

How much space do your chickens need? Link.

Your flock will need enough space to stay healthy.

There are very specific regulations about this, and you need to make sure you know what they are so you can calculate how many chickens you can realistically raise.

This article covers how much space you'll need in two scenarios: if you can free range your flock, and if they'll be contained within a run. It also covers what a run should have to keep your hens safe.

Backyard chicken coops for beginners

7 chicken coop design ideas - link.

Your hens need a place to live. A coop is one of the most expensive items when you're planning to have chickens in your backyard.

Here you'll find information about what the ideal coop should contain, whether you plan to build it yourself or buy one ready-made.

From nest boxes to roosts, doors to light, this selection of articles has all the information you'll need to choose a coop which will be safe for your flock.

Still not quite sure whether chicken-keeping is for you?

I'll come clean: I'd always say chickens enhance life.

If you're not convinced, just watch this short video before you read my articles. It covers 20 good reasons why keeping chickens in your backyard is a must!

After it's played you'll see some other short videos about basic chicken keeping, too. Why not settle down with a cup of your favourite beverage and watch them all!

Planning on raising chicks? This section is for you!

Thinking of getting chicks? 5 questions for beginners to ask

Getting chicks? Ask yourself these questions first. Link.

Baby chicks are so cute. Fluffy and fun to watch, kids and adults alike love them. But there's a danger in buying or hatching chicks, in not thinking ahead to the time when they become adult birds.

This article asks five questions which will help you think through the issues, including what to do with males, the cost in time and money, matters of life and death, problem hatches and the drawbacks of brooding.

Don't allow yourself to be carried away with the cuteness. Chicks grow up. Be sure you know what the future holds.

Starting off with baby chicks?

All about caring for new chicks. Link.

If you want to bring home baby chicks, you need to plan ahead. While adults can get by with the bare minimum of planning, young chicks are more vulnerable and can easily perish if they don't have the right care.

This series of articles contains everything you need to know from what a brooder is and how to make your own, to which bedding is safe and which isn't, how warm chicks need to be kept and how to make sure they are, and what they need to eat and drink.

Backyard chickens for beginners: the welfare of adults.

Getting adult laying hens?

Thumbnail link to article: how to care for hens.

If your intention is to have hens in your garden to provide your family with delicious, nutritious eggs, it's wise to know how to provide the optimum care for your flock.

This series of articles covers the specific needs a laying hen has, from the basics of her environment and food, to the supplements she'll need and what to do should she stop laying.

Hens have special needs. Make sure you know what they are!

Should roosters be part of a beginner's flock?

All about roosters - link.

Roosters. Are they a benefit, or a challenge too far? Do hens want (or need) a male to be part of the flock, or are they happier left alone?

This series of articles will help answer the question of whether you should add roosters to your flock – five reasons why you should, anod another five about why you shouldn't! 

It also has answers to common questions like what should roosters eat, and how to deal when a rooster turns gangster.

What do chickens eat?

All about what chickens eat - link.

Chickens can't do without food, so it's a constant cost if your flock is going to survive!

This series of articles provides all the information you need whether you're planning to buy baby chicks, hens who are just about ready to start laying, or full-grown laying hens.

Take a look at the costs involved in feeding chickens before you decide to have them, and certainly before you decide how many you'll get.

What do backyard chickens drink?

What do chickens drink? Link.

Keeping your chickens well hydrated is critical. So what's the best possible liquid for chickens to keep them healthy? Is milk allowed? 

And what about adding liquids like apple cider vinegar or electrolytes to their waterers? When and why are they necessary, and how much keeps the flock healthy?

It's not difficult, but good hydration is essential for a healthy flock. Don't miss this section.

Backyard chickens for beginners: a health guide

Chicken health - link.

Chickens can become sick very quickly. It's good to be prepared before it happens.

This series of articles covers some of the most common problems chickens have through their life from chick to adult, and reviews some important ways you can keep your flock healthy and happy.

Take a look particularly at the sections about solitary confinement, and what you should keep in your chickens' first aid kit.

How to free range your chickens

How to free range chickens - and whether you should. Link.

Free ranging chickens is one of the things most backyard chicken keepers aspire to as beginners. But it is possible? And what's the best way to go about it while protecting your flock?

This article outlines specific research studies which examined the benefits and disadvantages of free ranging, including the health benefits for your chickens, their eggs and you. Is it worth it? Can you have the benefits and still deal with the disadvantages?

It also looks at the evidence for "enriched pasture", and how you can provide it for your flock even if you have a small run and can't "free range" in the usual sense of the word.

Chicken care through the seasons

Raising chickens - month by month tasks - link.

A chicken's needs change with the seasons. To learn how to keep your flock healthy and happy, you need to quickly have a grasp of which tasks need doing at what time.

This series of articles guides you through one month at a time, giving twenty tasks to be completed per month. 

And if you join my newsletter, you'll have the added bonus of a free printable monthly checklist to use as a reminder of which tasks need completing before the month is out.

How to raise friendly chickens

How to raise friendly chickens – link to article.

We all dream of having a flock of friendly chickens clucking happily around our family. But life's not always like that.

This article has six simple tips to make sure that, no matter what stage of life your chickens are at, you encourage them to be friendly and calm.

Start straight away, so that when you need to give your chickens a health check, they know your contact will be friendly and non-threatening.

How to photograph chickens

How to photograph chickens - link.

Photographing chickens is notoriously difficult.

In this article, I have nine simple steps you can take to make sure you get the most out of your photos, whether your subject is an incubated egg or an adult hen.

With 60 of my "top tips", this is an article you can't afford to miss!

Backyard chickens for beginners: how your flock can relieve stress

How to reduce stress, the chicken way! Link.

Just for fun – and yet there are many great lessons we can take from our chickens when it comes to relieving our own stress!

This article looks at six different chicken behaviours, and how we can use them to make our own lives healthier and happier.

From dust-bathing to egg-laying and plant-eating - see what you can learn!

Link to Raising Happy Chickens home page.