How to raise chickens: 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.
It's all in the planning.
Raising and caring for chickens 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" articles. Read through them systematically, one section at a time.
It may be tempting to skip some of the early ones, but knowing whether the law is on your side, and whether your family is likely to benefit from keeping chickens, are 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 and advice to keep you up-to-date.
Find more information about my newsletter, here.
Welcome to the fun world of chicken-keeping!
How to raise chickens in your backyard: making the decision.
The first step in your plans to raise chickens - make sure it's even 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.
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 a 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
How to raise adult chickens.
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 article covers the particular needs a laying hen has, from which food she'll need to when she'll start laying, how to tell, and how to make sure the eggs have good, strong shells.
You'll also discover whether the benefits of having paying hens outweighs the costs of keeping them.
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.
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 it's the basis of a healthy flock. Don't miss this section.
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.
Free ranging chickens is one of the things most backyard keepers aspire to. 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.
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.
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.
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!
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!