A Family Guide To Keeping Chickens

BOOK: A Family Guide To Keeping Chickens
7.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub





Anne Perdeaux
started keeping chickens almost by accident when she was presented with a ready-made flock of twelve assorted hens and cockerels. After a lifetime’s experience with dogs and horses, Anne was quickly captivated by her new pets and set out to learn more about them. The chickens proved excellent instructors and became the inspiration for a number of articles published in
Country Smallholding
magazine. Anne’s practical observations and detailed research led to her writing regularly for
Your Chickens
magazine, where she is now part of a panel of experts answering readers’ questions. She lives with her husband in rural Wiltshire, where they keep a motley crew of free-range chickens and guinea-fowl.





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Maureen Little


Holly Farrell


Maureen Little


John Shortland


Anne Perdeaux

To my father, who has always encouraged my enthusiasm for animals, and to Martin, who lives with the consequences




Constable & Robinson Ltd

55–56 Russell Square

London WC1B 4HP


First published in the UK by How To Books,
an imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd., 2014

Copyright © Anne Perdeaux 2014

Copyright illustrations © Jess Goodman 2014

The right of Anne Perdeaux to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in Publication

Data is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-1-90897-415-0 (trade paperback)

ISBN 978-1-84528-554-8 (ebook)

Printed and bound in the UK

1  3  5  7  9  10  8  6  4  2

Cover design by Mark Cavanagh



1. Before Your Chickens Come Home to Roost:
Planning for Your First Chickens

Can You Keep Chickens?

Finding Out about Chickens

Chickens as Pets

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

2. What Really Goes On at a Hen Party?
Understanding Chicken Behaviour

The Intelligent Chicken

Establishing the Pecking Order

Scratching and Foraging

The Importance of Dust-Bathing

Laying Eggs

What Happens at Bedtime?

Providing Shade and Shelter

How Do Chickens Get On with Humans?

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

3. Feathering the Nest:
Where and How Will Your Chickens Live?

Keeping Chickens in a Small Garden

Keeping Chickens in a Medium-Sized Garden

Keeping Chickens in a Large Garden or Smallholding

Considering How Many Chickens You Can Accommodate

Positioning the Chicken House

Different Types of Chicken Housing

What to Look for When Buying Chicken Housing

Scenarios of Keeping Chickens . . .

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

4. Birds of a Feather: Choosing the Right Chickens for the Job

Deciding Between Pure-Breeds and Hybrids

Hybrid Laying Hens

Selecting Your Hybrids

Pure-Breed Chickens

Picking Pure-Breeds

Finding Out More

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

5. Buying the Eggstras: What Else Will You Need?

Choosing a Poultry Feeder

Choosing a Poultry Drinker

Storing Feed

Providing a Dust-Bath

Giving Chickens Some Fun in their Run

Selecting Bedding

Keeping Things Clean

Putting Together a First Aid Kit

Using Automated Equipment

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

6. Chicken Feed: Organizing the Daily Rations

Feeding Scraps

Buying Feed

Supplying Grit

Providing Green Food and Grass

Feeding Grain

Adding Supplements

Giving Treats and Extras

Checking the Drinking Water

Feeding Chickens

Avoiding Poisonous Plants

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

7. How Do You Cock-a-Doodle-Doo? Buying Your Chickens and Introducing Them to Their New Home

Deciding How Many to Buy

Mixing Different Breeds

Choosing to Buy Chickens, Chicks or Eggs

Chicken Shopping

Bringing Your Chickens Home

Settling Your Chickens in Their New Home

Adding to Your Flock

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

8. Doing the Hen-Housework: Caring for Your Chickens

Establishing a Daily Routine

Doing the Weekly Chores

Remembering Other Tasks

Arranging Cover for Holidays

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

9. Outfoxing the Fox: Predators

The Fox

The Badger

Mink and Otters

Stoats, Weasels, Polecats, Ferrets and Pine Martens

Birds of Prey

Crows, Magpies, Jackdaws and Rooks

Rats and Squirrels

Trapping Responsibly

Domestic Cats and Dogs


Keeping Your Chickens Safe

Kids’ Corner

10. You Can’t Make an Omelette Without Breaking Eggs:
Eggs and What to Do with Them

Creating the Wonderful Egg

Finding Alien Eggs

Where Are the Eggs?

Eggs-Travaganza! Dealing With All the Eggs

Making Use of Your Eggs

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

11. In Fine Feather: Dealing with Parasites and Ailments

Looking for Problems

Appreciating the Causes of Disease

Combating External Parasites

Recognizing Infectious Diseases

Heart Disease

Respiratory System

Digestive Problems

Egg-Laying Problems

Treating Wounds and External Problems

Understanding Feather Loss

Looking After Yourself!

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

12. Having Something to Crow About: Cockerels

Aggression in Cockerels

Deciding Whether You Need a Cockerel

Hatching Cockerels

Producing Table Birds

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

13. Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They’ve Hatched:
Managing Broody Hens and Hatching Eggs

Recognizing a Broody Hen

Dealing with Unwanted Broodiness

Deciding to Hatch Some Eggs

Hatching with a Broody Hen

Using Artificial Incubation

Key Points

Kids’ Corner

14. Chickening Out: When Chickens Die 228

Calling it a Day

Disposing of the Body

How Long Do Chickens Live?

Losing a Pet

After a Loss

BOOK: A Family Guide To Keeping Chickens
7.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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