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Chicken Keeping for Beginners

Chicken Keeping for Beginners

Автором Cheryl Arvidson

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Chicken Keeping for Beginners

Автором Cheryl Arvidson

87 pages
45 minutes
Jun 11, 2018


Whether you want to keep hens as pets who lay a few eggs or are aiming to end up with a larger flock and sell eggs at your gate, it is a very rewarding pastime.

This book is an expanded version of the notes I hand out to students who come on my Beginners Chicken Keeping course. I've kept chickens since childhood in a variety of settings - on a smallholding and in my back garden, selling eggs at the local farmers market and breeding birds for sale. I've been teaching on the subject for nearly a decade.

Chicken Keeping for Beginners gives a thorough overview of how to get the best out of your hens, with a look at choosing birds, housing, feeding and basic health-care.

Each chapter is summarised at the end with a handy quick-reference 'Essentials' paragraph.

A perfect introduction if you are thinking about keeping chickens.

Jun 11, 2018

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Cheryl runs occasional courses on poultry-keeping for both beginners and the more experienced. She has kept chickens in both a smallholding and a back-garden setting over the last forty years. She has a Further Education Teaching Certificate and used to teach in the Community Education Service. Because of family considerations, she doesn't have as many birds as she used to, but she still keeps Barnevelders, which are dual-purpose utility birds that lay dark brown eggs.  She also continue to breed bantam Millefleur Pekins and quail-coloured Barbu d’Anvers.

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Chicken Keeping for Beginners - Cheryl Arvidson

Chicken Keeping for Beginners

by Cheryl Arvidson

© Copyright C. A. Arvidson-Keating 2018


I HAVE KEPT CHICKENS in both a smallholding and a back-garden setting at various times since I was a child. I grew up on the smallholding where I now keep my birds and during my teens, I bred a number of rare breeds alongside keeping one hundred ex-battery hens for eggs, which I sold for my pocket money. In my thirties, I kept hens in a village garden. I feel that my approach to poultry keeping is based on extensive practical experience as well as reading around the subject in both modern books and pre-war literature about health and wellbeing. I have a Further Education Teaching Certificate and taught in the community for many years.

This book is an expansion of the notes I have been giving out to people who come on my chicken keeping courses. People come on courses with various levels of knowledge and various aims and questions. I aim to send them away not necessarily with their questions answered; but instead, asking the right questions for their situation - and perhaps with more of an idea of what will work or not work for them in chicken keeping terms.

Whether you keep hens as pets who lay a few eggs or are aiming to end up with a larger flock and sell eggs at your gate, it is a very rewarding pastime!


Emma Corless for making me a cover with art from Pixabay.

All the people who have come to me to learn over the last decade, who’s questions have prompted the expansion of these notes.

My long-suffering husband, who hates chickens quite a lot now.

You are all fab. Thank you.




A few facts

1. Which hen?

So much choice!

Bantam or large breed?

Hybrid or pure breed?

Popular Hybrids

Heavy breed or light breed?

Vaccinate or don't vaccinate?

Where to buy?

Cost versus age?

ESSENTIALS: Choosing Stock

2. Housing and equipment

What space do I need?

Types of housing


Chickens can fly!

Shade and dustbathing


Other equipment


3. Feeding

Feeding 'straights'

Chickens are omnivores

Feeding layers pellets

Feeding leftovers

Feeding live food


4. Maintaining health


Common health problems

Egg Binding

Mycoplasma (Roup)



Common parasites


Red mite

Scaly Leg


Treating with Ivermectin drop on

Notifiable diseases and the GB Poultry Register

Newcastle Disease

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

The Poultry Register

Moult and laying over the winter

Basic medicine cabinet

When to say goodbye


ESSENTIALS: Maintaining Health

Further Reading

A flock of Lakenvelders

A few facts

THE BASIC EQUATION for hens is NUTRITION IN = EGGS OUT. In the middle are all sorts of complicated factors like genetics, health, and environment.

The laying cycle of a hen is a minimum length of twenty-five-ish hours and the best layers will lay an egg a day for a few weeks and then sometimes miss a day because of this.

The anatomy of a hen. Note that the oviduct and the clocoa (anus) share the same output!

Hens need a balanced diet to perform properly. If they don't get enough of the right things to eat, they will not lay. Chickens are omnivores – they will eat pretty much anything from corn to flies to frogs to each other. They also need plenty of fresh water at all times.

The darker brown the colour of the egg, the less a hen will lay – it is

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