Flash Bristow (techiebabe) wrote,
Flash Bristow


Hi! Here are some links to resources about keeping chickens in your garden. It is something I want to do. I have done a lot of research (to the point of joining a new forum and being able to answer the queries raised there!) but haven't personally handled hens for about 20 years.

These links are provided as a convenient way to gather them and share them with hubby, but if they are of any interest to others, then great.

Note: I've read loads and LOADS, from casual guides to scientific papers. I just thought these would make a fairly comprehensive selection for beginners, while not overwhelming.

I'm looking to adopt 4 ex-battery hens in spring 2016.


Battery hen rehoming org through whom I'd plan to adopt my hens: http://www.bhwt.org.uk/rehome-some-hens/

Coop with double run - actually, I'd get a third for our space so it was a coop and three adjoining runs; this would fit recommendations of 1ft2 per bird in the coop, and 1m2 per bird in the run. Would also get covers for the 2 runs nearest the coop, and ideally an automatic timer to open the pop hole in the morning. (Hubby! See my sketched plans for coop and run with plenty of space and enrichment!) http://www.m.chickencoopsdirect.com/devon-double-run.html

Excellent beginner's guide, haven't yet found anything more useful! Start here and if you only read one guide cover to cover, make it this one. http://keeping-chickens.me.uk/

Size needed: https://poultrykeeper.com/keeping-chickens-faq/what-size-run-chickens/ but note: Nearly all sites recommend 1sq ft in the coop with 15" of perch each. In the run, if not allowing out to free range, most guides recommend 1sq m per hen. This guide specifies 1sq m per pair of hens but this is less than the average guide and I'd aim for around 1sq m total space per hen, with good enrichment activities in the run, plus the chance to free range as a bonus.

Down The Lane - beginners' guide and comprehensive articles, also friendly discussion forum: http://m.downthelane.net/?task=get&ihash=575ca6a098&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.downthelane.net%2FPage_7.php

Backyard Chickens learning centre - useful articles but a lot of overlap with other guides: http://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/1/Learning_Center

More info on the life of a battery chicken and any quirks: https://poultrykeeper.com/rehoming-battery-hens/

USA based guide - more pragmatic and a few extra concepts covered: http://chickenbreedslist.com/Chicken-Articles.html

Omlet's guide: Not hugely helpful, but Omlet are the market leader of coops, so included for completeness: https://www.omlet.co.uk/guide/chickens


Finally: Mike the Chicken Vet is a Canadian vet who specializes in commercial hen farming. While I don't like some of what he describes, I respect his knowledge. A few of his articles that I found interesting were...

1. Anatomy of a hen. Do you know how they grind up their food, without teeth? How they breathe? That they don't urinate? And that only one of their ovaries will be used? https://mikethechickenvet.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/chicken-guts/ and https://mikethechickenvet.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/chicken-lungs/ (and for anatomy of the egg production system, see http://naturalchickenkeeping.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/where-do-eggs-come-from-how-chickens.html
- note that these links contain post mortem images of the internal workings of a chicken. Fascinating tho!)

2. The different types of housing. In barns where hens are free to perch at different heights, 85% have a broken bone by the time they are less productive and discarded a year later. In cages, this figure is less. Mike questions whether it is better to have a bored but safely enclosed hen, or one that can exercise natural desires but may get hurt? Personally I hate all types of intensive farming and if all I can do is save four little hens from execution without ever having seen daylight or known the pleasure of a dust bath, then I must. https://mikethechickenvet.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/response-to-activist-video-follow-up/
Tags: chicken, hen
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