How to Keep chickens - Part One

So, this is not, as the title may suggest, the definitive treatise on how to keep chickens. What it is is the summation of 8 years personal experience. It may not be the experience of others, but I write it believing that a lot of what you get in the "official" literature is rather irrelevant to your average chicken lover, and worse, it is off-putting, due to the morbid descriptions of chicken illness and discomfort, and the silly insistence on "choosing breeds". On the latter, and in practice, we have never chosen a chicken in 8 years - they chose us, or rather, you get what is available at the time. Don't believe the websites, chickens come and go and chicken breeders are, on the whole laid back and do not pay much attention to marketing.
I am an amateur, merely an enthusiast, but technical and health issues are dealt with here by Dr Weasel, who is a senior clinical scientist. Chicken health advice is therefore given with a degree of professional insight and practice.
We must have had some 40 or 50 of these delightful creatures over the years. Some were eventually left with other good people when we moved, one or two just died, but the majority, and I mean this, were killed by foxes, or merely left to die horribly after being torn to shreds by foxes. (Be in no doubt, if you keep free range chickens, the biggest menace is foxes. And by the way, all our chickens were secured at night; fox attacks occur at anytime, and we lost most of ours in broad daylight.)
So, why keep chickens? My reasons are personal, in that I am allergic to things like cats, dogs and horses, but like animals. Chickens made me curious, and the more I learned about them, the more I realised that they are complex, rewarding and easy to keep if you follow a few simple rules. And of course, they give you eggs. They give you a very special insight into things natural. Unless you have a heart of stone, after watching them roam free, you will never buy battery eggs again.

If you have any questions, please email me. The address is in my profile. I shall publish FAQs if there are any.

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