We finally did it! This summer, my flock (I mean family) and I, finally fulfilled our (or maybe just my) wish of becoming backyard chicken people. If you have also been thinking of raising your own backyard chickens, but aren’t sure if you can pullet off, then maybe some of our SDG resources are egg-actly what you need. So enough of my fowl chicken jokes, here are some fun family reads from authors that are much better comedi-hens than I am:
Now that your family is laughing and thinking “we need some poultry stories of our own to share,” it’s time to start thinking more seriously about the how’s, when’s, where’s, how many’s and so on, type questions that will apply to your own backyard flock. I luckily have some friends from whose experiences and advice I am leaning on, but I also took advantage of social media groups, talks with feed store employees, and of course, multiple poultry books and websites, many of which I’m sharing here today.
My favourite resource thus far has to be: Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. You can borrow a Storey’s Guide to keeping many forms of livestock from our catalogue and this was the book for me. The book covers everything from choosing the right breed for you and your family, to caring for them at all stages of growth, and protecting your flock from disease or predators. And with that last point in mind, the book also explores the practical aspect of your chickens as prime prey for many species, including your own family pet. Though our beagle has been intensely curious about his new backyard pals, I’ve kept this very fact in mind, and have been careful to keep our coop well out of our dog’s range. Hopefully, with his howling, other predators will be kept at bay, but know that any number of incidents can occur, and your birds, especially if they are young chicks, can meet many unsettling ends, which is part of the risk involved.
On a much more positive note, this book really helped me narrow in on what would be best for our family of three which for now is: a small number of slightly older chicks that our toddler could bond with as they mature to laying age, a breed known for being relatively docile (again since we have a toddler caring for them), hens that can typically handle cold winters (Canada eh?), a bird that is a relatively decent egg producer, and when the time comes, a bird that could be considered dual-purpose. Contemplate what factors you want in a breed before you buy. It will help you understand how to care for them, and help you feel confident in your decisions.
I’ve also been flipping through Free Range Chicken Gardens which is a pretty unique item that helps backyard keepers think about having their birds co-exist amongst their plants. We have some apple trees at home and a small vegetable garden, so I’m sure you can imagine why striving for a system that mutually benefits both fruits and fowls might be of interest.
I’ll end with a few other great catalogue items that you may enjoy as you plan your own little backyard chicken oasis.
If you are seeking a few more general guides to chicken keeping, try: The Backyard Chicken Keepers Bible, Chickens in Your Backyard, and Keeping Chickens with Ashley English. Another great starter book with an emphasis on natural practices that some families might prefer is Let’s All Keep Chickens! And doesn’t that title just say it all?
Want to watch your feather-babies grow from small specs in their shells? Try Hatching and Brooding Your Own Chicks. This resource also looks at other species beyond chickens, if you plan on exploring other backyard birds as well.
Give your hens the perfect little paradise with: Art of the Chicken Coop.
For young readers, try Chickens by Rachael Bell to learn the basics about chickens and figure out what responsibilities you can handle. If you are anything like our little, the first thing you’ll want to do in the morning is check-on, feed, pet, and observe your feathery friends grow.
And lastly, one more laugh I definitely have to share: my absolute favourite chicken story of all time: Chicken Run! Watch, laugh and cry at this wonderfully funny family flick, but just do not turn into a Mrs. Tweedy because your flock might get flighty.
Have fun, and good luck future keepers!