Keeping Chickens in Your Back Garden

In this 7 minute video, The FoodiesBooks looks at Keeping Chickens In Your Back Garden.

You can watch the video or you can read a full transcript of the video below.

Start of Video Transcript

How did you get chickens?

We got them from a place at Queenswood, near Hereford I found it on the Internet.

Were they expensive?

Yeah, they were only £6 each

What do you need to get started?

Well you’ve got to .get them at home and we were very lucky as someone gave us a house. We transported them home in a box and the place where we got them from, they gave us food and bedding so, we set up their bedding and did all of that and put them into the chicken house.

Why do they need a fence around them?

Because to stop them flying over and foxes don’t get them. Yea foxes don’t get them.

How much space do they need?

Oh, um… however  many chickens you have you need  like we have two chickens, we need two square meters of space one square metre each.

What are your chickens called?

We have Briony and Princess Emily. Well that one is Princess Emily and this one (laughs) Briony. The greedy one, yes.

Show Us Where Your Chickens Live

Open the gate…We will keep it closed, OK. Oh, there is one right up the back! Oh there.

What’s the ladder for?

So they can actually get up there. They fly down. out from under there… they fly down… no they jump down, yea they jump down and they start flapping.

What Do You Do Each Morning?

We normally You know  let them out, feed them, do their water and collect the eggs.

Let’s See What they Eat…

they love that food, yea that’s their favorite

Is the Food Expensive?

No it’s not too expensive, I just get it from a local store, it’s called Countrywide, and it’s about, they sell a lot of pet food, and it’s about £7 for a big bag which will probably last us 3 months or so.  And the bedding is about £7. and we’ve used about a quarter of a bag .. and we’ve had them for four months, so I should say that would last a long time.

Are There Any Eggs Today?

Except for the long one, I’ll get that one for you. There’s there’s two eggs and there’s one at the very back, I’ll get that one for you

I think that I have got Briony

Well I can almost reach it.

Do they Always lay them in there?

Yes sometimes they lay it very far.

Sometimes they lay it over here and eat them all.

Yeah once it rolled down there, didn’t it Tom?

And it cracked and they eat it.

How Many Eggs do They Lay?

Well we have one each day, two each day, one from each chicken.

What Must You Do in the Evening?

Shut them and get the chickens in there and shut them um like this.

Look this is closed and that is how you open it in the morning.

and you leave it open in the daytime

How often do you have to clean them out?

Um..once a week… well you have to like, move this and the house,

take the house… take out that… all up… and clean it all up and the hay.

In there in there

and clean up all the hay put the poo away.

Can You Pick the Chickens Up?

Yes but you have to pick them up carefully, just like this…

If they let you

Don’t squash her while she is eating…

Sometimes he flaps…


but what must you remember when you hold them.

Near your chest.

Where is that.

Why do you have to hold them like that and hold their wings in?

To keep them warm?

No, they flap.

What is wrong with flapping?

Because they could flap or hurt you or they might hurt themselves.

Do They ever peck you?

Well no,

They only peck you when you have nothing in your hand.

No  they peck you when you got food in your hands…because she was going to peck me right now and I had a worm in it.

They think that there is  one piece of food left and so they peck it.

Do they get sick?

Ah there are some illnesses, they can get lice and the best thing is just to keep an eye on them if you ever get in contact with them and try and keep their hygiene, clean them out because you see them every day if you notice that they are poorly You know just that they are not  layin eggs, or, and just not getting up in the morning, Then I think that I would  get in contact with a vet.

Have Your Chickens Had any Problems?

We did have actually, with Briony  she molted, and I’m alarmed because I came down and they were quite alot of feathers missing … there were  feathers everywhere.  She started laying really soft eggs that just sort of dissolved and then she ate them.  I read about it and found out that is just a normal thing that happens to chickens once a year they molt, they lose their feathers and get new ones and during that period which can take up to six weeks they don’t lay eggs, or they lay very soft eggs.

Any Other Problems?

They lay very soft eggs and the other thing is we weren’t giving them enough shells, when we first got the chickens we weren’t giving them enough shells and they’ve started to lay softer eggs, and they’ve started to actually eat their eggs.  And again, I was quite alarmed, but when I read about this it it was this habit that they form… they’ll always eat their eggs.  We gave them some shells, and they started laying hard eggs again and we have not had a problem with it.

Egg Laying

Chickens for Eggs, Self Sufficiency, and Homesteading – Modern Pioneer

In this 4 minute video by Modern Pioneer, they discuss egg laying chickens.

Feel free to watch the video or if you would prefer to read a full transcript then find it below.

Start of Video Transcript

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about fowl. Now I have a small family and I decided that I would like to have about 8 laying hens. And as you can see I’ve got some guinea fowl in there, those are my little tick herders. Those will be completely free range. Now what I’ve done is I’ve built a portable chicken coop, or what’s known as a chicken tractor. And I take the wheels off and on so I can set it flat to the ground, and I can move them around on the property. Now they’re ready to be moved, I would have moved them earlier this week but there’s a lot of rain. So let’s go have a look. Now these hens won’t start laying for probably another 2 months. So I haven’t put a nesting box in just yet. And I also plan on putting in some pipe feeders. Now the nest box will go back here on the backside of the coop. It will have a lid with a lock on it so that in the winter time we can move these down, move them down close to the house, and then we can have access to the eggs. It’s not unusual for us to get, you know, 30 inches of snow at one time. So let’s go take a look. So as you can see the feeder and the water container take up a lot of the floor space in here. So I’m going to do away with that feeder and I’m going to put in some pipe feeders instead. Now I decided to put the window in the, the importance of the sunlight is to stimulate the hens in the winter time for laying. Here’s a vent that I’ll put an adjuster on so in the winter time we can judge how much airflow. Because we don’t want them to be drafty, but we do want some circulation. Now the roof, the eves of the roof are open at this time too. And I’m going to address that later. Now I built this, this is a 4 foot by 6 foot box and I’ve got R9 in the walls. I’m in zone 5 so it gets right chilly here. Come on girls. Now, when I let these guineas go, I’m going to build them a coop on the back of another out building on the property. And they’ll, I’ll feed them, water them there and they’ll be able to come and go. Now I’m going to put their roost probably 12 feet off the ground because they like to be high. And if they decide to come back every evening I might get some millet and put some millet down and call them in every evening. And, but we’re going to let those free range and try to get some of those deer tick that are here.

End of Video Transcript



Chicken Breeds

Selecting A Breed For Your Chicken Flock

In this video by Victory Farm, chicken breeds are discussed.

Please find a full transcript of the video below.

Start of Video Transcript

In 2002 we left the big city and decided to start a farm.  We started with sheep, that was a bad idea.  Then we got some chickens, just a few we thought.  That was a good idea.  Now we produce over 20,000 eggs per year, and may be one of the largest producers of grass fed eggs in the state.  That’s us, we’re victory farm.

This is a chicken, and this is also a chicken.  But this is still a chicken.  There are many breeds of chicken, most fare, some fowl. And depending on your goals, whether you want a small backyard flock or a full commercial farm, the breed of chicken you select is very important.

Consider this:

This is a barred rock this is a favorite amongst backyard flock owners. They are very self reliant, very healthy and hearty, but they only lay about 150 eggs per year.  They also tend to be flighty and less friendly than other breeds, catching this one was a little bit challenging.  They can be hard to handle and they do go broody.  Broody means they try and pick your hands off when you try and get their eggs.  Now this one really wants to go they don’t like to be handled or held, so we’re going to let her go.  And off she goes.

This is an ISA type hybrid layer. Hybrids are specialty strains crossbred to have certain traits.  These girls lay about 300 eggs a year and are the friendliest birds you can ever hope to meet.  They’re easy to handle and rarely get broody.  Now when we first got our strain of these, these aren’t red stars, these are actually just called production layers, there’s a certain type called ISA developed in France.  When you first got… of these, they were the most delightful birds to raise, they were friendly easy to take care of.  They will come up to you for petting, the problem is they aren’t good on the range, they don’t know when to hide from predators and the don’t fare well in the winter.  Look how friendly she is, other birds would be in the next country by now.  ISA, hybrid layer, lovely birds.  Don’t pick my eye out, Ok go!  Fly be free!  Be free!  Fly!  I’m not holding you anymore!  Go Ahead!  You’re all free!  Born free, as free, you won’t go.  You’re just going to sit there…

Hybrids are tame and gentle and you can catch one in mere moments.

This is a hybrid layer.

But most pure breeds are a lot harder to catch.  Here’s farm hand going after a barred rock, and as you can see a barred rock does what a chicken should do when something is chasing it.  It should run, and run it does.  These birds are almost impossible to catch outside, and that’s one of the many reasons they are better for free range environments because they will run from a predator.  And off she goes into the woods.

Hybrids however are fairly easy to catch and make a quick meal for most predators.  Hybrids are also less hardy than pure breeds.  We live in New Jersey and this winter we had more snow than has ever been recorded.  We lost many birds to weather stress and nearly every one was a hybrid.  But if you live in a warmer client and don’t free range, Hybrids can offer great advantages, such as being incredible friendly, easy to handle, less flighty and they’re very well suited to a closed coop and run.

But for our farm, our favorite bird has always been the rhode island red.  They’re hardy, fairly well behaved and lay about 280 eggs per year.  This is a purebred rhode island red, they are purebreds, they’re not hybrids so they are harder to catch. Took me quite a few minutes to catch this one, and if you notice in their feathers, there’s no white underneath, they are brown all the way through.  The rhode island reds are a deeper mahogany color and these are one of our favorite birds for free ranging production farm.  This is one of our favorites.  One of the reasons it took so long to catch is the rooster didn’t want us to catch so he was getting rather aggressive over here.  We’re going to cut this before he comes back.

There were some confusion between red stars and rhode island red.  Red stars are hybrids and you can identify them by the white feathers underneath the more maroon feathers on top.  Whereas the rhode island red has the dark maroon feathers all the way through.

This is an … but that’s arguable.  There’s a lot of debate in what can consist a true … and what doesn’t.  Some say these guys are americanas, some people say they can only be called green egg layers or blue egg layers because that’s what they lay.  I like … on a farm because they do lay interesting eggs, they lay a fair number of eggs, they are generally good in the winter, and they know to run from predators.  They are a little flighty you can’t handle them very well, as you can see.  THis is a … which is why I was able to catch her, the full grown birds are kinda hard to catch.

But every now and then we like to get a breed that isn’t the best for production just because we like them.  THis is a five week old … you can always tell they’re … because they have feathers on their feet.  WE got a …  by accident a few years ago.  A male, and he had such a sweet disposition… are very well known for just being sweet disposition, pleasant friendly birds.  So we were at the hatchery a few weeks ago, five, six weeks ago and we saw these guys and we picked out about four or five of them.  And we’re looking forward to them.  Again they’re not the best production birds, but sometimes you just want to have friends.

So which breed is best?  It really comes down to your goals of having a flock and your personal choice.  If you want a few backyard birds then having a mixed flock is great.  If you’re going to free range and live in a moderate to cold climate, pure breeds are the best.  I would recommend a mix of breed because each one has their own characteristic, personality, and charm.  If you live in a warmer climate and or you’re not free ranging, hybrids can offer great advantages such as being easier to handle, less flighty and are better adapted to captivity.  If your goal is to produce eggs, they same criteria hold true.  Hybrids are great in warmer clients in confined coups, they’re friendly, they don’t go broody as much and they’re really easy to handle.  But if you live in a moderate to cold client or plan to free range, I would strongly recommend pure breeds.  They are far more savvy when it comes to predators, and far more hardy when it comes to surviving hard winters.  They do go broody and are more flighty but they simply survive better.

If you have questions or comments please visit our blog, or hit us on twitter where our username is @VictoryFarm.  This and other webcasts are available on ITunes.  Just go to podcasts in the ITunes store and search for Victory Farm.

End of Video Transcript


23 Simple Ways to Better Your Chicken Coop & Run (Free Infographic)

Here, you go!

Within the chicken keeping world there are loads of people who are looking for information about chicken coops and chicken runs.

It is not really that surprising that this topic creates so much interest considering how fundamental a good design and build of the coop and the run are to health and safety of our flocks.

I have created a list of 23 “elements” that you need to have  in your coop and run in order to get close to perfection!


Broody Hens- The Ultimate Guide (61 Common Questions- Answered.)


Broody Hen Ultimate Guide - Edited

Hello and welcome to my blog post, “Broody Hens- The Ultimate Guide.”

Why have a given it such a grand title? Well, it contains the answers to sixty one of the most commonly asked questions regarding broody hens. Some of the answers are a few sentences long, some are a few paragraphs.

There are two types of chicken keepers that are interested in finding out more about broody hens.

The chicken keeper that wants to hatch chicks and the chicken keeper that wants to break their broody hen (much more on that later.