A slice of

Sourcing your

Buyers guide

Choosing a Breed

Chickens for Beginners: a slice of history

A slice of history
Chicken provides 20% of the world’s animal protein at a reasonable price – what a huge debt the human race owes the humble domestic fowl. But I want to know where my eggs have come from – don’t you? Wouldn’t you like the thrill of producing and eating your own free-range fresh eggs, the finest quality protein which comes in its own packaging? The taste and texture is something everyone should be able to experience. Truly fresh equals less than 24 hours old and a newlaid egg is obvious when you find you have difficulty in cleanly peeling off the shell from a hardboiled egg – the white really sticks to it. And what fun to have different coloured or sized eggs for different members of the family.

Keeping chickens is easy, if you follow a few simple guidelines, but of course, as with all livestock and via the Animal Welfare Act of 2006, the duty of care for their health and responsibility for their welfare is yours, so not only a moral duty but now one enshrined in law.

Chickens can take up little time and will benefit a garden with manure as well as being a constant source of fun and entertainment for children and adults alike, in fact you may well find yourself half an hour later sitting on the bucket, fascinated by the behaviour of these amazing birds – they still fascinate me after nearly 40 years of keeping them.

The ancestor of chickens is a small pheasant of Asia, the the Red Jungle Fowl (Gallus gallus, hence the general term galliform family) and chickens have provided us for the past four thousand years with eggs, fresh meat and feathers plus some truly horrible traditional medicines.

Red Jungle Fowl

There is a huge range of breeds of chickens, plus the hybrids which are commercially selected for high egg production. You may have heard the term poultry – this covers chickens (large fowl and bantams), turkeys, ducks and geese, all of which have been domesticated and are kept for eggs and/or meat.

One small warning – this poultry keeping hobby is not only fun but definitely addictive and you will not only want more breeds but will wish to hatch them for the adorable chicks. All of this, plus health and welfare and husbandry you can learn from this website and from my books.

Also visit the website of Your Chickens
where you will find beginners’ pictures and stories plus advice – and decide to take out a subscription to this new and vibrant magazine.