When you decide to keep chickens, it is a commitment you are making to animals who are surprisingly aware, social and who will work for you their entire lives in one way or another. My philosophy is: give them the best live they can have – allowing them to express as much of their chicken-ness as possible.
Where do you start? You start by reading and talking to those who have had chickens for a while.
Did I read everything under the sun before I went ahead to get some chickens – NO – however, I was lucky to have been recommend what just might be the best book out there for someone like me who wanted to work with chickens and gardening.
It covered everything I needed to know to get started – and I went back to consult it afterwards.
Then, once you have chickens – some questions came up that needed more detail if and since I discovered that: a – I was not gonna kill my roosters – and b – I started looking at the chickens a little more in the direction of a pet …. Are there other books – sure, but I never felt the need to get any more – the only reason I am considering other books is to be able to tell you about them …. so maybe that will mean a trip to the library some day.
I found these sites very helpful and/or interesting:
backyardchickens.com: HUGE – has a LOT of info, some of the best info and a lot of MISinformation that are merely opinions. After a while, you can tell better which is what.
I especially enjoyed the story told by Beekissed.
Even today I check out the site periodically for this or that reason and I did find homes for 6 of my roosters through there.
If I ever have an issue or question with my chickens, I ALWAYS google search and read up on what comes up via the search. I found that chickens have almost miraculous healing powers when it comes to physical injury. And I have not yet had a chicken that suddenly got sick….but getting medications or professional care might be problematic – so that would mean more time trying to get info online.
My favorite chicken poop page (never thought I’d be interested in it that much either, just wait)
I found a lot of good articles and blogs over time, but then, because of facebook, these here are the ones I check more often just because it is fun:
Natural Chicken Keeping: love some of their stuff since I am going the organic, natural route with my chickens.
Fresh Eggs Daily: again, a lot of cool info and in-line with the natural/organic way to keep chickens.
The Chicken Chick: very well researched articles and very useful info on stuff like chicken first aid kit and bumble foot surgery. Seems more geared towards the urban/backyard oriented chicken keeper rather than the rural zoned flock keepers.
I liked this one Poultry FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Poultry (With Emphasis on Free-Range Chickens) http://www.plamondon.com/poultryfaq.html
So far my chickens have been very healthy, but say – if I see a limping chicken – I search for what might be the problem – and it could be anything from a sprain, to bumblefoot to a broken toe….and more. Or the first time a weeklong triple digit heat wave is happening …how can I help the chickens? Or …my broody will not allow me to move her …she is sitting in a nest box …what do I do …You need to know about “pasty butt” BEFORE you get your chicks…and what food you can give them.
Stuff like that.
I can tell you one thing: OBSERVATION is one of your best tools. Common sense another.
Here are just a couple of pages and topics I happen to have a bookmark on.