Their gentle sounds can be very soothing to the ear and I enjoy hearing them everyday over the garden wall as my neighbour’s chickens roam about their run, even though we are within half-a-mile of a busy city centre.
Chicken keeping was popular in the past but was often a money-making enterprise that anyone with a small amount of land could undertake. Searching the shelves of second-hand bookshops we found a copy of Poultry-Keeping.This was written and published exactly one hundred years ago in 1918 and we have reproduced this book as an ebook ready for the modern reader.
The advice given in Poultry-Keeping is provided by acknowledged experts and stands the test of time. There are wise words here on keeping chickens clean, well-fed and healthy, with regular reminders that chickens need space and time to scratch and forage for food themselves in order to stay well and productive. This is in a time before battery hens were crowded into tiny cages with no room to stretch their wings or have a dust bath. The authors also provide guidance on the breeds of birds to buy for different purposes – egg-laying, chickens for eating, showing, etc. – breeding and care of chicks, showing chickens (which was very popular in 1918), the business side of poultry-keeping, information on ailments and diseases, as well as advice on keeping other poultry such as ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowl.
There is a great deal of practical benefit and simple enjoyment to be gained from keeping chickens. They are not too demanding and can give a great deal of pleasure. You do need to keep them safe from the local fox though!
One interesting benefit explored in recent years is the effect animals can have upon people’s wellbeing. Hen Power is an organisation that was set up to help combat loneliness amongst elderly people. It does this by engaging them in both arts activities and hen-keeping to promote health and wellbeing. This has been achieved by taking chickens to individuals and groups; into care homes for example, where the birds provide a focus of attention and a catalyst for conversation. It has also enabled links between elderly people and schools where the hens provide the source of partnerships between the old and the young.
For more information see: www.equalarts.org.uk/our-work/henpower www