Resources for Raising Chickens

The Ploughshare Institute for Sustainable Culture

Ploughshare offers a number of classes on raising poultry and a number of other homesteading skills, including a 3-day and 5-day homesteading course.

Visit their website for more information.


Premier1 Supplies

Premier1 is a fence supplier. They have all types of fencing supplies for poultry, horses, cows, sheep and other livestock.

I have mainly used their poultry netting and solar/battery-powered fence charger for many years, along with some of their electric fencing products for larger livestock. I've been very happy with everything that I've gotten from them. In addition, they have very friendly and helpful customer service.

Visit their website.

Premier 1

The Livestock Conservancy

The Livestock Conservancy several free resources that are very useful for small-scale poultry breeding, including guides on how to select chickens for meat qualities and for egg production.

Visit their website.

Numbered Cable Ties (Leg Bands)

Cable ties with unique numbers printed on them (for example, 1 through 50) are available from Stromberg's.

When using these, it's important to take into consideration how much the chicken will grow. Leave them loose and check the fit periodically.

I've run into some difficulty with the numbers wearing off on these. If anyone knows of other sources, please let me know, and I can add them to the list.

Long-Lasting White Vinyl (Billboard Tarp Fabric, or Sign Vinyl)

For raising poultry on pasture, I have been using coops that have a structure built from pipe and cattle panel. These have a white fiberglass-reinforced vinyl covering that last for several years before the sun eventually breaks down the PVC and it becomes brittle. In comparison, a typical silver "heavy-duty" tarp has lasted at best about 4-6 months in the same application before literally becoming shreds.

If you can find a local source for used billboards, those work well and are made from the same sort of reinforced PVC.

Otherwise, I have been purchasing tarps from The tarps are reasonably priced for the length of time that they last and are available in various thicknesses and sizes. I recommend using the thicker tarps.

You can also hem the tarps and add grommets to make them easy to fasten securely to coops. We've tried several types of glues, but what has seemed to work best is HH-66, which is available from various sources. (I've found that there are some challenges with getting it to stick well, so if you're running into trouble with it, please let me know.)

Book: Don't Kill the Laying Hen (Potter)

This book was originally published in 1909. Reprints are available from Amazon.

The author, Thomas Potter, goes into much detail on how you can identify which hens are laying and which hens are not.

In the article, How to Maintain a Productive Laying Flock, I give a framework for applying some of the approaches that he describes. However, this book covers additional methods also, some of which would be useful for people with larger flocks.

Book: The Call of the Hen (Hogan)

Or the Science of the Selecting and Breeding Poultry for Egg-Production

This book, by Walter Hogan, written in 1921 goes into detail on how physical characteristics of a hen relate to her egg laying potential, along with other information that is useful when breeding for production.

It is definitely a useful book to read if you are considering selective breeding with a goal of improving egg production.

Free digital versions of the book are available online, and reprints can be purchased from Amazon.

Mike Badger Interviews Pat Whitaker: a Breeder of Black Australorps in North Carolina

A very interesting interview. Pat tells some of the characteristics of Black Australorps that makes them well-suited for homesteading use. She also describes some of what she focuses on when selecting breeders.

Our Australorps came from a breeder in Texas who purchased his original breeding stock from Pat Whitaker.