Book review: Keep Chickens!

Keep Chickens!

Tending small flocks in cities, suburbs, and other small spaces

by Barbara Kilarski

This book originally caught my attention as I have always wondered whether I could keep chickens in my back garden at home. The answer to this would seem quite clearly to be no, as my garden is about 10 metres square, and is already inhabited by a shed, a bbq, a table and chairs, a raised bed and a gigantic bay tree, not to mention a load of rose bushes. But worth a read anyway I thought, just to check.

Barbara Kilarski is very enthusiastic about domestic chicken keeping. You can tell by the exclamation mark in the title. Her well researched and thorough tips on choosing a chicken, coop design and chicken care are peppered with stories about her own flock, whom she refers to collectively

as ‘the Girls’. There are plenty of anecdotes about the antics of Whoopee, Zsa Zsa and Lucy throughout. There are some full colour pages of various breeds of chicken at the back of the book, along with some egg recipes in case you find yourself with a surplus. Illustrations are chosen from a 1940’s title called Poultry Tribune, which I think would be worth a read in itself.

This is a must read if you’re considering keeping chickens in the future, and particularly if you’re going to be building a home made coop. It has some great advice about all aspects of coop design, from nest boxes and roosts to vermin control.

The only downside to this book is that it is written from an American perspective, so some of the sections on ‘chickens and the law’ may not be relevant to non US readers.

Author: Rachel Wheeley

Comedian, podcaster, based in London, UK

5 thoughts on “Book review: Keep Chickens!”

  1. I also have a tiny little backyard and have wondered about the feasibility of keeping chickens…did the book confirm your assumption that your yard really is too small?

    In Perth recently (my home city), they had an open-garden display where the yard was again very small but they had a movable chicken coop set up to ‘rotate the chickens’, it was very well done.

  2. Hi Wendy,

    It’s not really too small as such, but it does join directly onto the flat downstairs’ garden. It is also only separated by a tiny fence from the gardens to the left and right of ours. Such is the way of London terraces! I think overall that they would probably make a little too much noise, and annoy our neighbours. But in theory I don’t think the garden’s actually too small, so do get the book for more ideas!

  3. Hello I’ve arrived here via Veg Plotting! What a nice blog and a great title. The fact that I’m a lifelong sofa flyer and forever drinking cups of tea helps of course.
    One of my lawn lounging blog friends Allotment Lady keeps chickens, and quail, as you can see at
    Have a good weekend!

  4. I keep 9 chickens in quite a big area and also have two cockerels.
    Space wise your area is techinically big enough for 2 or 3 chickesn especially in a movable run and if it is a grassy surface, even bettter.
    Chickens don’t make much noise, it is only cockerels that do, so I don’t think noise would be an issue.
    If you wanted them to wander around free range style, which is better your perimeter fence would need to be around 6 feet high and you do need to watch out for cats, foxes probably not likely where you are.
    I would strongly recommend chicken keeping they are lovely animals to have around and their care needs are not to intrusive.
    I do have a website with a chicken articles section with some more detials for anyone interested:

  5. We live in Hilo and recently bought a 10 ac. parcel. I have been a city girl all of my life but have dreamed of having a small scale farm with chickens. So I am interested in all the info I can get.

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