The popularity of keeping backyard chickens keeps growing. But getting started with chickens can be a daunting process. There are so many choices to make and mistakes to avoid!
Of course, there are hundreds of amazing online resources about keeping backyard chickens—ranging from YouTube channels to Facebook groups. But it’s hard to sift through so much information and so many opinions. (Not to mention all the social media drama).
When it comes to starting the new hobby of getting, raising and keeping backyard chickens, you just can’t go wrong with a few carefully chosen guidebooks. So, here is our list of the best books on keeping backyard chickens (in no particular order). If you want to buy any of the books, just click on the book cover and the link will take you directly to the book on Amazon. (Home Garden and Homestead is an Amazon affiliate, and we receive a small commission. Thank you!)
Keeping Backyard Chickens: Getting to Know Your Birds
These two books give a great overview and introduction to the joys and challenges of raising backyard chickens. Plus, they help you understand your birds.
The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens: Simple Steps for Healthy, Happy Hens
The wildly-popular blogger Kathy Shea Mormino (the-chicken-chick.com) wanted to provide her readers with a no-nonsense, practical guide to chicken keeping in suburban and urban settings. She definitely succeeded with this book.
The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens takes so much guesswork out of chicken keeping, without getting distracted with too much focus in one area over another. If you can only get one book for chicken-keeping, this well-rounded volume would be it. One impressive focus of this book that stands out is predator-proofing. Losing chickens to predators is both common and heartbreaking. So, it’s great to see a beginner’s chicken keeping book place so much emphasis on the safety of the birds.
“This book has excellent information for all chicken lovers,” states one reader. “This book is very well put together with loads and loads and years and years of hands on knowledge.” The vast majority of other readers agree, most of whom have come to rely on Mormino’s impressive know-how and practical approach to raising chickens.
How to Speak Chicken: Why Your Chickens Do What They Do & Say What They Say
One of the best parts of owning chickens is sitting back and watching their antics. Chicken behavior is just so comical, strange and fascinating. That’s where How to Speak Chicken by Melissa Caughey comes in.
If you want to learn more about what their noises and movements mean (such as “why is my rooster dancing in circles around a hen?”) this book will have all the answers. It isn’t a chicken keeping guide, exactly. But this book is a valuable read for anyone who wants to better understand their plump feathered friends!
“Rather than just another book about chicken care,” says one reader, “Melissa delves into both the mind and brain of a chicken.” Not all readers appreciated the fun, chicken language and storytelling focus of this book. (In fact, some said this book does not have much practical value.) We disagree. For those who want to dive deeper into the fascinating world of chickens, this book is delightful.
Keeping Backyard Chickens: Gardening and Beyond
There are many books about keeping backyard chickens that go well beyond the basics. Lisa Steele’s book, Gardening with Chickens, deals with how to tend both chickens and a successful garden. And Chickens: Beyond the Basics is a great read for anyone who already knows about chickens–but wants to learn more.
Gardening with Chickens: Plans and Plants for You and Your Hens
There is a reason why Lisa Steele is one of the most beloved chicken book authors in the world. Her natural approach to chicken keeping offers a refreshing perspective that both new and experienced chicken keepers enjoy.
One of her newest books, Gardening with Chickens, is a great addition to the chicken-keeper’s library. It is a blend between gardening, chicken-keeping, and how the two can work together. Steele makes the argument that, done right, gardens and chickens can be tended together for better gardens, healthier chickens, and happy humans.
One reader states, “This book was the best one of the group by far, by like a factor of 10.” The “marriage” of gardening and chickens is made possible, which this reader appreciates, stating, “if you’re looking at how to start a functional combination, I can’t imagine there is a better book out there.”
Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics
Yes, there are lots of great chicken books out there for basic chicken keeping. But this terrific book by Pam Freeman is meant for those who’ve “moved beyond the basics” and want to learn more advanced tips, tricks and knowledge.
Unlike more beginner-friendly guides, Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics dives deep into chicken behavior, keeping roosters, and letting hens raise their own chicks. The subtitle of this book is Lessons for Expanding Your Flock, Understanding Chicken Behavior, Keeping a Rooster, Adjusting for the Seasons, Staying Healthy, and More!, which gives you a pretty good idea just how detailed this book can be. We especially liked the helpful guide for seasonal issues, such as winterizing coops in winter and preventing heatstroke in summer.
One happy reader says, “This book is an easy read, and covers more than most chicken books I’ve read.” Appreciating this book’s “advanced beginner” guidance, this and other readers make it clear that Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics is ideal for new chicken keepers seeking a little more information, and “does not come across as overwhelming.”
Urban Chicken Keeping and Kids
Raising chickens and kids is both rewarding and challenging. Kids love chickens, but they need to learn how to take care of their new feathered friends. These books will help them all get along together.
A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens
Pet chickens and children are a fun combination. For parents starting to raise chickens with their kids, A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens is the perfect companion. It is full of beginner-friendly guides to a healthy flock, with lots of good info and projects for the family.
This book’s easy-to-read tips also makes it a nice guide to follow for children who are ready to be responsible for the chores of keeping urban chickens. So many families are choosing to start out with chickens. It’s good to know that there is a book written just for them.
Interestingly, many readers who enjoyed this book did not have children of their own. Instead, they wanted to have a little more fun with urban chicken keeping. Even families who have already had chickens for a while appreciated this book. “This is a great resource for someone who is wanting to get their children more involved in the backyard chicken lifestyle,” said one reader. The fun illustrations, posters and recipes re-ignited their interest and helped make chicken keeping a fun family project.
How To Raise Chickens
This practical guide, licensed by the FFA (Future Farmers of America), is a no-fluff-added book about everything you need to know about raising chickens. Keep in mind, this is a book meant for families that are involved in raising chickens for meat, eggs or show.
How to Raise Chickens is a little less appealing to suburban chicken-keepers who keep their birds primarily as pets, but it’s still a fabulous resource. Unlike other guides, How To Raise Chickens by Christine Heinrichs goes into detail about the history of chicken keeping, and includes a crash-course about different breeds. If you ever consider showing your birds, this book is a great start.
Not all readers appreciated the livestock-focused approach to chicken keeping in this book, but many appreciated the truly no-nonsense tone. One states, “the FFA textbooks and guides have always been high quality and sensibly written… This book on chickens covers literally everything I could think of to ask.” Other readers, especially those getting involved with 4-H, FFA or the APA (American Poultry Association), wholeheartedly agreed.
Keeping backyard chickens does not have to feel like a big, feathery experiment. Taking guidance from these 6 best books on urban chicken keeping is a great way to give your birds the best possible start.
For more information, read A Beginner’s Guide to Raising Urban Chickens. And to find out more about one of the most popular breeds for backyard chicken keeping, read Lavender Orpington Chickens: A Perfect Backyard Chicken Breed.