There are tons of books on Homestanding, sadly they are all written in an american aspect. We, in Quebec, have a very bipolar weather. We have very hot and very humid summers (from 20 C to 45 C - and this can happen in a day) and very cold winter (well we are supposed to have very cold winters but since 2010, I've rarely seen the -35 C, that used to make us tough cookies). American books never really deal with that perspective.
I am super novice when it comes to hens (and when it comes to a lot of things to be honest) but I grab some amazing info through the words of Bernard Desourdy. The guy is amazingly colorful, he calls himself big mouthed, but geez, what a wonderful man! First, he knows everything about hens, he breed champions tons of time (you should see that house that is full of trophies of any kinds). Second, he is willing to share his knowledge to all proven of having good intentions.
So I've learned several things about hens that I want to tell you.
1. Those are hens, not cats, not dogs, hens. You don't cuddle them like a cat, and you don't pet them like a dog. Of course, you can pet a hen but you have to do it with the back of your hand, not your palm.
2. When socialized properly, hens - even roosters, can become amazing pets. You have to win their trusts ... each day!
3. You can feed a hen everything --- but EVERYTHING that is not eggs or meat. You should see them eating mac and cheese!
4. It's not true that a hen lays a egg a day. It's true if you "boost" them with hormones (mainly the "nourriture pour poules pondeuse - aka toxic poison that is on sale at all the COOP in Quebec). When you boost your end, you force them to lay eggs. Is this really what you want? When you force them to lay, you tired them. After a while, your hen will become tired, without feathers and full of hormones. After 2 years you can kiss her byebye.
5. A well treated and well fed hens can lay good eggs until the age of 5!
6. NEVER EVER give a hen eggshell (some say it gives them calcium) yeah it does. But would you agree to eat your own ovaries? Plus, if you give them shells, they are more inclined to eat their own eggs.
7. If a hen starts eating her own eggs, set her aside, and fed her all the shells you can find (hens one only) plus her regular food. Just like you would react after being fed all you can eat ice cream for three days, you might never want to eat ice cream again (or not for a long time).
8. Hens and rabbits, don't match. Never put a rabbit in the same park as a hen. The hen will kill it.
9. You can give oyster shell to your hen for calcium. (one that are on sale especially for that)
10. When you are a newbie like me, you go to the coop for your hens ... at the "journée poussin". Just like us you'll be offered "red hens" and "white hens". FYI the red ones are called "Warrens" and the white ones are called "Leghorns". If you are a beginner and have no choice to go there to buy you hens (they are somehow expensive) take the Warrens. For a beginner this is an easier birds. Leghorns are somehow nervous birds and they are way less sociable then Warrens. The coop also assure you than the hens are 20 weeks old ... sooooooooooo not true. I got a hen this year that started laying eggs a week ago (that would made her 12 weeks old or so!). If you can go to a specialist breeder go for it. We bought Anconas, Uccles and Sultan from Bernard and I really like the Anconas, that's a very good breed for Quebec.
11. Bloody stains on the eggs? Don't panic, it's just your hen first egg. (you should have see me freaking out)
12. 4 times a year you can vermifuge your hens using like the tip of your pinky size of a garlic. Do this for 5 days and prepare yourself for the day after shitting .... ewwww (btw this is just for hens, never try on another animals this is toxic)
13. Hens should be treated for fleas twice a year.
That's about what I learned.