BEST IELTS General Reading Test 434

BEST IELTS General Reading Test 434

IELTS General Reading Test

Chickens

As pets and useful garden animals

Before making a decision whether to keep chickens either as pets or convenient egg-layers and insect­ eaters, it would be wise to check with the local council. Regulations vary from region to region and, although some cities still allow residents to keep chickens, the practice is far from usual today. Some communities prohibit roosters because of their early morning crowing and only allow the much quieter hens.

However, in most rural areas, there are generally no restrictions on keeping chickens either as ornamental or practical birds. There are some Asian ornamental varieties with eye-catching plumage: the Cochin and Silkie from China have distinctive feathery feet and the Phoenix from Japan has a strikingly long tail. These are examples of birds that have been imported by western countries to serve mainly ornamental purposes, even appearing in exhibitions.

IELTS General Reading Test

Chickens do not have to be especially beautiful to make loving and gentle companions and raising a few as garden pets is not at all difficult. The main concern is protection from predators-both domestic predators such as dogs and wild predators such as stoats and weasels. Backyard poultry need a secure place to roost at night. A cage or other structure which provides shelter, perches and nesting boxes with a lock-up door will suffice.

Straw or non-toxic wood shavings can be spread on the floor and in the nesting boxes. Nocturnal predators are a danger and most chickens cannot flap their wings well enough to escape from peril. However, as they will naturally return to the same roost at night, they will enter the cage of their own volition as dusk falls and as long as the door is shut after them, they will remain secure till morning. If the birds are expected to stay in the chicken coop all day, a much larger structure is called for.

IELTS General Reading Test

Chickens which are allowed to roam around the back garden during the day will prove to be safe, natural and effective methods of insect control. Not only that, but their constant scratching in search of insects will take care of unwanted weeds under bushes and other plants and even provide some beneficial soil cultivation. Chickens are great recyclers too and will eat almost any kind of kitchen scraps-leftovers and wastage are turned into usable, fresh, nutritious eggs! One of the benefits of free­ ranging poultry is that they are exposed to the benefit of abundant sunshine which is a great health boost.

On the other hand, wet weather can be perilous and make them more prone to disease. A planned approach to disease and parasite control is needed for the general health and well-being of backyard fowls. This may include a vaccination programme, health supplements in their feed, and keeping them in a dean, dry pen in times of extremely rainy weather. In dry weather, there is nothing more luxurious for a hen than a good dust bath to take care of mites and other problems.

Young chicks are effortlessly turned into tame pets by hand feeding and simply spending time with them. Older hens also respond well to being fed by hand or they can be helped to forage for themselves if small rocks and other items are turned over allowing them access to the bugs and worms beneath. In both these cases, human presence is undoubtedly associated with food and will not only be tolerated but welcomed. Thus, companionship is assured and sought after! Chickens are said to be loyal, intelligent and even cheeky but it probably depends on the depth of their avian-human relationships.

Breeding chickens will obviously require a rooster to fertilise the hens’ eggs. If local by-laws allow it, invest in a rooster and watch his fascinating courting behaviour. Typically, when he finds food, he ducks in a high pitch to attract the hens and lets them eat first. When he is courting a particular hen, he may circle her, dragging one wing on the ground-attracting her attention in this way is just part of the mating ritual.

IELTS General Reading Test

When a hen goes ‘broody’, she stops laying eggs and sits on the nest to incubate the clutch of eggs under her. She will rarely leave the nest during this stage, even to eat or drink, because she must keep the eggs at a constant temperature and humidity. Incubation takes approximately three weeks but the eggs do not hatch all at the same time so she will stay on the nest for a few more days. After the eggs have hatched, she will take care of the new chicks.

This is a time when it is naturally important to keep predators away. Raising chickens can be a satisfying and enjoyable hobby. They do not need as much care and attention as most pets and there is always the reward of wholesome and nourishing eggs to look forward to.

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the text?

In boxes 28-35 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE     if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information

NOTGIVEN if there is no information on this

28. Keeping chickens in some cities is common practice.

29. Male chickens make a lot of noise.

30. In the country many people keep chickens.

31. Some species of chickens are popular because they have beautiful feathers.

32. Certain tame, household animals may pose a threat to chickens.

33. At night chickens like to sleep on straw or other bedding scattered on the floor of the hen house.

34. Most chickens will manage to fly out of harm’s way.

35. Free-range chickens do not need a large hen house.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.

36. Chickens in the garden are a good form of _________

37. Scratching in the dirt not only helps the soil but it also gets rid of __________

38. Hens prefer_________ to rain.

39. Chickens can be successfully hand-reared and tamed easily if they learn to make a connection between people and _________

40. Incubating eggs must have a consistent level of warmth and _________

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BEST IELTS General Reading Test 434

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28. FALSE

29. TRUE

30. NOT GIVEN

31. TRUE

32. TRUE

33. FALSE

34. FALSE

35. TRUE

36. INSECT CONTROL

37. (UNWANTED) WEEDS

38. DRY WEATHER

39 FOOD

40. HUMIDITY

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