Raising Backyard Chickens

This is a photo of my backyard brood on their first day in their new chicken coop!

If you haven't checked out BackyardChickens.com you most definitely should. Their forums were an invaluable resource to me. Here is the basic start up info from their site includin glinks to their various forums:

Raising Chickens 101

So, you're interested in raising chickens?  You've embarked on a fun and exciting journey! BYC (BackYardChickens) is FULL of great information. If your question isn't answered in our Learning Center Articles then we promise there is an answer on our chicken forum.


Below are the absolute basics of raising chickens. For more detailed information please explore the rest of the site and join our forum



Why Raise Chickens?

  • Easy and inexpensive to maintain (when compared to most other pets)
  • Eggs that are fresh, great-tasting & nutritious
  • Chemical-free bug and weed control
  • Manufacture the worlds best fertilizer
  • Fun & friendly pets with personality (yes, you read that right)
  • See our poll on Why Do You Raise Chickens

Are BackYard Chickens Legal in Your City?

  • Search our database of local chicken laws & ordinances
  • Double check your local city / town ordinances and homeowner's association
  • Make sure you have a good relationship with your neighbors (the promise of no roosters and free eggs helps!)
  • Read comments and post your ?s in our forum devoted to chicken laws & ordinances.


Where To Get Baby Chicks & Chickens:


How To Care For A Chick – First 60 Days (I can't believe I didn't find this resource until today!):

  • You'll need a chick brooder – See our list of homemade brooders
  • Flooring – Pine shavings & corn cob bedding are best (I found straw worked best).  Stay clear of newspaper since it doesn't absorb well and can be slippery.
  • Temperature – 90 to 100 deg. for the first week, decrease 5 deg. per week. Be VERY careful of fire hazards (my chicks had a tendency to pant at these temperatures. They seemed to like it about 5 degrees cooler than recommended here)!
  • Food & water – chick crumbles / starter & a chick waterer (see our list of homemade feeders & waterers)
  • Play time – Play with your chicks when young to get the use to being around people.
  • More details: Article: How To Raise Baby Chicks –  Forum Section: Raising Chicks


Chicken Care After First 60 Days, General Chicken Care:

  • Chicken Coops – Once feathered out you'll want to move your chickens into a chicken coop!  Rule of thumb is about 2-3 square feet per chicken inside the henhouse and 4-5 sq/ft per chicken in an outside run. Keep local chicken predators in mind and make a safe home for your flock!
  • Flooring – Pine shavings work best.  You can even try the deep litter method for even less maintenance (once again, I find that straw works much better than pine shavings).
  • Food & Water – Most people go with formulated chicken layer feed / pellets. You can even make a homemade chicken feeder / waterer
  • Treats – Vegetables, bread, bugs, chicken scratch (cracked corn, milo, wheat)


Where to Go for Information to Start Raising Chickens

  • BackYardChickens.Com – is a terrific, comprehensive site focused on raising chickens on a small scale. They feature a learning center, links to great forums and message boards, coop designs, breed information, and a great photo gallery.

If you can't find what you need from the Backyard Chickens site or forum, here are some additional resources…I wish you luck!

  • Chickens 101 – offers basic information about raising chickens, starting with eggs, coop plans, chicken breeds, and more.
  • Chicken Breeds List doesn’t just list breeds, as their name might suggest. They also provide great information and articles on chicken care, breeding, and much more.
  • Raising Poultry – an information packed site that provides a broad range of information and resources regarding all aspects of raising poultry. A great place to start.
  • Poultry Production houses all of ATTRA’s publications on poultry.
  • Poultry One – offers articles and guides for getting started in raising chickens, and other poultry. The provide great information for the beginner, with lots of information and resources.
  • The City Chicken – “a web site to encourage city folks to take the plunge into poultry!” Articles, Laws, Brooding Chicks, Pictures…
  • Backyard Poultry – “A magazine dedicated to more and better small flock poultry.” The also have an excellent website with great information, resources, and links.
  • Chicken Crossing Forum – A very active forum with great information and answers. The site also has links, photos, a coop gallery, and a store.
  • Backyard Egg – “[Their] goal is to collect information related to raising a backyard poultry flock, providing Backyard Egg Lovers everywhere with simple and straightfoward information concerning their pets!”
  • Chickens on Camera is a fun website with lots of great information on raising chickens and farm web cams of chickens in ‘action’.



BOOKS and ARTICLES on how to Start Raising Chickens


Start Raising Chickens – Small Scale Poultry Processing:

a) General Information on Small Scale Poultry Processing:

ATTRA: Small Scale Poultry Processing Information

Killing Chickens at Home: Would you do it?

b) List of Mobile Slaughter Processing Units Currently in Operation in the US from Cooperative Extension:

c) More Information on Specific Poultry Units:

Kentucky Ag. Extension Mobile Poultry Processing Unit

Vermont Mobile Poultry Processing Unit

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (MA) Mobile Poultry Processing Unit

About Equipment for Mobile Poultry Processing Units

d) Mobile Processing Unit Videos from YouTube:

Mobile Poultry Processing Unit Video

NEFSI Mobile Poultry Processing Unit Video