Backyard chickens for beginners

Friday, January 2, 2015 by

Fresh eggs and chemical-free meat are two good reasons to raise backyard birds. Keeping a small flock of chickens also provides plenty of nitrogen-rich manure for the garden and natural bug control for your yard.

Backyard chickens are common in rural areas, but chicken farming is becoming increasingly popular in urban areas. As a result many city ordinances have amended laws that allow residential coops. Most ordinances dictate a maximum of six hens, no roosters, and require the chicken coop be 15 to 100 feet from the house. Some require permits. Check your local regulations.

Determine which breed to buy

Hundreds of chicken breeds exist. Some breeds are better for meat, others for eggs. Mail order poultry catalogs identify several breeds as “dual-purpose.” My experience has been that the meat from dual-purpose birds is inferior to meat from broilers.


Different chicken breeds lay different colors of eggs. Interesting fact: the color of a hen’s earlobes tells what color egg it lays. Although all egg colors taste the same and contain the same nutrition, a multicolored carton of brown, green, blue and white eggs has a beautiful effect. If you have an egg color preference, choose a breed of laying hen accordingly.

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