My City Chickens

Just because you live in a city, don’t assume you can’t keep chickens. Many large and small cities across North America and Western Europe allow one to keep a few laying hens.

I have 2 chickens in my Chicago backyard. Keeping them is a rewarding experience with many benefits and little effort. If you have hens (female chickens) you’ll get eggs, even without a rooster (male chicken). Eating your own chicken’s eggs is a great pleasure. They’re as fresh as possible, the texture is more firm, and you know the chickens were treated humanely. Watching chickens as they scratch, peck, and strut can be quite fun.

Meet the chickens

Selma, Maisy, and Betty, my Red Star hens.

Clockwise from top left: Selma, Maisy, and Betty, my Red Star hens.

My original three chickens came to me as pullets (immature hens) in August 2007. They are a hybrid breed known as good layers and are called variously Red Star, Red Sex Link (because as chicks the males and females have different colored feathers), Golden Comet, and many other names. They all started laying in September 2007.

In July 2008, I added 4 more chickens to my household: 2 Delawares and 2 Ameraucanas or “Easter Eggers”. All came as day old chicks and were brooded seperately from the hens for several weeks, then introduced to them (slowly!) when they were 8 weeks old.

I expected these younger chickens to begin laying by January 2009. Unfortunately, not all 4 would turn out to be laying hens. Both of the Ameraucanas were actually cockerals (immature roosters) as evidenced by certain physical characteristics, including daily crowing.

I found a new home for Chicky Lou, and eventually had to get rid of Marshall since his crowing started to bother the neighbors. I lost Missy in December 2009 to an unknown condition, and then lost Speedy (the remaining Delaware) in May 2010.

City chicken keeping basics: two rules

First and foremost: check your city code to be sure that chickens are allowed. Many cities have their municipal codes available online; if your city does not, check with your local city clerk or library. You’ll likely find the details in the sections relating to animal care and control or zoning. If you call city hall and ask if chickens are allowed, do not assume that you will receive a valid answer. (Sad to say, but true.)

Second and nearly as important: be a good neighbor. This is a great rule to follow no matter what you’re doing. When you have companion animals living with you, it is a cardinal rule. No on likes living next to the house with the dog that barks all the time and the yard that reeks like a kennel long overdue for a cleaning. Likewise, no one wants to live next to a house with noisy, smelly birds.

Hens are usually quiet, although it is possible to have a noisy one in your flock. Like all living thing, there is variation in the population and some hens are noisier than others. Roosters are guaranteed to make noise. If your city allows chickens, it’s very likely that the code specifies hens only and bans roosters outright. Even if your city does not ban roosters, be sensitive to their impact on your neighbors.

Clean your coop and yard regularly and check for offensive odors. Good hygiene not only makes you a good neighbor, it is essential for the health of your chickens. Once you start collecting eggs, you’ll definitely want to keep the living area clean and tidy so you won’t have to scrape *stuff* off of the eggs.

It’s a good idea to check in with your neighbors occasionally about whether they have any valid complaints about your chickens. Do this while presenting them with some fresh eggs, and your chances of the conversation going well are increased!

These two rules pretty much cover everything that makes urban (city) chicken keeping different than keeping chickens in a rural area.

General chicken care

Just like you, chickens need food, water, and shelter. Feed your chickens a balanced ration that meets their nutritional needs. This could mean a commercially produced feedstock, or something you create at home.

Your chickens also provide a valuable service: they will eat your kitchen scraps, thus reducing the amount of waste you add to the local landfill. Chickens relish all sorts of scraps: vegetable and fruit peelings and seeds, leftover grains and grain products (like pasta, rice, and baked goods), and even offal and meat/fish waste (such as gristle, fish skin, and shrimp shells).

That’s right: chickens are omnivores, and much of their time free-ranging in your yard is devoted to hunting down and eating insects. You may feel squeemish about this, but it’s in their nature. They can get quite a bit of their daily protein requirement from seeds, but they also desire animal protein, even if it comes from bugs.

Many urban chicken keepers consider this a bonus: chickens eat all sorts of insects like spiders, earwigs, japanese beetles, ants, termites, and other creepy-crawleys that pester you and mess with your garden. They will attempt to catch winged insects, too, like moths and flys. If you want to *really* spoil your pet chickens, give them some meal worms or earthworms.

Chickens also enjoy many common weeds: dandelions, purslane, and crab grass, among others.

Be warned that chickens can be a garden pest as well as a garden asset. They find many plants that we deliberately put in our gardens quite tasty, too. Common ornamentals like hostas, and vegetable plants or fruits such as peppers, tomatos, and lettuce can be quickly mowed down if you give your chickens free access to the yard at all times.

Many chicken owners learn that while it’s a good idea to let their chickens roam their yard regularly, it’s best to limit the length of time. An hour or two just before dusk is usually plenty of time for them to stretch their wings and satisfy their curiosity. You may just want to keep your chickens in a dedicated section of your yard and just provide them with the garden thinnings and weedings, instead.

Do not let your chickens roam around if the yard is not fenced. Chickens don’t recognize property lines and will wander into neighboring yards, sidewalks, and streets unless contained. They can fly over short barriers, too, so fencing should be at least 5 feet high.

As for water, give your chickens fresh water every day and clean their water container frequently. For those of us in areas that freeze in the winter, there are special considerations.

When it comes to shelter, chickens are not picky. They would live inside a cardboard box if that was all that was available. However, they likely wouldn’t live very long or healthy lives in such a setting, so we need to make a bit more effort on their behalf.

My hens live in an Eglu, which is a stylish and convenient coop and run for keeping up to 3 standard-sized chickens.

My hens live in an Eglu, which is a stylish and convenient coop and run for keeping up to 3 standard-sized chickens.

Housing requirements for chickens are simple: dry, well-ventilated, draft-free, and secure. They don’t need artificially cooled or heated accomodations, but their house should be sound enough to keep out the wet (rain, snow, etc.) while allowing for good air circulation, and keep them safe from predators and pests.

Even in a city, predators are a problem. In any city, you can run into a stray or escaped dog. Such dogs can be big problems for chicken keepers, as they possess the size and strength to kill a chicken. Oppossums and raccoons are also present in many cities. Stray cats are mainly a problem for chicks or young chickens unprotected by a flock or mother hen; full-grown chickens can usually fend off a cat pretty well.

Chickens are not party animals. They go to sleep (roost) at dusk. This makes them very vulnerable at night, so be sure their coop is locked down tight against things that roam around after dark (oppossums, raccoons, rowdy teens, etc.)

The secure run where the chickens live inside their Eglus.

The secure run where the chickens live inside their Eglus.

When you clean your chicken coop and run, be sure to put the droppings in a compost bin or pile. Leave it for a few weeks or so and you can use it in your garden as terrific fertilizer. If you’re worried about odor, consult websites like your local university extension service for information on how to effectively compost. A properly balanced compost pile (correct mix of dry/brown and wet/green ingredients) will not smell.

Winter care of chickens

I live in a city that gets quite cold in the winter, so I get lots of questions about how to keep chickens in the winter months. This does require a bit more attention to detail than keeping chickens in the spring, summer, or fall, but not too much more. The main issue with winter care is making sure the chickens have an ample supply of unfrozen water to drink.

If you have a handy, grounded electrical outlet, you can buy or make a heating device that will keep drinking water warm enough to not freeze. Or, you can check your chicken’s water supply a few times a day and switch out drinking containers full of frozen water for those full of fresh, fluid (but not hot) water.

If your chicken coop is dry and draft-free, the chickens will do OK; if it is insulated, they will do even better. You can insulate your coop with standard materials (foam board, fiberglass, etc.) as you build it, purchase a coop that is already insulated, or add insulation as needed.

My chickens live in a purchased coop that is already insulated and I add a bit of seasonal insulation when it gets really cold. My seasonal insulation is dried leaves, collected from the trees in my and neighboring yards in the fall. All those bags of leaves are just sitting in the alley or at the curb waiting to be liberated and put to good use. Grab some and stuff them in a spot where they will remain dry until needed: in the garage, under the porch, or in the garden shed. Then when the weather has dipped down to the teens or lower (Fahrenheit), stuff the coop with leaves so your chickens can snuggle down into them at night.

General Resources

There are many resources, online and offline, to help you get started raising chickens in your backyard. Listed below are some of my favorites.

  • Backyard Poultry magazine is published bi-monthly. It’s a wonderful resource for learning about breeds, care, and history of poultry. They also have an online bookstore.
  • Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts is a volunteer-run site for backyard chicken keepers in the Chicagoland area. Resources on the site include links to model policies and laws about keeping chickens in cities and resources helpful to city chicken keepers. There is also a very active Google Group for CCE.
  • Eglu chicken coops by Omlet. You can construct your own chicken coop, or you can buy one. I don’t have good carpentry skills or much time, and I find the Eglu works well for my flock.
  • Henderson’s Chicken Breed Chart notes the qualities and characteristics of various breeds.
  • Keep Chickens! by Barbara Kilarski is written specifically for the urban or suburban chicken keeper.
  • Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow is the chicken keeping “bible” with loads of information on raising chickens from chick through maturity.
  • View more photos of my chickens and their home through Flickr.

119 thoughts on “My City Chickens

  1. hi,were english and living in norway,we have an eglu the same type as yours but green with only two hens,( given to us free today),theyre fantastic,the strange thing is that iv’e just built and filled then planted and seeded four raised beds almost identical to yours, it’s a small world..!!


  2. Hi,
    I was thinking of getting hens but our winters here are cold in New England. How do hens do in the winter? I don’t want them to freeze and was wondering if I need to do anything special to keep them warm.



  3. Mary, most standard breeds (as opposed to bantams or mini chickens) do just fine in North American winters. There are some breeds that are especially hardy; check the catalogs or talk with the people you are getting your chicks/chickens from to get their advice.

    Chickens need a dry, draft-free, but well-ventilated home all year long. As long as you provide them with a coop that meets those needs, they will do fine in the winter. The biggest challenge is keeping their drinking water from freezing.

    Most people who keep chickens through cold winters have electricity in their coop — or a handy electrical outlet — so they can plug in some type of device that keeps the water from freezing. You can buy several different varieties of these devices. I used an immersion heater made for bird baths because it worked the best with the type of water container that came with my Eglu.

    If you don’t have access to electricity where you locate the coop, you can do it the old-fashioned way and just refill their water container several times a day with warm water during the winter.

    My hens didn’t mind the snow and cold at all. Once they became used to the snow (chickens approach change a bit slowly) they were out and about the yard every day looking for stuff to eat.

    That’s pretty much how chickens spend their days year round: scratching, pecking, and looking for stuff to eat!


  4. We just took in a couple of chicks that were hatched in my daughter’s kindergarten class (I had been researching this for a while so it was great timing) and they have been a lot of fun. Today, however, while we had them outside for the first time they did something odd. After eating some oats from our hands, pecking at the grass and generally exploring for a few minutes they laid down in a funny way. It was on their sides, like they had fainted, not the way they normally sleep in the brooder. Then they would get up and peck again. Thinking they were thirsty, I tried giving them water. Eventually I just put them back in the brooder. Has this kind of thing ever happened to you? Also, I also have raised beds w/ berries and vegetables … do you only let the hens out while you can monitor their activity? Thanks!


  5. Hi, Allison! When your chicks laid down, they were probably trying to take a dust/dirt bath. This is a normal behavior for chickens and one of the ways they groom themselves. My hens do it all the time and have some favorite places in their run where the soil is nice and loose and they can dig right in and roll around.

    As for letting the chicks roam the yard, you definitely need to monitor their activity if you want to preserve your garden! Chickens pretty much like the same foods we do, so they will peck your tomatoes, eat your pepper plants (mine don’t like the actual peppers themselves so much, but love the plant), and eat the ripe berries. Also, their dust bathing activity can be pretty destructive, too. The soil in raised beds is often soft and loose: perfect for dust bathing.

    So, if you don’t want your garden to be too “hen-pecked” let them roam about an hour before dark (bed time for chickens) and watch them. If they get into something they shouldn’t, you’ll have to shoo them away from it or entice them away with a well-loved treat. You may decide to cover certain plants with bird netting or put some fencing around your beds to protect them, too. Recall that chickens *can* fly, though, and if the chickens really want to snack on something they will try to fly over a short barrier.

    Welcome to the fun of backyard hens! You and your children will enjoy having chickens, and when they start to lay eggs…well, it just gets better!


  6. Hi there,
    I just found this neat blog!

    Wanted to mention that if those chicks are still little they might need to be under the brooder lamp still for warmth (you didn’t mention their age). If it isn’t too warm outside, and if they are still little enough to need a high temperature, more than a short visit outside might stress them.

    But I’m thinking maybe this is an example of how little chicks sometimes just plop down and rest in funny ways? 🙂



  7. I was actually hoping you could help me out. I came across you blog while looking at the Eglu site. Chickens are banned within city limit here in DeSoto, IL and I am wanting to petition the board to overturn it. (They overturned a ban on pitbulls recently so I know they can change their mind lol) But I have no idea where to start. What kind of guidelines/rules does Chicago have? What all kind of paperwork do I need to check into/fill out?



  8. Stephanie,

    Glad to help a fellow backyard chicken enthusiast out!

    If you haven’t checked out ThomasK’s Urban Chickens blog yet, that’s a great place to start. He’s been posting about the efforts of others across North America who are trying to get laws changed in their communities to allow for chickens. Looking at the proposals of others can certainly give you a good idea on what to use in your approach, although you know your community and have to take the unique “flavor” into consideration.

    Here in Chicago we have NO rules about keeping chickens or any other type of “livestock,” believe it or not. The city code does explicitly prohibit the dyeing of chicks and ducklings [no pink, blue or green baby poultry for Easter] and the keeping of any animal “for purposes of slaughter” in a residential neighborhood. Now, exactly what this “purposes of slaughter” means is pretty vague: does it just ban slaughtering an animal in a residential area, or does it allow for people to bring their chickens, rabbits, etc. to a licensed butcher for slaughter, or does it outright ban the keeping of any animal you intend to eat? Most folks seem to prefer to not delve into the exact meaning behind this ordinance.

    Other than that, there is no other law on the books in Chicago specifically pertaining to poultry raising. There are nuisance laws that could be enforced if people aren’t caring for their chickens well, just as they can be ticketed for not caring for their dogs properly.

    If you look at the laws in other other towns, they basically have certain key elements to them: outright banning of roosters (to address the “noise issue”), restrictions on the number of hens, and requirements for accommodations. Some towns also require permitting and/or licensing, similar to how one often has to purchase a license for a dog. Permits may be required for the construction of housing, or to enforce certain standards for housing. The problem with licensing and permitting is that towns often see this as yet another thing they have to pay someone to review and enforce; the fees gathered rarely cover the costs of administering these things.

    Are there others in your community who would support you? Dog breed bans often fail or are over-turned because there are enough people in the community who object to them, and because they are not supported by national animal rights organizations. These same organizations may not be viable supporters for your efforts, but others may be. Do you have a local co-op? Folks who support co-ops are often more likely to support local food movements, and raising chickens can be looked at as a local food issue. What other allies could you have in your community?



  9. I’m so glad you’re posting, I live in an IL burb and want to raise a couple of chickens for eggs but didn’t know how others make it work. Thanks.


  10. Hi,

    If John and Linda Tye left you their e-mail addy when they commented, can you please ask them where they purchased their Eglu in Norway? I live near Oslo, and I don’t know where to get one. Also, it would be neat to talk to someone else living here who has one! I would like to have a couple of silkie chickens in mine, whenever I get it.

    Thanks so much!🙂


  11. So glad to find you! I’ve been considering a chicken run for a few months out here on the North Shore, and it’s darned inspiring to find you raising hens in the city! Keep up the good work and the blog, and thanks for inspiring us!


  12. Charlotte,

    I found my Red Star hens very hardy this past winter. Red Stars (alternatively known as Golden Comets, Cinnamon Queens, and Red Sex Link) are very good layers all year round. And, since they are a standard size breed, they seem to do well in the winter cold. Really hot, humid conditions are harder for them to deal with.

    If you’re looking for breeds known as extremely winter hardy, you can try Wyandottes, Orpingtons, Australorps, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire Reds, Buckeyes, or Chanticleers. The Chanticleers are very rare, but they were bred to survive the cold winters in Quebec. Any good hatchery should have the first 5 breeds listed. Buckeyes are a bit more rare, but not as hard to find as Chanticleers.

    My newest chickens are Delawares and Easter Eggers (mutt Ameraucanas). Both are standard-sized , and the Delawares are supposed to be very good winter layers.

    There are lots of ideas for coops you can build on the Backyard Chickens site. Check out the Forums on that site, too, where the dialog and advice in the Coop & Run Design and Construction thread is typically top notch.

    If you choose to buy a coop, you can do so through a few online vendors. I’m not certain if the Eglu is available in Canada, but a web search on “chicken coop” should bring up some options.


  13. Hi:

    Thank you for your website. I live in Chicago (lakeview) and am planning on ordering an eglu. I know they sell pullets if you want them but I would like a different bred. Any ideas on where I can order them?



  14. Hi, Ann-Marie!

    If you just want to purchase a few chicks, you have a few options.

    Visit a feed store that sells chicks. I recommend calling them first to see what sort of chicks they have. Many feed stores don’t have chicks at this time of year as it is not prime chick-raising time.

    Order from the online hatcheries that will sell small quanities of chicks. and Meyer Hatchery both have small order programs that allow you to order as few as 3 chicks. Most other hatcheries require you to order a minimum of 20-25 chicks at a time.

    Team up with others who are ordering chicks to meet the minimum order requirements.

    You can also check the local Craigslist for people offering chicks, egg incubation service, or even full grown hens. Over the course of this past summer, I saw at least 6 postings on Craigslist of people needing to rehome their chickens. Most of these were folks in suburbs that did not allow chicken keeping who got caught raising chickens illegally. They were looking for good homes and offered hens for free or at a low cost.

    Let me know if you have any more questions. So glad to meet another Chicagoan with an interest in keeping chickens!



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  16. I googled “stray chicago chickens” and found your blog! I just took a short walk in my neighborhood and saw 4 chickens in a remote-ish area (bordered by light industrial/ graveyard/ forest). I am concerned if they will survive the temps in February.

    I presume someone “dumped them off” thinking they can survive on their own..but they look very out of place, esp one black chicken pecking around some shrubbery near a parking lot.

    2 are white, and 2 are black. one black has a fancy feathered head. any advice??


  17. I’m part of a group working to legalize backyard chickens in Shorewood, WI, just outside Milwaukee. We have created a brief 10-item survey to gather info to help us respond to the concerns of our Village board. Please take the survey if you keep chickens in an urban or dense suburban setting, and please also share the survey with other backyard chicken enthusiasts:


  18. Very interesting.

    I’m in a Gold Coast condo now, and hoping to leave the condo ranks next year.

    If I’m able to find a house, I’m definitely going to get a couple chickens.

    (If I end up in a townhouse, I guess I’ll be stuck with the association rules.)


  19. Hi Linda,

    I’m a photographer in Chicago and I’m starting to work on a series on urban agriculture. I am doing this for my own enjoyment, to promote my work, and to learn more about the great “green” things people are doing in the city. I’m very excited about this project and I’m looking for someone with chickens to take a picture of. Next week, I’m taking a picture of worms (vermiculture) and in a few weeks, I have the pleasure of taking pictures of bees.

    Please let me know if you might be interested. I’d be happy to share some pictures with you.




  20. Hi Linda,

    I live in Oak Park and have had two leghorns since June. One was taken by a raccoon that tore the edge of the fencing and left a carcass. The remaining poor chicken is now terrorized on a nightly basis by raccoons. We have gone outside for a couple of nights to chase the varmints away. Have any advice on how to keep the predators out of your yard?




  21. Sign: umsun Hello!!! rcuwwymhyw and 7172ssgfhphzye and 3207I love your site. 🙂 Love design!!! I just came across your blog and wanted to say that Ive really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.


  22. Hello,

    My name is Katey Rusch and I am a journalism student from Northwestern University. I am doing a story about the Evanston Backyard Chicken Group. They are trying to make keeping backyard chickens legal in Evanston. However I would really like to talk to an owner who already has chickens and loves them. I think it would be a great part of my story. This interview would take long and it would really help out my class project.

    Please let me know if you are interested by emailing me @


    Katey Rusch


  23. You have some really beautiful birds. I am glad to see another city girl living out some country gal dreams. Raising chickens is a really rewarding many people just don’t realize how wonderful of pets they make!

    You have a really nice site!




  24. Hi, your article was very informative and helpful. I’ve been raising four hens and one rooster; two plymoth barreds, one black sex-link and one brown sex-link, plus an old english bantam rooster. I’ve enjoyed it so much that a week ago I purchased three two week old black cochin/rhode island red chicks. I also live in the city and have been making extra room to accomodate the new arrivals in the spring. by the time I’m finished I will have a 10’x19′ pen with two coops. By the spring I plan to add either sand or wood chips for a base. I truly enjoy the site and ideas.

    Thank you

    Bob sponhour


  25. hello,
    Hi, i agree with BOB you article is very imformative. I currently have some problems with my chickens living in my backyard. A police officer came to my home this morning and told my wife we have 7 days to get rid of our HENS. I am very disappointed to say the least. Where can i find some information about HAVING CHICKENS IN CHICAGO BEING LEGAL. I would like to print out the ORDINANCE LAW if POSSIBLE AND PRESENT IT TO ANY POLICE OFFICER that comes to my DOOR. pls HELP..


  26. Hi Linda,

    I’m a journalist for Urban Farm magazine, and I happened on your blog. I’m writing a story on grazing and keeping animals on small areas. I wondered if you’d be interested in weighing in with a few comments?

    If you’re interested, please contact me this week and we’ll arrange to chat over the phone.

    By the way, I live in NW Indiana. I go to Chicago quite a lot.

    Sharon Biggs Waller
    Freelance writer Urban Farm Magazine


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  29. Hey!
    I have a quick question about dogs and chickens. So my roomate and I keep 4 chickens in our backyard, we’ve had them for a year. They have a small coop with a run attached, and we also let them roam the yard for a few hours a day, the yard is pretty large. We compost most of the poop and hay in a compost barrel, and throw the rest directly on the garden. I was wondering if the poop was harmful to dogs? our neighbor across the fence from us just had a dog die. The vet told her it was possible that rats ate chicken poop, then her dog ate the rat poop, and contracted some kind of parasite from it. I imagine this came up because she mentioned we had chickens. We’ve had dogs in our yard, as people in the building have them and they’ve not gotten sick. Is this crazy? I’m a little worried. We are pretty tidy about the chickens though, we are not exactly flinging poop around. sorry this is so long! Let me know if you’ve heard of anything like this before. thanks so much,



    • Hi I’m from mexico we have about 50 chicken and roosters and have 5 dogs always around the chickens and some of them like to eat chicken poop and they are just fine I’ve had them for years now totally normal


  30. I like so many others found all your info. interesting and good to study before going into this Hoppy. I got 12 Isa Browns they are a mixture of R.I. Reds and look very much like on your Opening Chapter. I lost one to a cat but of course thought it to be a Fox. I was out, the Trailer and Car were outand my Jack Russel went with me as it always wants to come. By next morning I found a dissected head left on my dogs resting place near my BBQ. I did ask what could it be? I blamed the FOX but he would not be so cunning to leave me a calling card, would he? I did find feathers and was aware that I had locked all my Chooks up before leaving. I was only gone between 9.3o am and 6 pm. However I rounded some 3 Choocks that got out of a very quick erection of some light wire. I learned and improved it all since than.

    Your Site is well worthwhile and I can recommend it with many others but yours comes out very much to the top for Suburban Chook keepers. I like my Girls and count them every nicht. All eleven present and the gate and mesh accounted for. Than I have a very peaceful sleep with my dog. I hope you all have the same. This comes all the way from Australias Victoria and just under the snowline.


  31. Hi,
    I love your website. I have a hen problem right now. My Rhode Island Red, AKA Lucy, is all stopped up. We are afraid she may have an impacted egg. How do we find out? Her vent is fine looking. She has a clear liquid drip right now, and is just laying or standing all the time. She is not eating, and doesn’t seem to be interested in much water either. For awhile she was drinking all the time. We live in Texas, and our weather right now is in the low hundreds.
    Thanks for any help, Lucy & Oprah (Barred Rock) are our sweethearts.

    Joi & Jim


  32. This is an awesome intro to urban chicken keeping. I live in Minneapolis, and part of keeping the annual permit is having your neighbors stay happy, so I’m really glad you bring that up.

    For people who have the money, Eglu’s are cool. If you want to save some money or are just more of a do it yourself type, you can build your own coop.

    To get started
    Click Here.


  33. I live in the same zip code and have been thinking about having 2 – 3 hens myself for pets and fresh eggs but I don’t know the first thing about handling them. I’m wondering if you do any hands on teaching? I saw a loose black chicken on Cicero Avenue near the expressway last year and wanted terribly to pull over and save him/her but didn’t know the first thing about corralling one or how to pick one up. What do you do with your chickens if you go away for the weekend, do you need to board them or find someone to tend them?


  34. Thank you, Linda. Great site and so much information! I live in a Chicago suburb and got my chicks 4 months ago. I bought them as garden helpers and for their eggs. I really had no idea what a great pets they make! They are adorable! With their goofy, funny, loving personalities. The only problem is that 2 out of 5 baby chicks turned out to be roosters. What am I to do? I do love them…


  35. Hi! Just read through your blog and love all the great information you provide. As you will see in our blog, my daughter and I just started our hobby of back yard hen keeping this past summer. We are having a blast with it!

    Our hens just started laying, and finding that little treasurenof eggs each morning starts our days with huge smiles.🙂

    We live in Connecticut, so our hens’ water is freezing over night. Looking into solutions is how I found your site. Guess a trip to the local feed store is in order to look at water fountain heaters.

    Keep up the good work, and check out our blog when you have a chance. Would love to see a comment from you!


  36. I so enjoyed your post. I live in New York City and we are not allowed to have chickens within the city lines. Outside of the five boroughs you can. I would love to hae chickens and enjoy fresh eggs in the morning.

    I enjoyed your section about taking care of them, and also the part about checking in with your neighbors (with a batch of eggs lol). I will keep your blog handy if and when we move out of the city limits so that we can own and have chickens.

    When I travel, I can interact with them, and they are fun, and have a wonderful demeanor. I think that chickens make wonderful pets and can be very useful.


  37. Actually, it is legal to keep chickens in NYC. There are some articles that have been published about chicken owners in Brooklyn, which is one of the five boroughs. I’m sure it would be a challenge to keep them in Manhattan, though!


  38. Thank you so much for your response. As far as I am aware chickens are considered farm animals, and are not allowed to be kept within the city limits. I live in a Manhattan apt. so it would be impossible for me to keep a hen or two in the house, but should we move into somewhere different, then it would be a good deal for us. We cook with eggs so much, and I think that my little ones would have fun with them too. Where did you get the information that it is legal to keep chickens in NYC? I would love to read about it.

    Keep me posted! Love your blog!


  39. The exact code for New York City can be accessed here:

    There are actually organizations providing education and resources for those interested in urban farming in NYC — including raising hens. Just Food is a good example:

    And just for kicks, here’s a fun article about a girl who raised chickens *inside* her family’s Manhattan co-op:

    A Google search for “raising chickens in New York City” leads to some great reading!

    If I were in a typical Manhattan apartment, I certainly wouldn’t keep a chicken, though. Hopefully you’ll be able to move someplace with backyard and then fulfill your goal, Olubunmi!


  40. Pingback: New hens coming home soon « Kristin M Roach

  41. Pingback: The Little Woods Homestead: Chicken Run! « Kristin M Roach

  42. Hi Linda!
    This is such a great blog- thanks for it. I’ve become newly interested in raising chickens in my Logan square backyard. I’m super uninformed as of now, and have many questions on where to start. Any chance you’d be willing to give some guidance to a fellow chicken enthusiast? If so, I’d really appreciate you emailing me. Thanks so much in advance Linda.
    Sincerely, Nikki


  43. Your blog is great, thanks for sharing all the chix information. I live in Tinley Park and my husband and I have been contemplating chickens for awhile, and were looking into an eglu and attaching to a homemade run. Are your red stars friendly to handle, we have a 15 year old and 6 year old who I know would love to hold them? Our restrictions are to be 100′ from a neighbors house and i think we can swing it if we put the coop in the center of our backyard. I’d prefer it closer to the house, but I’m afraid to tick off the neighbors. Can you tell me where you got your red stars from? Did you get them from Eglu when you ordered your coop? Thanks! christy


  44. Just found your blog and like it very much. You have some good information about chickens and the pics are great too. I’ll be back soon to see whats happening with your city chickens.


  45. Hi! I have wanted to get chickens since I don’t even remember when. This summer, my dad said we could finally get some! Yay! I have a couple of questions about preparations and such, as I am a first timer. You said that you like Eglus as coops to house your chickens, but we don’t particularly like the look of them. Also, we have a big backyard in the country with lots of space, but we do live in the woods, (and where we are planning to put the coop does not have a fence) so therefore there are many predators, such as coyotes, foxes, raccoons, etc. What sort of a set up would you recommend to house the chickens? Also, our local farm has mature chickens, pullets and chicks. What do you recommend for a beginner? We are considering pullets, but is it possible to do a combination of two chicks and a pullet? Two pullets and a chick? Thanks! Your help is much appreciated.
    -Madeleine, 13


  46. So you’re the asshole with the fucking chickens in your yard. I’m sure your neighbors hate you as much as I do. I hope you get a communicable disease from those glorified rats.


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  51. I live in Indianapolis, and thought I would need to put my eglu and two hens into the garage for Dec, Jan & Feb. Maybe I won’t need to do that. I worry about snow and ice affecting how the eglu works, ie. the door mechanism, the door opening to the run, and the door to the tray. Do you add extra protection to keep the snow and ice away from the the mechanisms? Thank you for your realistic reply and encouragement! Mother of Helen ans Ruth


  52. Pingback: My Chickens Not Laying Eggs! | Plans For Hen House .com

  53. I’m a newcomer and very interesting in learning more about my chickens. I have 2 Ameraucanas and 3 baby marans, and 1 chantecler(I think).


  54. Hello everyone.. I want to say, that I am a Urban Chicken Coop builder/Chicken Supplier, I have built a few in the past and will continue to build them. I see this to be taking charge and moving along with more and more people interested in having a few chickens to supply eggs but also for the companionship. I currently live in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago but can travel to you to build, I can build at a remote site and deliver a finished product. I like the eglu idea, but a nice custom made Coop with an outside run can be designed and built, and no worry about the winter snow, wind, rain elements. If you are interested in knowing more, seeing pictures of what can be built or even to just talk and get some ideas, please don’t hesitate to email me. I will be moving into my new farm in the spring of 2012 in Southwest Wisconsin, where I will have free ranged, Ducks, Chickens, Rabbits, Turkeys, Quail, Guinea Fowl and Goats. I will continue to build Urban Chicken Coops for customers. Delivery fees would apply. I currently do not have any chickens on hand. I carry over 30 varieties of Egg Laying Chickens. I have taken the ones I have left to my cousins organic dairy farm in Wisconsin for the winter. I normally build to suit the customers needs and wants. Prices really range in what you want, supplies needed, waterers, feeders, bedding, feed.
    Nico Bryant


      • Susan,
        I do not have a website. Just an email address for now. Actually starting to build te website for my farm. So anyone interested in farm fresh meat and poultry but even live birds will be available. Pickup or delivery will be available with larger orders. But just let me know what you are looking for. I am expecting a batch of chicks out of the incubator this weekend.


  55. Just a note to people living in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The University of Maryland is hosting the Mid-Atlantic Small Flock Poultry Expo on February 4, 2012. It is a whole day of classes and activities targeted to people like us. I was excited to find out about it and plan to go. They have all the details posted at


  56. Oh boy ! Thanks for putting up your site about chickens. We live in Roselle and want to get some chickens. It will definitely drive my Golden Retrievers batty. I read some of your comments on politics and can’t agree with you there, but oh well…I can still love your site. I am 55 yrs old, driving my twins every day to Drivers ed, homeschool 3 children (the last of 6) , will soon be driving one boy to baseball, one girl is taking beekeeping (yes, my husband has bees and we ordered more), have 2 grandchildren…and I raise breed and raise Golden puppies. We also have fruit trees and a huge garden, so that also keeps me busy canning and freezing.


  57. hey this is a little obscure but my “friends” left a full grown chicken at my place and I have seriously no clue what to do with it. I can’t keep it I live in an apartment in Chicago. Was wondering if you know of any where I can take it that will find a good home for it?


    • Aj I can take your chicken if needed. Do you know if it’s a rooster or a hen. But if you still need to get rid. Please let me know. I can come get it. Whereabouts in Chicago.



  58. To anyone and everyone looking for chicks an chickens. I have some different breeds available already. I currently have Golden Buff Orphington’s, White Leghorns and Seabrights. Please remember they need to be kept warm at this young age. I am selling them but more important I want them to have all the luxuries while they grow. I feed a organic chick starter. Also a little sugar in the water. So if you can’t supply them with HEAT, water, dry place, good food. I can hold onto them and sell them at a different time. They will be beautiful birds. Sold as a straight run. Can’t be sure of sex. Please email with any questions or inquiries. I also build urban coops for your new setup.
    Nicholas bryant


  59. Pingback: The Dell Farm Blog » Blog Archive » Best Chicken Blogs | Chicken Keeping Blogs we read | Chicken Web Cams

  60. I have lived everywhere: In the city, in the suburbs, in the country and even in the tropics. Nothing stopped me from raising chickens! It’s certainly a pleasure to have met your lovelies!


  61. I have raised 2 Golden Comet chickens and have recently put them outside in a coop and was wondering if it is a sign of affection that one of them wants to jump on my back everytime im in the coop. I dont know whether to be scared oe happy!! Love your blog!!!


  62. My name is yesenia and I have a question…. I found a chicken in the alley. I have no idea what to do? We dont wanna keep it because we have a dog. Is there a place I can take it where they will take care of it? HELP PLEASE:)


    • I’m not sure if you’re the same person who posted a comment about finding a chicken the day before this. When a chicken is fully grown it is fairly easy to tell if it is a rooster because they will crow. If you found a young chicken, it may be harder to determine because physical characteristics can differ between breeds. You could try posting a photo on the Backyard Chickens Forums to see if someone can advise you on the sex of your chicken.


  63. no I am not the person who found a chicken but if she needs someone to take care of it, I could take it. I’ve been thinking about raising chickens for eggs and it would be a start for me. Susan


  64. hi. i’ve tried contacting you over twitter but i haven’t gotten a response from you. i dont know if you still check your blog but its worth a shot. my name is Tina and i am a college student. i am doing a research paper about raising chickens and i would like to interview you. i want to just ask you a few questions over email. i will keep your information confidential in my paper as well. i would really appreciate it if you can help me. thank you in advance.


  65. HI i live in Chicago. Edison Park. I meet a lady a few years ago and talked to her about this, I dont remember her name or how to get intouch with her so I will reach out to you. I “think” i have fianlly convienced my hubby to do this. We have our sons playhouse outside that we can easily convert to a hen house. OUr ? are how many hens do you need? How many eggs do they lay? is this weekly-dailey? How many times a week do you need to clean out there area. I would guess you would need an oversized kitty litter scoop(lol) to do this almost like when you clean horse stuff too…Do they need immunizations to help with any disease? Could we throw hay down in our winters to keep them warm? And also just fro ground layer? Where can we get them also? I do not want 25 of them but 3-5 be good. Also do all breeds get along?


  66. Hello everyone,
    I’m just responding to the posting looking for full grown hens. I am Nicholas “Nico” Bryant, owner and sole operator of Bryant Family Farms LLC in SW Wisconsin, some of you have might eaten at a restaurant in Chicago or even in some suburbs or bought my eggs in a local grocery store or butcher shop. Our eggs are delivered fresh within 5 days of being laid, you wont find a fresher source of eggs. I can guarantee that. But we also sell layers at times and depending on breeds available. If your looking for pullets that just started laying you can email me directly or you can even call or contact on Facebook. We build coops to order, an also supply the fertile eggs that are being found in Chicago area K-1 classrooms for the spring hatch Program. We will be offering educational seminars and farm tours shortly. Easiest way to follow is on Facebook.
    Nico Bryant


  67. I live in Arkansas right and we have a rooster, a banty hen, two speckled Sussex and four Buff Orpington hens. We are relocating to Chicago, inside the city limits. I want to bring about four of the hens with me and can’t wait to see our neighbors faces!


  68. Pingback: Allow Residents to Raise Chickens in Chicago - ForceChange

  69. I see an older post by Mary back in 2008. I also live in New England. I am interested in having chickens. Since it’s been a while, does it prove to be that cochins do well in the colder months?


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  71. Pingback: Raising Chickens in the Windy City : City Cluck

  72. You have a a great blog here Linda! Rearing chickens in the city is now becoming more popular, maybe because of the benefits and the value that people derive from having them as wonderful pets – great alternative/ addition for cats and dogs.I am enjoying your articles as they are very informative and fun to read. I will certainly be coming back and looking forward to your future posts.


  73. Pingback: Should I get chickens? | Putting in a good word.....

  74. we need a live rooster for a video shoot for Sauza tequila (he will not be harmed) we will be inside an office in Chicago — we will pay you — please call me if you can do this tomorrow 7/31/14 Steve @ 512-431-5987


  75. Great article! My chicken look SUPER similar to yours, but I have no idea what they are.. we got them from an egg farmer who decided to retire.
    Good info about raising chickens, thanks for sharing!


  76. Appreciating the time and energy you put into your blog and in depth information you provide. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information. Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account. ekaaddacfakc


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  78. Pingback: Keeping chickens in an urban environment | Newbies Bridge Club

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  80. Hi,
    My name is Paul and I have been keeping backyard chickens for six years. I am 67 years old. Recently, I have had TWO strokes and my wife is hiding all of the eggs from me, which is causing distress in our relationship.
    Does anyone know anything about taking Cholesterol medication and eating fresh eggs? I want to convince her this is ok, My doctor put me on Crestor, but I buy generic Crestor online. My wife is convinced this isn’t real medicine. Someone help!
    I just want my eggs!


  81. Great article! My chicken look SUPER similar to yours, but I have no idea what they are.. we got them from an egg farmer who decided to retire.
    Good info about raising chickens, thanks for sharing!


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