Admit it. You’ve been tempted to get chickens. They’re cute, you get fresh eggs—what’s not to like? But there’s a major intimidation factor, since it’s not like you can just swing by your neighborhood pet store to pick up chicks and supplies. That’s where Robert and Hannah Litt of Portland’s Urban Farm Store come in. They wrote the book—literally—on raising backyard chickens. Robert talked to us here at TakePart about his advice for chicken newbies.

by Max Follmer 


Raising backyard chickens isn’t very difficult once you get everything set up. Essentially, you need to provide them with a place to live in your yard, which includes a coop—or the house the chickens will live in—and a run, which is a fenced-in area that will contain them in the part of the yard you want to give over to the chickens. Both will also provide protection from predators—the run from daytime predators, and the coop from nighttime predators. And it’s where they’ll go to sleep and lay their eggs. I tell people to start planning by looking at their yard, by figuring out if they have the space for this, and also to check with their city or other municipality to make sure that it’s legal.

The typical flock is three chickens—they are social animals; you can’t just have one—and the minimum space for three chickens is a coop that would be about a three-foot cube, with a four-foot by eight-foot run. Now that’s a very small run; I would much rather see something on the order of 10 feet by 10 feet for a run. But that coop size would be ample, as they’re just going in there to sleep and lay their eggs. But anything smaller than that and you’ll be cleaning it out all the time.

Really the day-to-day chores are pretty minimal. I liken it to being about as difficult as a cat. You’re putting out food for them each morning, you’re checking their water and then just letting them out of their coop. They’re pretty much on their own all day; they don’t need a lot of supervision as long as everything is safe for them. Then in the afternoon or evening you come back and collect the eggs and make sure they’re in their coop.

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The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start and $ucceed in a Farming Enterprise
by Joel Salatin
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