The Basics Of Raising Chickens

So, you are interested in raising chickens? Keeping a backyard flock can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby, one that is rising in popularity as more people recognize the many benefits of having a backyard flock. In addition to owning "a pet that makes you breakfast" (by providing you with fresh eggs) you'll quickly experience how fun it is to have chickens as pets. Before you know it, you'll quickly find a bunch of additional benefits as you embark on the fun and exciting journey of raising BackYard Chickens.

BYC (BackYardChickens) has TONS of fantastic information on all aspects of chicken keeping, combined with a wealth of experiences and knowledge shared by our community members. If your question isn't answered in our Learning Center Articles, we promise there is an answer on our chicken discussion forum.

The information below will help you begin your journey by covering the basics of raising chickens. We'll link to other sections of the site where you can scratch up even more details!
Why Raise Chickens?

Many old and new chicken keepers are frequently asked this question. Most people know chickens provide delicious eggs, but don't realize the many other benefits that come with having your own backyard flock. Here are some of the most common reasons to raise chickens:

Are BackYard Chickens Legal in Your City?

Before you take the plunge and start your own flock, make sure chicken keeping is allowed in your town/city and make sure you understand the ordinances applied to your specific area.

  • Here is an introduction to Chicken Laws and Ordinances (and how you can change them)
  • Search our database of local chicken laws & ordinances
  • Double check your local city/town ordinances and homeowner's association
  • Make sure you know if you require a "set-back" (distance from your coop to property lines, fences, buildings, etc.) before building your chicken coop.
  • Raising chickens (and life) is generally easier if you have a good relationship with your neighbors (the promise of no roosters and free eggs helps!)
  • Read comments and post your questions in our forum devoted to chicken laws & ordinances


Where To Get Baby Chicks & Chickens

There are a number of places you can buy chicks, older chickens and even fertile hatching eggs to get you started on your journey.


How To Care For A Chick—the First 60 Days

Did you impulsively buy a box full of chicks? ;) Or are you planning to get some soon? Here's a quick rundown of what you'll need:
  • You'll need a chick brooder—see our list of homemade brooders here.
  • Or put together this brilliant Mama Heating Pad for the little ones.
  • Flooring—pine shavings & corn cob bedding are best for brooders. (Stay clear of newspaper since it doesn't absorb well and can be slippery underfoot for the little ones.)
  • Temperature—90*F+ (in the warmest part of the brooder) for the first week, and then decrease it roughly 5*F per week. Be VERY careful of fire hazards!
  • Food & water—you'll need chick crumbles/starter and a chick waterer (see our list of homemade feeders & waterers)
  • More information can be found here: Article: How To Raise Baby ChicksForum Section: Raising Chicks

Chicken Care After First 60 Days, General Chicken Care

Before you know it your little fluff-balls will be tiny, feathered dinosaurs and you'll be inspecting the nest boxes daily, waiting for that first egg!


What's Next?

Now that you've skimmed the basics, you might be ready to dive deeper into learning more about raising backyard chickens. We suggest the following:
Learning Center Index:
  1. Getting Started Raising Chickens
  2. Hatching Eggs & Raising Chickens
  3. Housing & Feeding Your Flock
  4. Maintaining A Healthy Flock
  5. Other Fowl (Other Poultry Types)

Further recommended reading:

Advice from our members for chicken owners

Chicken FAQs - The Frequent Asked Questions Of Raising Chickens