Raising Chickens 101

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 areas of the site where you can scratch up even more details!


So, you are interested in raising chickens? Keeping a backyard flock can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby, one that is gaining in popularity as more people recognize the many benefits of having a "a pet that makes you breakfast"! You'll quickly experience how fun it is to have chickens as pets. We're happy to help as you embark on the fun and exciting journey of raising BackYard Chickens!

If you have chickens, you'll often be asked the question: "Why raise backyard chickens?" Most people know chickens provide delicious and nutritious 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:
  • Chickens are easy and inexpensive to maintain (when compared to most other pets—see what our members say in this poll: Chicken Keeping—easier, same or harder than dogs/cats?)
  • Their eggs are fresh, delicious and nutritious
  • They provide chemical-free bug and weed control in your garden
  • They are manufacturers of the world's best fertilizer (and they'll dig over the garden for free ;))
  • They can be fun and friendly pets with personality (yes, you read that right!)
  • They can be fantastic pets for children of all ages (and Kids with Disabilities Can Enjoy Chickens Too!)
  • See the awesome results of our poll on Why Do You Have Chickens?

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.

Before you take the plunge and buy your chickens, you'll want to choose the breeds that are the best fit for your wants and needs. When you're choosing, keep in mind your main goal in chicken keeping, and which breeds will do best in your climate. Here are some resources to help you choose:

There are a number of places you can buy chicks, older chickens and even fertile hatching eggs to get you started on your journey.
Did you impulsively buy a box full of chicks? ;) Or are you planning to get some fluffy little chicks 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
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!

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: