Beginners Guide to City Chicken Keeping

For the longest time, chicken keeping was considered as an activity only possible in wide open, large acre spaces. Eggs were something you only sourced from the grocery store and waking up to a Rooster was something that only happened in the countryside. The idea of keeping chickens is now evolving and with it are many misconceptions that are easily debunked when it comes to raising these feathery friends in the city! If you’ve been hesitant on how to welcome a flock to your backyard space, then we encourage you to follow along as we share everything you need to know to begin your backyard chicken keeping journey in the city!

City Ordinances

If owning chickens has been crossing your mind lately…then it’s important to first know if your city will be accepting of your future flock first. To find out if your city codes allow backyard chickens, we recommend visiting https://library.municode.com/. Simply select your municipality and search for the term ‘chickens’ to see if there are any restrictions in your area. Sometimes you may find that some locations will allow hens, but prohibit owning roosters, which is okay if you don’t want fertilized eggs! It is also important to speak with your HOA to further ensure that your backyard flock will be allowed. 

Note: A common misconception is that Roosters are needed in your flock in order for your hens to lay eggs. This is not true! 

Neighborhood Predators

Dogs:

Unlike the countryside, predators are not much of a concern in the city. The most common and curious coop visitor will likely be your dogs. Although they may pose a danger to your flock at first, with a little bit of training your pet can become one of your flock’s best protectors. 

Raccoons:

If raccoons are an issue when it comes to your trashcan, they may also pose an issue to your flock. Raccoons are curious critters and will not hesitate to visit your backyard flock. A secure latching system is crucial to protecting your flock from a nightly visit from your curious neighborhood raccoon. 

Note: Worried about predators digging around your coop? Visit our Predator Proofing blog post for great ideas and solutions. 

Best Chickens for the City

Depending on your backyard farming goals, you may choose to start with a small flock. For most beginners, a beginning flock of 2-6 birds is a great start. Before you start putting together your dream flock, it’s important to know which birds will best be suited for their backyard environment. Below we’ve put together our favorite and most popular beginner birds that are perfect for backyard spaces. If you prefer to raise your flock as chicks, visit our blog post “Your Guide to Ordering Your First Backyard Flock” for help on how to begin. 

Barred Rock: Excellent brown egg layers with a calm temperament

Easter Eggers: Colorful egg layers that are quiet, yet active

Speckled Sussex: Cold climate strong and calm

Australorps: Quiet and gentle breeds that don’t mind staying inside their coop for long periods

Brahmas: Beautiful large chickens with feathers on shanks and toes

Rhode Island Reds: Hardy, curious, and friendly to be around!

Silkies: Known for their fluffy plumage, will happily raise ducklings and even poults

Note: Chickens will always make some noise. Especially when they lay an egg or see a possible danger. 

Backyard Space

If you plan to let your flock out to forage, then it’s important that your backyard space is safe. Do you have any plants in which you would prefer your flock to avoid? Does your entire backyard have a fence or a majority of cement? Do you have a pool? 

If you have a growing garden, having chickens can be both a great and complicated addition. Your flock will help eliminate any gardening pests, like grasshoppers, who can wreak havoc on your precious greens. If you have fallen fruit, your flock will clean up before the fruit can turn into mush. If you need an extra boost of fertilizer, your flock’s run area can be a source of organic help. However, it’s important to note that your flock also enjoys a good flower and vegetable salad if available. Therefore creating a protected space is necessary to maintain a balance between your chicken and gardening goals. 

Having a fenced-in backyard is a must to prevent any nuisance calls from your neighbors. Although chickens can fly, they will stay in their backyard space if kept occupied. If your flock’s curiosity worries you, then we would suggest training your flock to understand when treats are available. You can train chickens, like other livestock, to immediately return when you call them, encourage this behavior with treats and you will have a flock that comes at your command.

Chickens love to dust bathe, therefore leaving areas of sandy dirt is necessary to allow your flock to do what they love. Additionally, keeping chickens near your cemented space may prove to be a hassle when cleaning their stained droppings. If you have a pool, make sure your flock doesn’t have unsupervised access, although they are able to swim, chickens, unlike ducks, do not have feathers that secrete the oil needed to remain dry, causing them to become waterlogged and drown. 

Our chicken keeping experience says 4 ft2 per hen is an acceptable number for healthy averaged sized hens that are caged 100% of the time and for things not to get too smelly. Space for chickens is a very, very personal decision that takes in factors of perceived humaneness which we of course cannot measure. If you plan to consider free-ranging your flock, then it is important to think about the mentioned space precautions and considerations. Additionally, each of our coops has a recommended coop space that can be found on our coop and egg capacity chart

Pros of Keeping Chickens in the City

Aside from enjoying fresh and organic eggs from your backyard, there are a number of positives that come from raising chickens in the city.

Food Appreciation.

Often times we forget where our food comes from, especially when it comes to the foods we often enjoy. Owning a backyard flock brings a certain awareness and appreciation for nature that is provided by owning and raising a backyard flock.

Community Education

Depending on your neighbors, your backyard flock may spark some interest and curiosity for those who have never considered raising something other than a dog, cat, or fish. Sharing what you’ve learned with them can be both inspiring and interesting to them. Additionally, if you ever find yourself with excess eggs, you can always share them with your neighborhood friends.

Entertainment

Have you ever wanted to encourage yourself or possibly your children to enjoy their time outdoors more? Chickens will create a type of environment that is both peaceful and entertaining. You’ll quickly find that not all chickens are the same and that each flock member will have a unique and fun personality. Watching chickens catch grasshoppers or use a chicken swing is something so simple yet entertaining to watch.

We hope you find this article helpful as you start or continue your backyard farming journey! If questions regarding anything mentioned in this blog post, reach out to us at 877-741-2667 or email us at support@roostandroot.com.

We’re real people and always happy to help!