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How to Get Started With Backyard Chickens

Chickens 101: Your family guide to keeping hens

Becca Hedlund

Published on: May 11, 2020

How to Get Started With Backyard Chickens

child with chick

Getting started: frequently asked questions

1. What breed should we choose?

It’s all about talent, looks and personality. Chicken breeds come in all sizes, shapes, colors and styles, from tiny bantams with feathered feet, to “furry” silkies, to Polish breeds sporting “big hair” that any ‘80s rock relic would envy. Most breeds lay brown eggs, while some lay white eggs; then there are hens that produce olive, green, blue, lavender or pink-hued eggs (depending on the bird). 

  • If you’re looking forward to fresh eggs every morning, be sure to select breeds developed for egg production. 
  • If you're looking for "designer" eggs, be sure to select breeds that lay the color eggs you're interested in.
  • If you're looking for a good pet, choose a breed based on temperament. Read up on the traits of breeds to get an idea of what you’re looking for. Realistically, though, your options for breeds are limited to the chicks available at the nearest feed stores. 

2. How many chickens should we get?

Chickens are sociable creatures. Never get just one chicken; it would be very lonely. Two is better so they can keep each other company. Three or four is a nice number for your small flock, and likely the store's minimum requirement for purchase.

3. Do I need a rooster to get eggs?  

Hens lay eggs whether there’s a rooster around or not. The eggs just won’t be fertilized without the rooster. Besides being illegal to keep in most cities, roosters crow all day long (not just at dawn), a sure way to make your neighbors murderously unhappy.

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