These days, people are really getting closer to their food source – whether for fun, community, food safety, or environmental impact – and that means lots of homegrown veggies, herbs in the kitchen windowsill, CSA’s and farmer’s markets. The next step for many people right now is… raising chickens!

Back yard chickens are a great fit for many gardens

Back yard chickens are a great fit for many gardens

That’s right, chickens – from rural side lots to urban back yards, chickens take up little space and provide fresh eggs – that’s food so “local” that it doesn’t travel further than your back yard to your sauté pan. Droppings in wood shavings can be added to your compost bin, or if your chickens are free-range, can be left right in the yard where they fall!

All of the above notwithstanding, raising chickens might be worth it for the entertainment value alone. Whether kept for eggs, meat, or just as pets, chickens are a fun addition to the yard. When we aired Episode 115 Living Homegrown Fresh in Season One, one element of the show that resonated with our viewers more than we expected was Theresa’s city chickens. Charlotte the Polish hen nearly stole the spotlight, and let’s just say we won’t be surprised if she gets her own show.

In this episode, Theresa and Joe talk about how anyone can get started with raising chickens, which includes checking your local ordinances, a little research into breeds, where to get chicks and how to care for them, building or buying a coop, and what it takes to care for your chickens. Chef Nathan cooks up delicious, fresh eggs three ways: fancy shirred eggs for brunch, quick scrambled eggs, and perfectly “over medium” fried eggs.

For more information:

*Unfortunately, since this show aired, The City Chicken is no longer available. Google your local county laws about keeping chickens in your backyards.

*Links related to books and merchandise are affiliate links


Growing A Greener World is a national gardening series on Public Television that features organic gardening, green living and farm to table cooking. Each episode focuses on compelling and inspirational people making a difference through gardening. This gardening series covers everything from edible gardening and sustainable agriculture to seasonal cooking and preserving the harvest.

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  1. Cathi says

    I loved the backyard chicken show, but you might want to let the audience know that the coop with bells and whistles is about 2000 dollars!! I looked at their website and diggled to see what a stripped down version would be–still over 1600! Ours looks very similar, is 4×8 feet, has the nest boxes on the short end, 12linear feet of roost, a wider people door, and was constructed out of new materials for $300! It can be done. If anyone wants pics, they can email me at We made a miniature version with 36×48 run for baby chicks, for about $150…

  2. says

    You built a coup for chickens on this episode using 4 x 4 plywood sheets and elevated it on concrete blocks. Where could I finds the plans to this. Is it available off your website. I couldn’t find it. Thanks

    • Ed says

      I grew up on a farm in Southern Africa where we had more predators including reptiles that can shrink through any openings just to get to your chickens. Cement/concrete floors and brick walls (about 2/3 feet high really helped. The top part was anything from chicken fence to screens made with strong materials and with tiny holes for air, sunlight etc. Roofs were from galvanized steel sheets ( other options available too). Hope this will help.

  3. Deanna says

    Hi I live in Iowa and my big problem was coons and my own dogs I now have electric fence around everything 3 strands high and haven’t had any problems all winter. I also have guinea fowl that are alarms for the chickens and eat all the ticks in the yard they are very loud and can be anoying but are good pets and fun to have around too. They also lay good eggs and have a variety of colors in the birds, very pretty.

  4. says

    Please advise: my sister-in-law recently lost 14 chickens thanks to a raccoon invasion. What do y’all do to protect your chickens from predatory critters? She lives in a very rural area.

    • Jerrilynn says

      We live in the Sierra foothills and have raccoons, hawks, foxes, and other predators. Having a big brown dog in the yard helps. She’s a big baby and wouldn’t hurt a fly, but the predators don’t know that. They just see/hear a big barking dog & run in the other direction. Also, if a person keeps their chickens in a coop/run type setup, it’s best to use hardware cloth rather than chicken wire and to bury it in the ground for 12 inches all the way around the run, as many predators (especially raccoons!) are diggers & will do anything to get to the chickens. Raccoons are also notorious for reaching through chicken wire and grabbing a chicken and just pulling the head off & eating that and drinking the blood, so 1/2-inch wale hardware cloth is the way to go if you have raccoons that actually come up into your yard.

  5. Jerrilynn says

    We have many, many chickens in our yard. I’ve lost count, but I think we have something to the tune of about 15 mature chickens and another 25 or so that are still youngsters (i.e., the girls have not yet reached POL–point of lay). We take about 10 minutes in the morning for feeding and watering, and about 15-20 minutes in the afternoon for feeding, watering, and poop-scooping. Ours are all free range, and they hang out in the trees during the day and eat all the buggies in the yard and give me lots and lots of yummy eggs. We have 7 girls right now that are laying, and we are getting 4-7 eggs a day. The only time the care of the flock gets really involved and requires a lot of effort is if one of my birds gets sick or injured, and we have had to cull a few sick/injured chickens in the last couple of years since we started keeping them. They are EXTREMELY entertaining to watch, and my 3-year-old grandson gets the biggest kick out of coming to Mema’s house and helping me collect eggs from the bock-bocks, then coming in the house and making a yummy, fresh breakfast. OH, and I make the absolute BEST quiche, and I just use the old tried-and-true Betty Crocker quiche lorraine recipe…. the only reason it’s so much better is because of the eggs. I would love to see more people enjoying chickens of their own.

  6. says

    What else besides scooping a handful of pine shavings into the coop is involved with cleaning? I’m sure there’s much more to it than that.

    • says

      Haven; I see your point – I’d truncated a much longer statement about food value and proteins, I see it no longer makes sense. I’ll amend it. Thanks!

        • Jerrilynn says

          Neither stupid NOR untrue if you eat the chickens you raise. Various factors need to be taken into consideration including the breed (for example, cornish cross chickens, which are traditionally those available when you go to the store and buy chicken and are what many people raise as meat birds, are very expensive to feed and raise… whereas free-range chickens tend to eat plants, grasses, bugs, etc., and in the long run cost less to feed/raise). Without first-hand experience at something, it’s a little on the “not nice” side to call anyone else’s experience “stupid” or “untrue”. Shame on you. Not everyone’s experiences are the same.

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