Are you thinking about starting a backyard chicken flock, but not sure if it’s for you? Let me introduce you to the world of backyard chicken keeping! Scroll down or click these handy links to jump to different sections:

Getting Started/Basics
Chick Care
Coops & Maintenance
Seasonal Chicken Care
Daily Life with Your Flock
Flock Health
All About Chicken Breeds

Getting Started Basics

Benefits of Keeping Chickens
Chicken Terms for Beginners
How Much Space Do Chickens Require?
How Much Time Do Chickens Require?
How Much Do Chickens Cost to Keep?
Researching local chicken by laws
Common Chicken Keeping Mistakes to Avoid
Feeding Healthy Chickens for Life
When Will My Chicken Lay Her First Egg?
Things to Consider Before Getting Chickens
What is a Broody Hen?
Why Do Chickens Dust Bathe?
All About Chicken Eyes
Combs, Wattles, and Lobes

Chick Care

Basic Chick Care
Easy DIY Brooder Box
Ordering Chicks in the Mail
Fascinating Chick Development Facts
When Can Chicks Move Outside
Introducing Chicks to Your Flock
Hatching Eggs with a Broody Hen

Coops and Maintenance

Designing the perfect coop
Dropping Boards for the Coop
All About Nest Boxes
Keeping Rodents Out of the Coop
Fighting Flies on the Farm
Deep Litter Maintenance Method
How to Make a Mini Coop from Recycled Materials
Deep Cleaning the Chicken Coop
photo tour of our chicken coops through the years
Natural Chicken Coop Cleaner

Seasonal Chicken Care

Top Tips to Keep Your Flock Cool This Summer
Helping Your Flock Through Molting
7 Tips to Keep Your Flock Happy All Winter
Six Ways to Keep Your Flock's Water from Freezing
Preparing Your Backyard Farm for Winter Weather
Preventing Frostbite in Your Flock
Supplemental Lighting in the Winter

Daily Life With Your Flock

Should You Add a Rooster to Your Flock?
Is free ranging right for your flock
What to do with aging hens
Chickens for Natural Tick Control
Integrating a Single Chicken Into the Flock
Fertilized vs Unfertilized Eggs
Raising Chickens and Ducks Together
How to Grow Wheat Grass for Chickens
Keeping a Farm Journal
How to Train Your Chickens
Being a good neighbor and farmer
Gypsy the Wanderer - The strange tale of finding where you belong
Top Six Herbs to Grow for Your Chickens
Gardening for your Pets & Livestock
The Hows and Whys of Fermented Feed
A Day in the Life of a Backyard Farmer
Make a Fun & Festive Garland for Your Chickens
How to get the best tasting eggs ever!
Five lessons we can learn from chicken moms

Flock Health

Assemble a Chicken First Aid Kit
Giving a Chicken a Health Exam
Vaccines for your chicken flock
Water Belly
6 Reason Healthy Hens Stop Laying Eggs
Mites and Lice in Chickens
Should You Worm Your Chickens?
Poultry & Salmonella
A Special Treat to Support Sick Chickens
Dealing with Death on the Homestead

All About Chicken Breeds

Chicken Breeds for Colorful Eggs
Six Chicken Breeds Perfect for Cold Climates
Best Chicken Breeds for Pets
Choosing the Best Chicken Breeds for You
Heritage Breed Chickens


  1. rhonda kaine says:

    Help! I have a sick hen. I just read your article but I’m lost. I’ve just adopted 2 hens, 5 yrs old, not laying anymore. I have had them in quarantine for 2 weeks now. One of them started looking sick a week and 2 days into quarantine. She is getting worse. Wet stool, looks terrible. Interesting thing happened. I noticed right away one morning that she was showing signs of not feeling well. Standing still,scratching ground slowly. I have them in a greenhouse. It’s cold here now but we had a mild day and sun was really bright. Knowing this could happen I checked on them and the sick hen was laying on the ground panting. The other hen was fine. It wasn’t hot, I think was just such a quick rise in temperature. Anyway I opened up the
    doors and she recovered. Her breathing normalized. Fast forward to day 3. I picked her up to put her in the box for the night and was heavy!! I thought she would weigh nothing after not eating for a couple of days. I think her previous owner was fattening her up. I got her the day before he killed his meat birds. Could her weight be affecting her? I noticed her comb was slightly bent when she arrived and I was concerned but she ate and acted fine for a week. Although it gradually bent to completed flopped over. Sorry this so long. Any suggestions?

    1. I’m glad you had them in quarantine so they couldn’t get your other birds sick – smart move! Do you have another area where they could be kept, a dog crate in a basement or garage maybe? I’m wondering if the hot humid air in the greenhouse is effecting them. Most chickens do fine in the heat, but humidity can be hard on their breathing. If the greenhouse is closed up, the ammonia from their droppings could be building to unhealthy levels. At the very least, I would leave every vent in the greenhouse open at all times. You say she was rescued from slaughter – is she a meat breed bird or was the farmer just going to process her as a layer that had stopped laying? It would be highly unusual for a meat breed chicken to reach 5 years old, they simply aren’t designed to live that long.

  2. Linda Tyner says:

    I have a hen with no upper bill. She cannot peck. She scoops pellets from the top of the feeder. Is there a way I can help her feed easier?

    1. aww poor thing! Sounds like she is figuring things out with scooping food though. Providing her bowls with feed deep enough for scooping is a good idea. You might also want to consider switching from pellets to crumble feed, it will be easier for her to scoop

  3. Nancy says:

    Hi Liz,
    I have 3 Call ducks, 2 female and one male. They will all be 7 years in May and july. Starting today Sunny, my one female is attacking Peeps, other female, and biting her in the neck. Ranger my male just stays out of it. Why is this happening?

    1. It’s hard to say – she could be reprimanding her for something or just reminding her who is boss. If she is just nipping at her and not pulling out feathers or breaking the skin, I wouldn’t worry about it and just call it sisterly squabbling. I hope she settles down soon!

  4. Kelsey says:

    Hi Liz!
    I just discovered your blog today, love it!! We have a lot in common. I would eventually love to start a small blog of my own, not with any major goals, but just as a way to show and explain what I do to my friends and family who don’t have a clue about gardening or chickens! I have no idea where to start, so I’ll make a point of following your blog more closely. ?
    Anyways, I wondered if you had ever tried keeping young chicks of different ages together? If all goes as planned, I will have a group of 4 week old chicks when my next flock hatches. I would of course give the hatched babies a couple of days to grow and strengthen on their own, but do you have any experience keeping let’s say 1 weekers and 5 weekers together? Ultimately I would like to introduce all of them to my existing flock (2years old) at the same time. I’m wondering if I can keep all the babies in one pen while the older girls get used to them. Thanks in advance!

    1. Welcome Kelsey! The blog is a lot of fun, I love talking about my little farm and have meet some really wonderful people 🙂 Keeping chicks that are a few weeks apart together shouldn’t be an issue. The bigger issue is when you introduce them to your older girls who already have an established pecking order. Keep an eye on the littlest ones when you introduce them to the older chicks just to be sure everyone is being good, but it should go smoothly. When you are ready to introduce all the chicks to your big girls I would definitely keep the littles in a separate pen for a while so the older girls can get used to them. I would also recommend introducing all the chicks to your big girls at one time, rather than separating them by age, to minimize the disruption. It’s always stressful adding new chickens to the flock (for them & you!) Thanks for joining us!

  5. Reese says:

    Never has a website been more helpful… Ths is great!

  6. Reese says:

    Thank you for taking the time to make all of this, you have made my research all the better! Please make more for the duck one, though. I am thinking of getting ducklings once I can support them. 🙂

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! I am working on expanding the duck section – they are so much fun! Sign up for my monthly newsletter so you never miss new posts! 🙂

  7. Amanda says:

    We are getting chicks and having them at our Barn… Is leaving them in a long stall okay? 😐 I do not want to hurt the babies…

    1. They should be fine! As long as it’s warm enough and safe from predators they will love having all that space!

  8. Bobby says:

    😛 I like chickens! I am getting some soon, this is helpful, thx!

    1. Glad I could help! ??

  9. Maya says:

    How do you feed and water chicks? And how do introduce food & water to the chicks? :\

    1. Hi Maya – feed stores will sell special feeders and waterers made for chicks (or you can buy them online). Usually they are sold as bases that you screw a mason jar on to. When your chicks first come in, you can gently dip their beaks in the water and feed and they take it from there. If you have a lot of chicks you only have to introduce a couple of them to the feed and water, the others will follow by example

      1. For more information on raising chicks, you can also check out my post on chicks:

  10. maya says:

    Thank you liz! <3 Cape Coop!

  11. Justin says:

    Do you need a rooster to get eggs or can hems magically lay eggs? We only want hens but I am worrying… 🙁

    1. Hens will lay eggs with or without a rooster – you only need a rooster if you want to make baby chicks! 🙂

      1. Justin says:

        Thank you!

  12. Perry says:

    Can my hens lay eggs without a rooster magically or do we need a boy? 😐

    1. No rooster needed, unless you want to make baby chicks!

  13. Perry says:

    Thank you, we do not want to breed. I was worried, but no longer! All girl is continuing. 🙂

  14. Patrick says:

    I have Birds of Prey around, but I still want chickens.. Should I put wire on top?

    1. If you can completely enclose your chicken run that is the best. Hawks and other birds of prey have no trouble taking down a chicken (we have lost a few to hawks over the years while they were out free ranging)

  15. when a chick is hatched in the incubator when is she old enough to joing to flock?

    do chickens need constant food or can they be fed twice a day like horses and dogs

    food left out brings rats!

    1. If you are mixing chicks into a flock of adults, I like to start introductions when the chicks are around 6 weeks by keeping them in an area they can see, hear & smell each other but are separated by wire. I let them live side by side for a couple weeks then let them free range together but keep an eye on them. Depending how they do together and if the big girls are being nice I might keep them separate at night for an additional week or so. You have to feel the flock out and see how they do together. Chickens really should have constant access to food during the day when they are awake. It is ok to bring the food in at night though to deter rodents. You should have water available 24/7

  16. Ashley Parent says:

    I have a hen that is all by herself….how do i introduce new grown hens to her? do I need more than one or can I introduce one at a time? Please help!

    1. I am sure she would love some company! She might be so happy to have a friend that she will be fine with introducing them. But she could also be defensive of her space. I would do it all at once and get it over with. If you want to add more than one hen, get more than one and introduce them all at once. You can read more about the process here

  17. Taylor Steinmetz says:

    Hello! I’m sad to say one of my chickens is horribly sick. We found her about an hour ago, and we thought she was dead. She was/is laying on her side not moving. She can’t pick up her head, the most she did was flap her wings when I tried to move her. Now she lays in a cushioned area in the coop not responsive: doesn’t move, eyes closed, breathing still weird, and some times barely twitches her legs.

    We’ve had her for 3-4 years and have never had problems before with her. Just a couple days ago she got in this funk for a week (mind you it’s the middle of summer here) and finally laid an egg. The egg was something I’ve never seen: has a soft shell but it had like a yellow calcium build up around it, and the inside was clear with water.

    I’m not sure if she has some sort of tract infection or what? My father refuses to take her in to a vet. I hope you have an idea? 🙁

    1. I am so sorry to hear your chicken is not doing well. Chicken will occasionally lay a soft or no shell egg. It usually means there is a calcium deficiency in her diet. It’s hard to say if that is connected to her current condition. Extreme heat can be really taxing on them so it could be that. They are also really good at hiding illnesses until it is too late to save them unfortunately. The best thing you can do is keep her comfortable. Bring her somewhere cool and shady if possible. Try to get her to drink some water. If you have any poultry vitamin or electrolyte supplements you should mix that in. If she won’t drink you can try using a dropper. Other treats you can try to build her strength are mashed bananas, plain yogurt or mealworms. I hope she pulls through for you!

  18. Amy Clay says:

    Hi we are new to chickens this year and we want to do the deep litter method this winter. We live in Minnesota and it gets very cold. My question is how do u keep rotating the litter when it freezes. Or does it stay warm enough that it doesn’t completely freeze. We have fourteen chickens.

    Thank u God bless!

    1. Hi Amy, sometimes if I forget to turn it for a couple days the top layer might freeze a bit. But as long as I am good about turning it daily it stays warm enough 🙂

  19. Shellie says:

    Hi. I have a Bantum rooster that’s about 6 months old. About 6-7 days ago, he started sleeping in the laying beds. 5 days ago, he started having a hard time walking and was falling to one side. I separated him from the flock. Whenever I open the door to check on him, he tries to escape but falls over. He’s drinking and eating but isn’t very mobile and lies on his back a lot. He almost acts paralyzed on one side. I started giving him vitamin e oil in his food and fed him some pumpkin. I’m not sure what to do because he hasn’t gotten any better or worse. Please help! Thank you.

    1. That is not a good sign! Do you know if he was vaccinated at the hatchery you got him from for Marek’s Disease? It is a fairly common chicken disease that can cause limb paralysis. It is VERY contagious (among chickens) so definitely keep him separated from the flock. You would have to take him to the vet to get him actually diagnosed, and unfortunately it is fatal with no cure. The only other less dire thing I could think of if you don’t see any obvious injuries would be a neurological issue. I had a chicken once that needed a really high protein diet (lots of meal worms!) or she would start doing odd things like limping or walking backwards. Very strange, but somehow keeping her happy with meal worms always seemed to help. I wish I had better advise for you – but definitely keep him separate and give him lots of good food & maybe grab some electrolytes for his water (you can usually find this at the feed store) and see how he does.

      1. Shellie says:

        Thank you. I think we’ve come to the conclusion he has a broken leg and maybe a wing. We still have him up and he’s eating good. Hopefully it has started to heal. Thanks again!

  20. Debra says:

    my buff had been acting strange and falling over when standing, we soaked her feet in a shallow tub of cool water and investigated her feet. We found a few very tiny thorns from the rose bush in their area. I have since knocked off all the thorns. I have crushed a calcium tums for her, but not sure how to give it to her. She is now walking much better and eating with her mates. My birds are just past 15 weeks and have been worried about pre-egg issues. We have them on transition and lay feed.
    Please let me know how to treat her with the tums.

    1. Hi Debra! I know we spoke over Facebook but thought I’d answer in case other people have the same question. I usually crush them up and put a pinch or two directly into their beak to be sure they are getting it. But as you questioned, you can also dissolve the powder into water and deliver it that way

  21. Hello!!
    What a beautiful farm! What kind of rabbit is your angora? How can I get one as cute as that! Do they all have no fur on the nose ?

    1. Thank you! My angora is an English Angora – there are several different breeds of angoras, some of them have clean faces with short fur and some, like English, have facial fur. But they pretty much all have just very short fur on their noses. You can read more about the different breeds here:

  22. Mainak says:

    The pictures are awesome, We use to breed chickens in our backyard but we were not professional. I hope to visit your place sometimes. This reminds me of my childhood.

  23. Hello thanks for the great advice.
    I’m looking to get 2 mini Appleyard ducks. I’m wondering about them laying eggs, will they lay and when do I take them. Also do they go broody if eggs are left too long ?

    Thanks in advance x

    1. I haven’t raised bantam ducks, but I am sure they will lay eggs. My standard size Appleyard is an excellent layer. The bantam eggs will just be smaller. You will want to get in the habit of collecting them daily. Seeing a nest full of eggs could make them go broody, but sometimes they go broody even when you are collecting daily. I usually collect eggs in the evening when I go to close the birds up for the night.

  24. Oh this list is so big and useful! I have been an owner of horse farm in Alabama for almost 20 years now. And last summer I just wondered “why don’t we have a chickens on our farm?” But I thought if I know everything about horses it will be easier with chickens. I was really wrong about that. So thank you for this list. It really helpful for beginners like me.

    1. I am so glad I could help! 🙂

  25. Luke says:

    I am about to get 6 chicks and I have five fully grown hens, and wanted to know if they would raise the chicks and take care of them without harming them?

    1. The only way they will take care of them is if you have a broody hen that has been broody for at least a couple weeks. If that were the case you could try to sneak the babies under her and she might think she hatched them (warning this doesn’t fool every bird, so be ready to rescue the chicks and raise inside if needed). Otherwise, they will definitely attack and possibly kill the babies. You can read more about letting a broody hen raise babies here: and you can read more about the safe way to introduce your new chicks to your existing flock here:

      1. Luke says:

        Thank you so much hopefully I will be successful!!

  26. Susan Dalo says:

    Do you sell fertilized chicken eggs?

    1. I do – but all my chickens are different breeds so the resulting chicks would be mixed breed. You can email me at for more info

  27. Anna Rose Grandfield says:

    Hi Liz, I have a quail who has lost the movement in her legs, she sits down on her tummy all day and I bring food and water to her. I am worried about water belly as I just lost another quail to it, she died while the vet was draining her. She is laying soft shell eggs but seems to be ok. Do you think she has the same does not seem to be breathing heavily?

    1. Can you feel a fluid “sac” area in her abdomen? That is always the giveaway with water belly. If she doesn’t have that, it’s likely something else. Soft shell eggs can be caused by a lack of calcium so you can try offering some crushed oyster shells. If you give them a lot of treats or table scraps they could not be eating as much layer feed as they should which can also cause a calcium deficiency. The other common cause is stress – she could be sad from loosing her friend. Does you have other quail or is she alone now? They feel much better living in a group so you might want to consider getting her some friends.

  28. Nikki James says:

    Hi Liz. I’ve found your advice invaluable over the last 18 months and I’m hoping you can help again. We have a flock of 10 hens and a cock. On Wednesday I noticed that one of the girls didn’t get off the perch as usual when I opened up. We had to go out for the day and I figured she would get down when she was ready. When we came back she was out with the rest of the girls and I didn’t think any more of it. But the same happened Thursday and this time I had to make her get down. I watched her all day and she barely ate or drank and kept herself away from the others, usually hiding under a chair, and slept a lot. By Friday I was really worried as the same thing happened. Quite by chance she pooped in front of me and I could see the poop was alive with worms. I immediately bought some liquid dewormer and have started all of the flock on it. Because our sickly girl has not been drinking we have been administering the water via a syringe into her mouth every two to three hours. Yesterday we were able to tempt her to eat a little bit of cheese, some pasta and a few leaves. I’m not sure it was the best diet for her but we are getting desperate. It’s now 48 hours later and I can’t see much of an improvement – she is still sleeping lots and won’t voluntarily drink and so we are now giving her small amount of the water with the dewormer in every one to two hours. At the same time we are giving her some food – similar to yesterday but I’ve also added a boiled egg and some melon seeds and she has definitely eaten more today than yesterday. She stops when she has had enough. I did try grapes and tomatoes, also a favourite but she rejected these. Her poop was initially very runny. On Saturday morning we saw a dead worm in it but haven’t seen anything since. Today she has been pooping a little more regularly and the last one was a lot more solid. But I’m very concerned that she is still so lethargic. Part of me thinks it may be down to the fact she has been very ill, possibly for longer than we realised and also because of the lack of food. But I also thought that she perhaps might have responded more quickly with the impact of the dewormer. It’s just over 48 hours since we started the treatment and the bottle says we should continue for 5 days. In your experience when might I expect to see some improvement? Am I doing the right thing in feeding her and is there anything better I might be able to tempt her with rather than egg and pasta? When I have bought a small ‘treat’ out to the other girls (to make it easier to separate them) she does show a little interest in coming over but is very very slow and cautious and it all seems like too much effort. I’m trying to be encouraged that she hasn’t given up but my husband thinks that it’s just wishful thinking and that if she is no better in a few days we may have to consider what might be kindest to her. I’m also concerned as to what to do after 5 days of the treatment if she is not better – do I continue it or just carry on with water and food? We are in rural France and so taking her to a vet is not really an option here due to the culture. Any advice would be gratefully received. Thank you.

    1. Nikki James says:

      Hi Liz. I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to look at the message above yet, but our girl is still no better today. We are continuing with the regime of giving her water and food. She liked some melon seeds yesterday evening and so today I bought some sunflower seeds for her. She has had a couple of grapes, the seeds and some meal worms – having turned her nose up at the pasta and egg today! Her comb is still red but she is so wobbly on her feet and when she does walk it is more of a waddle. She is still sleeping loads. She is managing to get herself up on to the perch at night still although we are having to get her off. She is pooping regularly and still no more sign of worms. Whilst there are small solid bits of green in the poop it has been a lot more watery today, quite creamy and sometimes yellow. Once it looked a little frothy. I’m starting to wonder if the worms are a red herring and if she might be egg bound? We don’t want to subject her to a bath and prodding if unnecessary and so would really really welcome your thoughts as we are running out of ideas. I’d be very grateful if you could suggest something given she hasn’t been right for almost a week now. Many thanks. Nikki

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