The Mother Earth News Guide to Raising Chickens



My brother and I decided to get my recently retired mother set up with a small flock of her own backyard chickens, just enough hens to produce eggs for baking and eating. She lives in a small town - where it’s legal to keep chickens in city limits - and it was important for us to start at the drawing board to formulate a plan. Though I was raised with chickens, it had been awhile since I had cared for any of my own, and in the years since I’d kept chickens I knew there was tons of new ideas and info on keeping free-range chickens. I went about doing my homework, and the book I pulled from my shelf was Raise Backyard Chickens put together by the Mother Earth News crew. It answered a lot of the questions we had, and gave us a few creative ideas that made keeping backyard chickens even easier for Mom.

We needed a docile breed that would be quiet enough to keep in town, wouldn’t bother neighbors, and would also be self-sufficient free-range chickens. We also wanted a breed that wouldn’t be too big for Mom’s limited yard space, and would lay a decent number of eggs.


We wanted to be able to free range the chickens, which would be possible in Mom’s backyard, but a movable coop wasn’t ideal for her situation. We ultimately decided to go with an immovable coop with a spacious run and employ the deep litter method inside the coop. That way Mom wouldn’t have to move a chicken tractor every day by herself. She could let them out while she was home, and on days she would be away from the house, they would still have a good 20 square feet of fenced-in earth to scratch on. And the deep litter method meant the smell would never get too bad.

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