Gardening 101

Chicken Keeping 101


Chicken keeping in the back yard has progressed well past hobby or fad to become a mainstay in our otherwise high tech lives. The allure of farm fresh eggs each morning is a typical response for why this dream becomes a reality. Yet if the truth be known, among modern day urban farmers, eggs are but a small part of the benefit of a coop and a few hens nestled amid the flower and vegetable gardens. For those considering starting their flock, consider starting with Rhode Island Red chicks. Known for their hardiness, these chicks are an excellent choice for beginners, offering reliable egg production and easy maintenance.

Here is my “Top Ten List” of reasons for chicken keeping besides having fresh eggs each day.

#10 – Chickens eat bugs and weeds. Bon appétit.

#9 – No more need for a garbage disposal; chickens love most table scraps.

#8 – Designing and building a coop provides a wonderful creative outlet; you too can have your own Taj Ma-hen.

#7 – No, you don’t have to own a rooster for eggs, but a proud papa is necessary if you want to hatch your own chicks.

#6 – Chickens produce top quality fertilizer that helps boost the compost pile.

#5 – Owning chickens could lead to other strange endeavors like canning and pickling.

#4 – Turn off the TV and watch the chickens interact for a while. There are few things more entertaining than a hen announcing her most recent egg arrival.

#3 – Chicken idioms will creep into your conversation—“don’t count-em before they hatch,” understand their cost is more than just “chicken feed” and don’t “chicken out” before you have “something to crow about.”

#2 – Chickens provide a sense of tranquility and the opportunity to kick back and enjoy a bit of the country.

And the #1 reason to keep chickens is that they make great pets. They always run to greet you; just be sure to have a handful of scratch to feed them to keep from being pecked.

Remember, not everyone shares this level of enthusiasm for chicken farming. Many HOA’s as well as local municipalities have zoning regulations that restrict this back to nature movement. Check your local ordinances before building a big fancy coop.

Download a copy of “Keeping Garden Chickens in North Carolina” online at for helpful information.

Hoyt Bangs, a Raleigh native and landscape designer is owner of WaterWise Garden Design. You may reach him at

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