Backyard chickens aren't for everyone. Before you get started - take this quiz to find out if your ready.
Backyard chickens are a super-pet that give back way more than they take. They each have their own personalities, are cute and entertaining and great for kids. They are also the most useful pet around, turning bugs, weeds and kitchen scraps into highly nutritious eggs.
To get started you don’t need to be a farmer, have a large property or special equipment. With a small urban backyard and 10 minutes a day, you can enjoy a taste of the country life while living in the city. And if you want to grow your own food, chicken manure will bring your soil to life. Soil is the foundation of a healthy garden and healthy food. What more can you ask for from a pet!
I’m Marcus, the founder of patchtotable.com - which teaches busy people how to grow and cook Real Food at home - from Vegetable Patch to kitchen Table. Food that is free of chemicals, full of nutrients and super tasty! This brings together my passion for food and over 10 years experience as a sustainability consultant.
To start with, I’m sharing my system for happy, healthy Backyard Chickens made easy. For the past year, I’ve been developing and refining practical approaches to backyard chickens and sharing my journey with the world through Patch to Table. All my material has been tested in my own backyard, and is designed to be practical and super simple. I don't talk about "ecological design" and instead focus on providing information that gets results.
I got started with backyard chickens when I bought a small second hand coop that came with one lonely hen (a leghorn we named Cluck). I got Cluck some friends (Fletcher and Ruby). I was getting a steady supply of eggs and things seemed to be going along great. But it wasn’t long before some problems started.
The chicken feed attracted rats who had moved in and were multiplying like crazy. Before I knew it I had a family of rats living in my coop. There were so many rats that my chickens started roosting on top of the coop rather than in it.
I was busy trying to get rid of my rat problem and things got worse. I was woken in the middle of the night by a whole lot of noise coming from the chicken coop. I went out investigate and found a 2 meter carpet python wrapped around the perch and hovering above the chickens as if it was ready to strike. My chickens had a lucky escape that day, but I hate snakes and never want to deal with that again.
I also found out the hard way how effective chickens were at cleaning out garden beds. Those 3 little chickens trashed more garden beds than I would like to remember. Every time I thought I had the problem sorted, I got complacent and ended with a trashed vegetable garden. Looking back I'm not surprised, I'm not really sure what I was thinking with this fence around my garden bed. It not only looks terrible, but there is no way that fence was ever going to keep those chickens out. I really had no idea what I was doing. I was pretty close to packing it in - this wasn’t what I signed up for!
I knew there had to be a better way and stuck with it. After a lot of reading, problem solving and experimenting, I developed simple solutions that make chicken keeping easy. I learnt the hard way that chickens are way easier to look after and have a lot more to offer if you understand and work with their natural behaviours.
Fast forward to today and I have happy healthy hens, that make great pets and provide an abundance of nutritious eggs without all the hassles that previously came with it.
There's so much information out there, its overwhelming. And information by itself is simply not enough. This guide will help you get:
It can be hard to get started when you don’t know what you're in for. Learn the basics and get the confidence to get started straight away.
There's so much vague and conflicting information around - reading thousands of forum posts with conflicting opinions leaves you feeling confused and uncertain. Stop spinning your wheels and get started with clear, step by step instructions that are tailored to you and your situation.
Getting setup is often the hardest part. If you don’t know what you're doing it can take forever, you’ll end up with the wrong coop and it’ll cost you a bomb. The right advice will help you get setup quickly and avoid lots of hassles down the track.
I created patchtotable.com to share what I've learnt and make it easier for more people to get started with backyard chickens. I’m doing this to make a dent on the food industry and have a real impact. An impact on the lives of each and every reader and their families. And I’m certain that this impact will flow over to our community and our world.
Backyard chickens are gaining a huge momentum as part of the organic and urban food movements.
If we look back to the 1940s during World War II, half of the US population depended on home gardens for fruit and vegetables. This came to 18 million gardens. And many of these gardens included backyard chickens, which made up the majority of egg production at the time.
But with the Industrial revolution in the 1950’s, there was a massive shift from family farming to large scale factory farms. Commercial eggs became cheap and convenient to buy from supermarkets. At the same time, creative advertising and packaging kept alive the perception that these eggs were coming from family owned farms. The realities of factory farming were kept out of sight and out of mind. Chicken keeping even became illegal in many parts of the US, because of ‘health reasons’ or some may say to protect the poultry industry.
People are becoming more aware of the realities of factory farming. Aware that large corporations have manipulated our food to make the largest profit possible. Even though these profits inflict a great deal of suffering on chickens and come at the expense of our health and the health of our environment.
More and more people are taking action, which has resulted in a massive resurgence in backyard chickens. Its gained enough momentum to force dozens of major cities to legalise urban chicken keeping. More than 90% of US cities now allow urban backyard chickens. In Australia, backyard chickens are taking a chunk out of supermarket sales. Eggs laid in backyards across Australia are estimated to make up around 12 percent of total egg production.
Its a trend thats gathering huge momentum and I believe its part of a big shift in our relationship with food. Healthy food is the foundation of our health, the health of our families, the health of our communities and the health of our environment. Food is love!
Backyard chicken aren't for everyone. Before you get started - take this short quiz to find out if your ready for backyard chickens. This will help you get clear on the benefits and to identify any barriers to getting started. The rest of this guide will then take you through each of the topics in more detail, to deal with any doubts or uncertainties and help you get the most out of backyard chickens.
Getting started with backyard chickens can be overwhelming. There's so much information out there and so many options. Here you'll learn about everything chickens have to offer, so you can get clear on what you want to achieve and the best way to go about it.
It can be hard to get started when you don’t know what you're in for. Learn about the practicalities of chicken keeping and get the confidence you need to get started straight away.
Before you jump in and get started with chickens, you need to make sure your backyard is well suited for chickens, to avoid problems such stressed chickens, predator attacks and fines. And a little bit of planning will help you get the most from your chickens.
At this point, you’ve learned some of the key strategies that you need to started with backyard chickens. The next step is to jump in and start planning for your own chicken keeping system. By designing a system that works with their natural behaviours and needs, you'll avoid the common pitfalls and have happy, healthy hens that are easy to look after. And that means learning more advanced strategies.