Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thinking about backyard chickens?

As people hear more reports of contaminated food and worry about the ethics of factory farming, they want to take control of their food in whatever way they can. For many this means starting a garden, and for more and more, this means having a small flock of hens in the backyard. However, myths abound! Sadly, this misinformation slows people down or stops them entirely from having their own fresh eggs.

Myth #1: I can’t have chickens because I live in town.

Not so fast! Have you actually checked your city’s municipal codes? Many are available online. Cities such as Chicago, New York, Austin, Minneapolis, and Portland, Oregon, allow chickens. And in cities where chickens were not allowed, such as Madison, WI, and Wake Forest, NC, citizens have been getting the laws changed.

Myth #2: You need a rooster to have eggs, and roosters are noisy.

Although roosters can be noisy, you do not need one to get fresh eggs. Hens lay eggs, even if a rooster is not present. However, if there is not a rooster present, the eggs will be sterile and won’t hatch.

Myth #3: Chickens have diseases.

Chickens are not inherently sick, and if they are kept in clean conditions, they rarely, if ever, become sick. They are the healthiest animals on our homestead. If you’re still concerned, buy day-old chicks from a hatchery whose stock is certified free from diseases.

Myth #4: Chickens stink!

This usually comes from someone who lived or worked on a factory farm. You would stink too, if you had half a square foot of living space. Chickens do not stink. Mountains of chicken poo do stink. Three or four chickens do not create mountains of poo like thousands of chickens. In fact, your chickens will provide you with some great fertilizer for your yard or garden, in addition to the great eggs.

Myth #5: Chickens have lice, and they’ll give them to my children.

Okay, I admit this one slowed me down for a few years when I heard it. However, there are a few hundred different species of lice in the world, and most are host specific, meaning that chicken lice don’t like the taste of humans. And again, chickens don’t hatch with lice. So, unless your chickens are mingling with other chickens (at a poultry show, for example), the odds of them getting lice are pretty slim.

In fact, chickens are a great ally against bugs. We're especially grateful to our chickens for keeping down the mosquito and tick population on our farm. After nine years of having my own fresh eggs, I don't think I can ever go back to store-bought again. They taste so much better, and I know they're safe to eat. And there is also the entertainment factor -- chickens in the yard are just plain fun to watch!


  1. I can't wait until we can have our own chickens. Thanks for this post!

  2. Nice Myth Busters, I just recently seen something in the new about some city wanting to ban chickens because they believe it spreading diseases to children.

    I just think they should do more research behind what is actually causing the problem instead of just banning chickens all together.

    I have chickens on my own, only four, but I would hate to have to let them go.

  3. Yea I here these myths all the time as well. I run a chicken blog at and also try to debunk the myths people have about chickens.


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