F.A.Q. about the backyard chicken boom
April 11th, 2012
12:30 PM ET
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We chatted about backyard chickens live on CNN Newsroom with Suzanne Malveaux this afternoon. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about the growing trend.

Q: Will having a backyard chicken reduce the cost of eggs for my family and me?

A: This varies wildly depending on the way you decide to house them (a do-it-yourself coop or pen versus a fancy Egglu) and if you decide to feed them chicken feed, organic chicken feed, kitchen scraps or allow them to be free-range. You should also factor in how many chickens you or your neighbors have, since buying bulk can reduce the cost a tremendous amount.

Try this handy chicken cost calculator and explore a few ways to reduce expenses.

Read: Can You Actually Re-coop the Costs? and Urban Chickens: Frugal Fad or Pricey Pastime? and Are backyard chickens profitable? A cost per egg comparison for more insight.

Q: If I'm not saving money, why would I bother?

A. What you're really paying for is the knowledge of exactly what your chickens are eating (and what's going into your diet), assurance that they're both humanely treated and not as susceptible to conditions plaguing factory farms (poor hygiene, battery cages, and infection that leads to salmonella), and better tasting eggs that haven't traveled hundreds of miles to get to you.

Chickens also produce excellent garden fertilizer and provide an incredible lesson for the young people in your life about where their food comes from.

Q: Who else is taking this crazy ride with me and who can help me when I get stuck?

A: You're hardly alone in this effort because there are 128,012 members of the forums at backyardchickens.com, a chicken hotline at mypetchicken.com (or 888-460-1529), publications like Backyard Poultry (distributed nationally in an average of 75,000 copies per issue) and Chickens magazine.

Not only are local chicken raising communities popping up in towns and cities around the country - there's also Andy Schneider, better known as The Chicken Whisperer, just a click, "like", tweet or podcast away.

Q: So what are some other things to consider?

A: Your local laws (and neighbors) may not be chicken-friendly, and it's vital to check beforehand.

Consider your attention span and level of commitment. Are you willing to keep a hen after her egg-laying years or are you ready to humanely dispatch her or eat her?

Does your lifestyle support having chickens? Do you have children, pets, a sitter or feeder for when you're gone?

Can you afford to feed, house and keep up their quarters?

A few fun facts:

Chickens come in an incredible variety of breeds, plumages, sizes - and they produce eggs of all different hues and sizes. Some chicken breeds are so tiny, they can be kept in an apartment.

Chickens have personalities, just like dogs and cats, and they can live well over a decade.

Nope, contrary to popular misconception, chickens do not need a rooster to produce eggs. While they're not totally silent, at least they won't be crowing at the crack of dawn.

Previously – Backyard chicken farmers say egg harvesting is all it's cracked up to be and Backyard chicken farming makes a comeback

See all egg safety information on Eatocracy

Watch CNN Newsroom weekdays 9am to 3pm ET and weekends. For the latest from the CNN Newsroom click here.

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Filed under: Backyard Chickens • Content Partner • Eatocracy TV • Food Politics • Local Food • Television • TV-CNN Newsroom


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  12. Deb

    My husband want to buy chicks this year. We live in a community and are not allowed to have farm animals. (Even though chickens are not considered "Farm" animals). If we get caught with chickens we will get fined.

    April 16, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • KD

      You sure those are the kinds of chicks he wants to buy?

      April 17, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  13. KP

    Raising chickens at home is not a good idea. Just in case, in times of bird flu epidemic, etc; culling and control of spread of disease will become very difficult and could become very dangerous for people. Having animals, meant for food, in a centralized locations is a sensible thing...

    April 16, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • ThaGerm

      This response sounds like it comes from a person with NO experience in the subject matter; rather, a phobia that they wish to pass on to others. If I am wrong, please post some sources or let us in on your extensive credentials in farming and virology. What, no experience in either farming or virology? Noooo, you don't say. No really please DON'T say.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
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  16. John

    More and more communities are allowing people to have a few hens for eggs. Fresh eggs are much better than the ones that have been sitting in the grocery store for weeks. Some of you city folks sound like you might have to start seeing a therapist once your neighbors start raising chickens.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • ThaGerm

      Classic! This post cracks me up for all the right reasons! Amazing how many people with no idea of what they are talking about or experience at all in the subject matter feel we need to hear their opinion. Simply Amazing!

      April 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  17. Joyce

    My chickens are great company and they furnish me with good fresh eggs. I am a widow and I enjoy watching my chickens every morning while I have my breakfast coffee. I live in the country so my chickens do not bother other people. Try it you will love it yourself.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  18. abbydelabbey

    check out your community's laws and regulations about farm animals ... you'll find out that in many communities you can't have chickens or goats or sheep or horses.....

    April 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • ThaGerm

      Most places don't consider chickens farm animals and are not put in the same category as, well, everything else you mentioned. Nice, um, try...not really.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
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