Backyard Chickens for Beginners

Backyard Chickens for Beginners is a straightforward guide for keeping a flock of chickens in your backyard including tips and troubleshooting.

backyard chickens in a coop

At our city farmhouse, we keep a flock of 6 chickens which technically are considered backyard chickens. But living in the city or country really doesn’t make a difference when it comes to keeping chickens. It’s one of the first things you can do to become more self-sufficient on any property you own. Not that we are aiming toward self-sufficiency here. However, it is nice to be able to live on any property and produce something from it that can benefit your family.

It’s a huge misconception that chickens need a large area or that you can only keep them on a farm. A small corner of a backyard will suffice.

Our little homestead sits on 1/3 of an acre and is within the city limits.

The Decision To Keep Chickens

At the time I was thinking of getting 3 baby chicks from the local farm supply store. A thought I now have basically whenever spring rolls around and the bins at the supply store are filled with those fuzzy little cute chirping babies. Who can resist, right? But right around the time I was considering this a friend on Facebook had posted that she was rehoming her flock of 6.

I saw the post and initially thought it was far too much for me to take on. So naturally, I called her and bought them. A part of my personality that I would say has served me well.

Within a matter of days, they were placed in my yard. Coop and all. I built them their run with a makeshift style door using a hollowed-out peg from the hardware department and a tomato stake. Like any good homesteader, I repurposed spare fencing I had left over from a garden project.

To be completely honest I was nervous about the whole thing. I continuously peeked out the window, scared they were gonna be a nuisance to the neighbors somehow or worse, a burden to us.

The learning curb was not anywhere near what my research had let on to. There are so many posts and articles written about keeping backyard chickens these days that it sort of gets overwhelming. I have come to realize that people tend to overcomplicate things.

Keeping backyard chickens is a worthwhile endeavor that is not complicated in the slightest.


So here we are with 6 chickens and no roosters. I am not at the point of wanting to breed and raise meat birds. But that is a whole other side to this that could be very beneficial to some. 

Each day they produce anywhere from 3 to 12 eggs for us. If you keep count, they can lay up to twice a day. Just yesterday I scooped up 12 of them out of the nesting bed. I also decided to keep a compost pile right inside the chicken run which has been a totally genius thing to do.

First of all they love to scratch through it every single day so mixing the compost pile is not necessary! And let me just also add, when they are doing all this scratching about, they also leave their droppings in there to mix around too adding in a great nitrogen addition to the pile. They break down everything in a matter of days! It’s amazing! 

a compost pile in a chicken run

**Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through the links I provide (at no cost to you).

Basic Care for Backyard Chickens

Everyday of mine begins exactly the same way. Me headed out to the chicken coop to let the girls out of the coop, I feed them and check their water. In the evening, around nightfall, they go inside the coop on their own and I just pop on out there to shut the door behind them.

This protects them from predators while in their coop at night. But really all of this takes about 5 minutes of my time. I keep their food in a Rubbermaid bin with a lid right outside the run to make things accessible.

Cleaning the Coop

About once a week I like to rake through the run to push the droppings to the compost pile in the corner. I also clean out their nesting bed by removing the straw and adding fresh after. Another quick chore that seems to be overcomplicated on the internet. It consists of me taking a tray out and dumping it in my compost pile. Placing the tray back in and simply topping it with fresh straw. A total of 10 minutes of work I’d say. You can use straw or pine shavings. Both are sold in farm supply stores right along with the chicken feed.

backyard chickens in a coop

Pest Control For Backyard Chickens

If you are worried about mites or parasites on your birds grab a bag of Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) and you can throw a few scoops of it in the run for them to scratch at and roll around in.

It is extremely important that you use food grade Diatomaceous Earth as using the other sort is for pool maintenance and not to be used on animals. The chickens love to scratch and peck at it when I do this. This allows the birds to naturally care for themselves in the prevention of parasites. This is a great cost-effective way to keep your birds free from mites.

Possible Issues

Chickens Getting Loose: This was one of the biggest worries I had about keeping backyard chickens. I had heard all sorts of terrible stories about them escaping, digging up garden beds and being impossible to catch. All of those stories are valid. But I have found that it all begins with proper fencing.

Proper Fencing: I use a four-foot-tall fence to enclose the entire coop area. It is made with T-posts, zip ties, and a roll of 4 or 5 ft tall garden fencing.

Clipping the Wings: When I first got the chickens I also clipped their wings with a pair of scissors every 6 weeks or so. I found that cutting one side only was more effective. In this way, it doesn’t even them out. If you clip one side, they have a much harder time getting over a fence. Again, if you have proper fencing, you won’t need to do this extra step.

It is my experience that younger birds and improper fencing are the causes of so many issues. If you know that upfront, then you can avoid those issues altogether. In short, set up your run with proper fencing and you can avoid the frustration of escaping chickens.

Other Issues

Mites: Mites and parasites can be avoided by using diatomaceous earth in the run and sprinkling it around the coop. Make sure to use food-grade diatomaceous earth as this is safe around the birds. A good rule of thumb is to do this after cleaning the coop and run weekly. I use just a few scoops to sprinkle around the floor of the coop and the run. The birds like to scratch around it and roll themselves in it which is perfect as this will help them stay mite free.

Chickens Pecking: Chickens do peck each other from time to time but if you notice that some of your birds have wounds or bloody feathers from being pecked by the other chickens this is likely a space issue. Make sure the run and the coop are of adequate size for your flock. Chickens living in cramped quarters tend to peck at each other and a clear sign they don’t have enough space is when you notice excessive pecking.

Benefits of Keeping Backyard Chickens

Fresh eggs: For the work of a few minutes a day and giving up a small amount of space in your yard. You are rewarded with farm fresh eggs. The beautiful basket of fresh eggs sitting on my countertop, always filled and ready to be enjoyed is something that never gets old.

Reduce Food Waste: Keeping backyard chickens is also great for reducing food waste as chickens love to eat food scraps. So I keep a bowl next to my sink for the scraps. Since having them nothing goes to waste.

a basket of chicken eggs

Good Company: Backyard chickens or chickens rather, are sweet creatures who come running toward you whenever they see you. They love snacks from the kitchen and even fresh weeds or grass as treats. I love to hear them from my garden. Working away and announcing their eggs for the day. They are curious, docile, and social birds that love to be right next to one another.

Provide Compost: Their droppings and dirty bedding are great additions to a compost pile if you keep one. Their poop is high in nitrogen while the bedding is a great carbon addition. You can learn more about keeping a compost pile here.

backyard chickens in a coop
chickens in a compost pile

Keeping backyard chickens has been one of the best additions to our city farmhouse and one that I know is worth keeping. In fact, come spring we will be adding a few new babies to our flock. I hope you have found this post helpful. If so, I would love to hear how it’s going.

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know how your flocks doing!

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Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade

Chicken Coop

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Cute Egg Collecting Apron

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*Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through the links I provide (at no cost to you).

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