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A Practical Guide to Keeping Chickens – Resources and Questions

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A practical guide to keeping chickens, resources - ohlardy.com

A while ago I took a little poll on Facebook.  I mentioned that we were planning a series on Chicken Keeping and wanted to know your questions!  We had a great response and I took notes.  Hopefully, I answered most of your questions throughout this series.  However, there were still a few specific questions that I wanted to make sure to address.

So, without further ado, here is what your inquiring minds wanted to know:

Can I keep pheasants and chickens together?

  • No, chickens and pheasants can not be housed together.  Chickens can carry some diseases that Pheasants can't tolerate.  (source)

How do I integrate my flock?

  • There are many answers to this question.  Personally, if I introduce a grown hen to my already existing flock, the best way to do it is gradually.  I typically keep the new hen separated, but visible, from the flock.  The hens get a chance to check out their new roommate, and the new gal gets to see what she is up against.  No matter how gradually the new hens are introduced, there will be some pecking order business to figure out.  To help prevent pecking, I use a product called Rooster Booster.  This is a lotion that I put on the hens feathers that deters the others from pecking her.

How do I hatch chicks using broody hens?

  • I found a very thorough and informational thread about this topic over at Backyard Chickens.  Please go check that out if you are interested in using your broody hens to hatch some eggs!

Which breeds do I cross to get sex links?

  • Sex linked chickens are an easy way to determine sex when chicks hatch!  Without getting too much in to genetics and stuff, I will refer you to this post that goes in to depth on breeding sex links.

Where can I find non-GMO chicken feed?

  • In Phoenix, I order my non-GMO chicken feed from Phoenix Organic Feed.  It is the cheapest feed I can find.  My best advice would be to call around to your local feed stores and find out who sells organic feed.  If they don't perhaps if enough interest is generated they will start to carry what you want!

Do chickens make the yard dirty?

  • If your hens are allowed to roam free in your backyard, they will poop all over it.  They will find places to take dust baths (like my rosemary) and walk on your plants.  I haven't had too much plant destruction, except for the rosemary.  But I do have poop everywhere.  Lots of patio hosing!

Do chickens destroy the yard/garden?

  • Like I said above, they will walk over everything.  And if they find something tasty, they will eat it.  However, they can be great for a garden.  If you let your hens into your garden an hour before the sun sets, they will do some good scratching and pooping, but won't have enough time to totally destroy it as they will want to get to bed before dark.

Do I need a rooster to have hens that lay eggs?

  • No rooster is needed to get eggs from a hen.  If you want chicks, however, you will need a rooster.

Who cares for the chickens when we go on vacation?

  • I actually have a house sitter that I hire to come stay at our home when we leave town.  She takes care of all of the pets, including the chickens.  If you don't have any other pets, perhaps a friendly neighbor can come over to check for eggs and make sure that they have food and water.

Will they jump over my fence?

  • Standard sized chickens are too heavy to achieve sustained flight.  However, they are able to clear a 6 foot fence if they feel they need to.  Most chickens want to stay close to home, though, so I don't worry about chickens leaving my yard.  I have only had one hen fly over our fence and that was because she was escaping our dog who was trying to get her.  I found her in the alley wondering where the heck she was.

Will they drown in my pool?

  • Maybe.  Chickens aren't too smart and they certainly can't swim.  A friend of mine has a net over her pool and I don't think her hens have wandered on to it.

Do they need more food than veggie scraps?

  • I would say, yes, they need chicken feed along with your veggie scraps.  The chicken feed is balanced for optimal health.

Do they need a coop?

  • A coop is desired since hens like a sheltered place to sleep and lay eggs.  However, if you don't have a coop, your hens will find a place to sleep and lay eggs.  A coop provides the best protection from predators and elements and your gals would be happy with one.

What do I do with a sick chicken?

  • I would separate any sick hens from the flock for rest and quarantine.  Some apple cider vinegar in the water, fresh food, and a quick google search with my hen's symptoms would be in order!

How do chickens get fed naturally when snow is present?

  • Continue to feed your hens with chicken feed and scraps!  Don't coop them up in the winter, they will still like to go outside!  While some hens may be picky about the snow, some might not care.  They will still forage like they always do and may get lucky with what they find!  I have heard of someone who would grow grasses in his greenhouse for his hens during the winter.  There are ways, you just may have to get creative.  Have you ever grown fodder?  It is really fun and they LOVE it!

How do I know if the chickens are hungry?

  • Your hens will run up to you and follow you around.  They will cluck and squawk and practically beg you for food.  You will know when it happens.

How do I keep chicken's feet dry and healthy?

  • Make sure their primary living space has plenty of dry litter or straw.  Keep your coop clean and dry, and their feet will be dry and healthy!

Why did the chicken cross the road?

  • To get to the other side, of course!

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For everything you need to know about chickens, check out Oh Lardy's Guide to Keeping Backyard Chickens!  

Oh Lardy's Guide to Keeping Backyard Chickens - www.ohlardy.com


Since owning hens, I have a few favorite resources that I want to share with you!

This, by far, is my favorite book about raising backyard chickens:


I have three online resources that I visit frequently for information and ideas:

  • Backyard Chickens is a fantastic resource!  Their forum is chalked full of great information from knowledgeable chicken owners.  I love looking at the section all about coops.  There are some amazing chicken coops out there!  If only I had the room to create some of the coops I have seen!
  • My Pet Chicken is a cool website to visit to learn about backyard chickens.  You can even buy your chickens from them!  They have all kinds of breeds and you can buy coops and coop designs there, too.  I used this website a lot when I was researching which breeds I wanted to get.
  • Valley Permaculture Alliance is a local to Phoenix resource.  They have a micro livestock group/forum where I ask questions and I always get a great and quick response!
There are many great books on the subject of chicken keeping as well as numerous online resources.  Keeping backyard chickens is gaining popularity, so it is easy to find the information you are looking for.  I have received the most help from online forums and my favorite book.

Keeping backyard chickens is really easy to do.  I hope this series has answered your most pressing questions and helped you on your journey to keep hens in your backyard!  Don't hesitate to ask questions as they come up and if you are getting hens soon, we would love to hear about your adventures!


Now that you are ready to start your flock, which breeds are you going to get?

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A Practical Guide to Keeping Backyard Chickens - Resources and Questions

In case you missed it: Eggs!


  1. What a wonderful resource your series has been! My husband and I are trying to decide if raising is something we want to do for our family and you have answered so many questions! One more for you, what about predators? We live in Ohio so we don’t have as many as other states, but have you had problems with rats/mice/snakes??? This is a big concern of ours. Mostly snakes. Any info or advice here? It would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!!

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