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Raising Chickens in Your Backyard

I have been a gardener and Chicken lover for over 30 years. But when I moved back to Las Vegas over 5 years ago, I thought that dream was dead and over, until I saw a neighbor had put a chicken coop on the curb. My heart started pounding and I instantly found out if I could raise chickens in my new neighborhood. Chickens are considered pets here, but as long as they are outside and you don't have roosters, no-one has an issue with it. So off to the store I went!

I grabbed my neighbors chicken coop to start, since it was free. It was broken at the bottom, but we made it work until I figured out what my new chickens would need. We went to the local feed store, where they had a ton of white game chickens and very colorful roosters. But since the roosters are noisy, beautiful but noisy I had to pass on those and go for the white ones to start. I grabbed four chickens, a heater, some bedding and feed. I quickly realized how cramped they were in the coop, so jumped on Amazon to see what I could find to upgrade them to be more comfortable.

Since I was on a budget, I couldn't find anything super nice as most of them range between $500 and $1,000 dollar, but I soon found this one and knew this small chicken coop it would be a perfect fit for four chickens. Within a week of moving them, one of my chickens died, which was very sad for me. I think all the stress made her ill and she passed during the night. That got me to realize they needed more room to roam. Soon there after the price of eggs doubled and the new era of egg extortion was born. I knew with all my baking and cooking videos I do, that I would need to invest in a lot more chickens and a lot more room for them to nest and play.

I measured the space in my back yard, then found a large gated walk in chicken coop that would fit the smaller coop right inside of it.

Next I wanted to find baby chickens that would lay tons of eggs, but that was a huge challenge in Nevada, since all the feed stores here only carry the common white chickens. Which are super aggressive and don't lay a ton of eggs. My goal was to find baby chickens that were colorful, yet huge egg producers.


and Instantly placed an order. I even called them to make sure what I was getting would be good laying chickens and they showed me how to tell what kind of chickens they were right on each page. You can choose from hatching eggs or baby chicks. The website shows you dates they can ship, so you can choose the dates and they overnight them right to your door when they are ready.


The Exchequer variety of Leghorn has an unusual history, having developed spontaneously from a flock of White Leghorns in Scotland. Fascinated by these birds, the owner spent time developing them, and eventually gave them the name exchequer, inspired not only by the amount of revenue the birds contributed to the estate's "Exchequer" in eggs, but also inspired by their plumage, which was checkered evenly in black and white all over. (To our knowledge, none of the birds has ever mastered checkers.)

These birds are productive layers of large white eggs--reports suggest they lay nearly as many as the White Leghorns--and have an unusual, eye-catching appearance with their spotted plumage. They are active birds not prone to broodiness. Roosters are dandies with impressive hackles and large red combs. Like all Leghorns, the hens have large combs, too--so large, they usually flop over to one side like a fancy hat set at a fashionable angle. Because of their large combs, these birds can be susceptible to frostbite, but they do very well in heat.

and the White Leghorn

Remember Foghorn Leghorn the cartoon? Yep, this bird one and the same. (Seasoned pros pronounce it like "leggern.") The White is separate from the rest because they lay large, white eggs practically every day! Other varieties aren't nearly so prolific. Whites are said to be nervous, but we've personally found that some White Leghorns are actually quite sweet and very tame! So give one a try and find out for yourself. (In winter, use petroleum jelly on their large comb to prevent frostbite.)

Rhode Island Red chickens are a favorite chicken breed among many backyard homesteaders and farmers. And with good reason, they are excellent brown egg layers that are heat and cold hardy.

Rhode Island Reds are held in such high esteem that they're the official Rhode Island state bird. They were once hugely popular in America but declined along with the small farmer.

Today they're making a comeback due to small flock owners (like us!). They're the do-everything bird: they lay exceptionally well, they're valued for their meat, they're extremely cold hardy, and hardy in general. They're a wonderful choice if you're looking for a dual-purpose breed. And ours just happen to be stunning. Generations of careful breeding to the standard have produced a fine-looking bird!

3: Plymouth Rock

Barred Plymouth Rocks are a cut above! "Barred Rocks" are one of the most popular dual-purpose chickens on small farms today. Their heritage is unclear, but what is clear is that they're very friendly, great layers of large brown eggs and able to withstand cold weather quite nicely. Our particular flock can hardly be called "hatchery quality" -- just take a look at the rooster in the "outdoors" photographs, above. He's an actual breeder from our flock, and is a good example of the yellow legs, tight, consistent barring, and beautiful comb you will find on our Barred Rock flock.

Like the Faverolles, this is another breed whose males are often enthusiastically recommended as good roosters for the home flock, as they tend to be calm and kind in comparison to some breeds of roosters. Both roosters and hens are very pretty with feathers decorated in alternating bars of white and black, and set off by their bright, alert eyes!

Though Barred Rocks tolerate confinement, they're most happy when they get to range freely.

There are Several Other Breeds of the Plymouth Rock

Which are are one of the most popular dual-purpose chickens on small farms today. Aside from the Barred and White Rocks, other plumages are relatively rare. The Silver Penciled is especially lovely: the feathers are a field of white with elegant black penciling. It is similar in appearance to silver laced plumage in some ways, but the penciling has double fine black lines on each feather as if they're covered in calligraphy.

Rocks are friendly, great layers of large brown eggs and able to withstand cold weather quite nicely. Though they tolerate confinement, they're most happy when they get to range freely.

and the

Barred Plymouth Rocks or "Barred Rocks", as they're called, are one of the most popular chickens on small farms today, and this bantam variety is as sweet as can be. The heritage of the breed is unclear with reports of different crosses, but what is clear is that they're very friendly, great layers of brown eggs and fairly cold hardy for a bantam. Though they tolerate confinement, they're most happy when they get to range freely.

Australorps are the Australian take on the Orpington breed. They are calm and friendly, and excellent layers of light brown eggs (not green — we got it wrong in a recent newsletter, and boy did we hear from you!). The Australorp's exceptionally soft, shiny black plumage has hints of green and purple in the sunlight. Peaceful and dignified, Australorps are an absolutely delightful bird which we highly recommend to anyone who wants a pet chicken that lays dependably.

Golden Buffs are "sex link" chickens, meaning they're bred specifically so that males and females are different colors when they hatch. Females are egg-laying machines that continue to lay well in the heat and cold, when many others slow down. The males are said to be good "fryers" -- which makes this a good dual purpose breed! We love this breed for backyarders because the females are sweet, small and docile, in addition to being super layers! You may also know them by any of the following names:

Red Star, Comets, Golden Comet, Golden Sex Link, Isa Brown and Red Sex Link

Here for a limited time only! Check out these all black orpingtons! The chicks you will receive will be all black and if you breed them together, they will produce 50% split, 25% black, and 25% lavender offspring. If you breed the lavenders together, you will have 100% Lavender Orpington chicks. They are a large, loosely-feathered bird with an upright stance and a medium-sized single comb. Orpington's are adored for their good nature and willingness to be handled. These will be some of the friendliest birds in your whole flock and will be great for households with children. Hens lay three to four, light brown eggs a week. Average weight of roosters is 8.5 pounds and hens is 7 pounds.

The Sussex have everything: they are great layers of tinted or light brown eggs--and they lay right through the coldest weather. They are dual purpose birds, though fat-bodied and not prone to flying when mature, so they are easily fenced. In England, they used to be THE standard table bird, before the modern Cornish Crosses came along.

They forage well and are economical eaters that are friendly and easily handled. Their curious nature means they will often follow you around the yard if they think they can beg a treat from you. The "speckled" variety offered here has plumage thatgives them some camouflage from predators, too. Many tend to get more speckles after each successive molt, so they just get prettier with age. Seriously, what more could you ask for in a chicken?

8: Brahma

Brahmas are gentle giants with feathered legs and feet---and profuse, fluffy feathering. Originally from India, these birds were developed for meat production but are too slow-growing to be regarded as "meat birds" today.

The hens lay decent numbers of eggs, and are great setters and mothers. The dark variety of Brahma is not black, as you might think from the name. In actuality, from a distance, the Dark Brahmas have a warm, medium-grey appearance with black hackles shading to silver and white at the head. But close up, those steel grey feathers are intricately penciled in black---truly magnificent!

Brahmas are BIG birds. They're so much larger than most other breeds that they may end up near the top of your pecking order by default. The other thing to remember about their size is that you should gather eggs frequently and make sure your hens have supplemental calcium to develop strong shells. Weak-shelled eggs left too long in the coop can get inadvertently broken. That's a danger with any breed, of course, but particularly so with extra large birds like Brahmas.

Brahmas are so gentle and make great pets. They are quiet, cold-tolerant, and absolutely huggable! While not a power layer, you can expect three or so medium-sized brown eggs from this bird per week.

One of my Favorites for their colorful feathers and loveable hugability

Bantam Brahmas are gentle sweeties with feathered legs and feet and profuse, fluffy feathering. Originally from India, these birds were bred for meat production, though the hens lay relatively decently and are great setters and mothers. This fancy breed of chicken makes a great pet for its quiet and tame nature, tolerance to the cold, and lovability.

Raising Chickens in Your Backyard is not as hard as you think, if you get the right breed you will have a lovable pet that will be happy to see you, they don't bite or peck at you and they love to cuddle. These breeds are perfect, for that type of atmosphere. There are a ton more that produce a good amount of eggs as well, just be careful as some do not play well with others.

My Pet Chicken is also doing a HUGE Coop giveaway

Let me know if you have or are looking to start your own backyard chicken family, I would love to see your breeds, hear your tips and have you share your thoughts.

xoxo Haley


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