We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Everything You Need to Know About Owning Chickens

A woman tends to chickens

If you’re interested in becoming more self-sufficient and saving money on eggs, then raising backyard chickens might be the perfect hobby for you. Not only do they provide fresh and healthy eggs, but they can also be entertaining and fulfilling to care for. Here’s everything you need to know about owning chickens.

What are the Benefits of Raising Chickens?

Two people collect chicken eggs
Nattanart P/Shutterstock.com

There are numerous benefits to raising backyard chickens. First and foremost, you’ll have a constant supply of fresh eggs, which can be pretty pricey even without inflation sending prices up. You’ll also be able to enjoy the satisfaction of providing for yourself and your family—chickens are relatively easy to care for and can provide great value.

Chickens are great for your garden too. They love to scratch and peck at the ground, which can help to aerate the soil and keep pests at bay. Their manure is also an excellent fertilizer, which can help improve the health of your plants.

Raising chickens can also be an excellent way to teach children about responsibility, animal care, and the cycle of life. It is a fun and interactive way to learn about biology and the natural world, as long as you teach your children to behave kindly and responsibly around these animals.

What Supplies Do You Need to Raise Chickens?

Chickens in a chicken coop

Before you can start raising chickens, you’ll need to gather some supplies to ensure they are comfortable and safe. Here are some of the essentials.

A Coop

First and foremost, you will need a chicken coop so that your chickens have a safe and secure place to sleep at night. You can either build your own coop or purchase one from a store.

Many coops also contain fencing that keeps chickens contained in one area. This is generally the safer option for your chickens, especially if you live somewhere that has predators nearby, like coyotes or foxes. If you choose to let your chickens roam free during the day, you will still need a safe place to keep them at night or during inclement weather.

Chicken Coop Outdoor Wooden Rabbit Hutch Poultry House

A budget-friendly option for small flocks.

Feeders and Waterers

You’ll need to provide your chickens with a constant supply of food and water. There are many different types of feeders and waterers available, each with different pros and cons. If you want to pick the best one for your backyard situation, it’s a good idea to visit a farm supply store to speak with an employee.

If you don’t want to go through all that effort, a free-range chicken feeder is a safe bet for pretty much anyone. This type of feeder can be filled with a large amount of feed at once and provides a constant stream of food for days or even weeks at a time.

The same goes for a waterer. Make sure you take the time to clean your feeders and waterers every week or two, as bacteria can build up quickly and cause health problems for your chickens.

Harris Farms Poultry Drinker

Easy to use and perfect for flocks of any size.


Adult chickens need a clean and dry surface to roost on and lay their eggs. The bedding you choose for your chickens should provide a soft and comfortable surface while also being absorbent and easy to clean.

There are several different types of bedding that will work for backyard chickens. Straw is a common and affordable option for chicken bedding. It is absorbent and easy to clean, and it provides a soft surface for the chickens to roost on. However, straw can be a bit dusty and it can be difficult to dispose of.

Wood shavings are another popular option for chicken bedding. They are absorbent and easy to clean, and they provide a soft and comfortable surface for the chickens to rest on. Wood shavings can be made from a variety of woods, but avoid using cedar shavings, as they can be harmful to chickens.

Manna Pro Fresh Flakes | Chicken Coop Bedding

All-natural & compostable pine shavings for coop bedding.

Finally, sand is a great option for chicken bedding because it is highly absorbent and it dries quickly. Sand also helps to control odor, and it is easy to clean, but it can be heavy and difficult to move around.

The Chicken Chick Sweet Coop, 5lb Bag

This sand is made from a mineral called zeolite, which absorbs moisture like a sponge.

What Are the Costs of Raising Chickens?

Group of chickens walking around a green lawn

While raising chickens can be a great way to save money on eggs, there are still some costs involved. The biggest expense will most likely be the coop, which can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the size and complexity.

You’ll also need to purchase feed, bedding, and other supplies on an ongoing basis. There may be additional expenses associated with raising chickens, such as treats, supplements, and occasional veterinary care. These costs will depend on your personal preferences and the health of your flock.

Durvet 6 Pack of Vitamins and Electrolytes for Poultry, 5 Grams, Makes 6 Gallons

Giving your chicken vitamins and supplements can help avoid vet visits.

These costs can be offset by the money you save on eggs over time, although this will depend on how many chickens you have and how many eggs they lay. Older chickens tend to lay fewer eggs than younger ones.

How Much Time is Involved in Raising Chickens?

A man cleans a chicken coop
Indy Edge/Shutterstock.com

While chickens are relatively easy to care for, they do require some time and attention. You will need to spend a few minutes every day checking on your chickens, making sure they have access to food and clean water, and collecting eggs.

pranovo Mini Eggs Collecting Basket

Perfect for collecting eggs.

You’ll also need to clean the coop on a regular basis to keep it sanitary and (relatively) odor-free. Depending on the size of your flock, this can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more each day.

You should also take several hours at least once a month to perform a deep cleaning of your chicken coop and check for signs of damage. This will help ensure that the coop stays safe and sanitary.

Other Important Points

A mom with her child and chickens
Nicoleta Ionescu/Shutterstock.com

Here are a few other important things to think about before you decide to raise backyard chickens.

  • Check your local ordinances: Before you start raising chickens, be sure to check your local ordinances to make sure it’s legal. Some areas have specific regulations regarding the number of chickens you can have and where you can keep them.
  • Be mindful of noise and odor: Chickens can be noisy, especially when they’re laying eggs or when a predator is nearby. If you have close neighbors, be mindful of the noise and take steps to minimize it if necessary. Chicken manure can also be smelly, so make sure your coop is well-ventilated and clean to prevent any unpleasant odors that carry over to other backyards.
  • Practice good hygiene: Chickens can carry bacteria such as Salmonella, so it’s important to practice good hygiene when handling them or their eggs. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling chickens, and make sure to cook eggs thoroughly before eating them.

Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel

Keep a bottle near the chicken coop for quick sanitizing.

Raising backyard chickens can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby that provides fresh eggs and the satisfaction of self-sufficiency. By following these tips and doing your research, you can start raising chickens and enjoy the many benefits that come with it.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
LifeSavvy is focused on a single goal: helping you make the most informed purchases possible. Want to know more?