Unfortunately they can scratch and peck bare spots in your yard and destroy landscaping. Gardens are in great danger if the hens are allowed to roam there, especially if any plants are setting fruit. Chickens will even fly up into your fruit trees and eat the ripe fruit just before you get any.
But chickens have been a mainstay of homesteaders for centuries and are a wonderful supply of fresh eggs and meat. It's very rewarding to go out each day and collect the bounty your hens have produced for you. Eggs are used in many recipes and dishes and are very versatile. The meat produced by birds raised just for that purpose is a delicious meat that is also very versatile and is used in many wonderful meals.
Kinds Of Birds
There are meat birds which are bred and grown only for producing large quantities of meat. The big white birds you see on some farms are usually what end up in your local grocery store. They do not lay eggs because they do not live over about 8 week of age. There are other large breeds that are not bred for fast growth but do produce a lot of meat and mature later. Any of these can be grown in your back yard for your own meat raised just how you like it.
The egg laying breeds do not produce as much meat as those birds grown for that purpose but are far superior in quantities of eggs. These breeds can produce white, brown and blue or green eggs. There are variances in color from light brown to medium and dark brown, blue, green, and even hints of red and pink eggs. Each bird produces it's own shade of color so if you have one that lays a pretty blue color she will always lay that shade unless something goes wrong.
Some of the main laying breeds are the Rhode Island Red, Black Australorpe, Barred Plymouth Rock, Buff Orpington, and the Red or Black Sexlinks for brown eggs and the White Leghorn and Brown Leghorn for white eggs. There are, of course, many other breeds that lay eggs as well.
Keeping your own hens in your back yard, whether in the city or the country will involve a hen house or coop. These can be bought ready-made to set in your yard and add hens or if you like doing things your way you can build one yourself without too much effort. Find plans and ideas in these books:
Raising your own birds is very rewarding but it is a lot of work. The main things are a warm and clean environment. A brooder box can be as simple as a plastic tote or cardboard box or as elegant as a brooder bought just for chicks. Any heat lamp will work as long as it can be securely fastened where it will keep the chicks at the correct temperature. Bedding may consist of chopped cardboard or shredded paper which will absorb liquids well but will need changed frequently, or pine shavings or sawdust which work better. Proper feed and water should always be kept in front of them. If you want to try your hand at raising your own chicks there are many resources available to you. One of them is: