Raising chickens is fun and satisfying. There’s a short, easy learning curve. People have been raising chickens for millennia, worldwide, and it’s a breeze to get started. But to make it legal, you have to talk to our local county council.
You can build your own, or buy. Building a chicken coop is fun if you like projects. For some ideas, check out “Reinventing the Chicken Coop: 14 Original Designs with Step-by-Step Building Instructions” by Kevin McElroy and Matthew Wolpe. From that Amazon.com page, you will see lots of other books with fresh ideas for coops.
If you are buying, check out the stylish coops from Williams Sonoma, more traditional designs from Petco, and lots more online coop discussions at BackyardChickens.com. Ready-made coops are sometimes sold at Southern States in the springtime, or on CraigsList.
Typically, you will start with baby chicken or young hens. During the springtime, many “Southern States” stores sell chicks during “Chick Days”. Southern States is like Home Depot for agricultural supplies. Other times of the year, attend local agricultural fairs (e.g., the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair in Gaithersburg every August). Search for sellers on CraigsList. See an 8 minute video from Martha Stewart TV about chicks.
When they are babies, you keep them inside (e.g., in a bin) with a heat lamp, food, water, wood shavings on the floor:
When they are older, they live outside (year-round), in a secure, covered coop, with a protected “run” to run around during the day. See videos on getting started with a flock.
Feed and supplies
Buy feed and supplies from Souther States stores in Poolesville, Spencerville, Germantown, Mount Airy, Frederick, or Annapolis. Organic feed is also sold by Nick’s Organic Farm in Buckeystown, Maryland; East Rivendell Farm in Damascus, MD, and other local suppliers.
Sites and blogs
Prince George’s County – web site and petition.
Arlington Egg Project – web site and petition