Tales from the henhouse: 8 chicken blogs we love
If you haven’t already heard bocks and squawks in your neighborhood, it might just be a matter of time. The backyard chicken flock, once all but banished from urban centers, is making a bit of a comeback thanks in part to loosening regulations. A 2015 review of the 150 most populous U.S. cities showed that 93 percent of them allow backyard poultry flocks. And while the number of US households keeping chickens in 2013 was only one percent, according to the USDA, another four percent said they planned to start in the next five years.
Caring for a flock doesn’t just offer the benefit of freshly laid eggs. It’s also a way to divest from inhumane industrialized farming and discover the many charms of chickens. Chicken enthusiasts across the blogosphere are documenting their experiences with backyard flocks, offering practical advice, and sharing inspiring stories for readers hoping to get started. Even if most readers are just enjoying chickens vicariously, many bloggers hope their audience may be inspired to find humanely sourced eggs, and even push for animal welfare protections for the chickens living out their short lives in factory farms.
Our team analyzed more than 40 popular chicken blogs, giving points to the ones that offer practical advice, user-friendly web design, and thoughtful, entertaining writing. Below is a list of our favorites. Read on to learn from and laugh along with these passionate chicken keepers. Perhaps you’ll end up with some grand poultry plans of your own. - Monica Stanton
The hilarious and endearing Randy Graham recalls tales of his “hipster hens,” shares useful information about keeping chickens, writes book reviews about chicken-themed books, and more. Those with hobby flocks will find helpful posts about chicken maladies and coop equipment. He also offers tips for consumers, like his five-part series on commercial eggs that breaks down those confusing labels on egg cartons. Even people who don’t own chickens will find his posts entertaining. Who wouldn’t want to read The Life and Times of Betty the Transgender Chicken, which explains the fascinating phenomenon of spontaneous sex reversal in chickens. Throughout his writing, Randy’s passion and love of caring for these intelligent and quirky birds shines through. We also like the way he makes us laugh.
Janet Garman writes about her experiences keeping chickens and homesteading on her family farm. Her blog is bursting with helpful tips for raising chickens, and loads of DIY projects and recipes for keeping a flock healthy, such as Chicken Coop Deodorizing Spray and Wound Care Ointment. In a post entitled What Herbs Keep Chickens Healthy? she explains the benefits of blending different herbs into a flock’s diet. She also shares tips on beekeeping and rabbit care, has authored four books, and sells free range yarn from her sheep and other local small fiber farmers. Throughout her blog, Janet shares her commitment to land stewardship and cutting down on waste, and that’s something we can get behind.
Community Chickens is a collaboration of various bloggers and chicken owners across the United States. It’s a great resource for those just getting into the chicken-keeping game, because it contains information on everything from choosing a breed, to recipes for chicken feed, to how to trim a chicken’s toenails. We love this guide to hatching chicks in the classroom by Jennifer Sartell that breaks down the details for teachers and explains why it can be a good example of hands-on learning for students of all ages. We also love browsing the coops section of the site - kind of an Architectural Digest for chicken coops featuring designs like The Porta Potty Coop and the Wicked Chicken Saloon. There’s also a great DIY section with recipes and repurposing ideas galore. Finally, give a listen to the Community Chickens podcast which features the hilarious Charlotte Brunin and Zach Foley on chickens and life.
My Pet Chicken is a product supplier with a blog on why chickens are the best pets on earth. Chicken keepers can find such useful information as plants to grow when keeping chickens and How to Sprout Seeds for Chickens. Those considering taking the leap and starting their own flock may be sold on the idea after reading posts like 4 Ways My Chickens Do Yardwork and How Much I Saved with My Chickens and Garden. Other helpful posts cover topics such as chicken predators, chicken health, and even local regulations on keeping chickens. There’s also just plain fun stuff like chicken crafts and cooking with eggs. And if you’re not yet convinced that chickens make great pets, the story on 2 Ways Chickens Change the World may do the trick. At the very least, you’ll end the story with a warmer heart and craving for omelettes.
Award-winning author and blogger, Melissa Caughey, shares tips on chicken keeping, gardening, and beekeeping as well as craft projects and recipes from her Cape Cod homestead on Tilly’s Nest. Caughey provides practical information about chicken keeping such as how to predator-proof the chicken run and top vines to grow on your chicken coop, as well as seasonal care and chicken health. She has compiled a list of reputable chicken vets across the country. She also answers such questions as Can I Get Salmonella from my Backyard Chickens? . But what makes her blog so unique is how much of herself she puts into her posts. She talks about deeply personal issues such as mourning the loss of her step-father, and how her flock helped her through the grieving process. Along with providing great tips on homesteading, this blog will undoubtedly help you gain a deeper appreciation for these feathered friends.
Scoop from the Coop is a blog with information on chicken and duck keeping powered by Nutrena Animal Feeds. Those looking to start a backyard flock will find so much information on care and management, diseases and disorders, and poultry nutrition and supplements. Their blog also contains helpful short animated videos on topics such as A Chicken’s Molting Process. And while a lot of chicken blogs focus on keeping chickens for egg production, this one also has information and tips for those who want to keep chickens as meat birds. Finally, we really love Nutrena’s Feed it Forward program, which offers grants to organizations that share their belief in the life-changing bond between animals and people, such as Zachariah’s Acres and We Can Ride.
Counting My Chickens is a blog about growing your own healthy and sustainable food, even in a non-rural setting. Its author, self-described “recovering attorney” Deborah Neyens, has adapted her suburban environment to accommodate an organic garden and five chickens. Her blog includes tips and tricks for beginners raising chickens at home. “Is it Legal to Raise Chickens in my Suburban Backyard?” is a deep dive into the regulations, restrictions, and requirements surrounding this topic, and is her most read post. Since backyard chickens are still illegal in many municipalities, she highlights how grassroots pressure successfully legalized raising chickens in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It’s a practical, inspiring call to action for chicken lovers everywhere.
Fresh Eggs Daily is a blog based in rural Maine. Its author, Lisa Steele, owns a small farm with chickens, ducks, and other animals. Her posts are a treasure trove for anyone hoping to keep and care for hens naturally. The sheer volume of information is staggering, but the posts are very readable and written in a down-to-earth tone. You feel like she’s giving you advice face to face. In her signature Herbs for Hens® series, Lisa explains the ways herbs can benefit hens and hen owners alike! Before reading these posts, I would have never thought of something as simple as bay leaves being used as an insect repellent!
Her blog also includes the interesting piece: “Can Chickens Recognize Each Other?”, which pairs her personal hen-keeping experience with scientific insights about hens’ eyesight and perceptiveness. It turns out hens can recognize as many as 100 other members of their flock and can tell the difference between a dog from their own farm and a neighbor’s dog.
In addition to her online writing, Lisa Steele has worked in print, publishing five books for children and adults about raising hens naturally.
Jennifer Gardner is a News Fellow for Stone Pier Press.