How to Grow Chickens in the City

A Guide to Urban Chicken Farming

Backyard chickens bring fresh eggs and sustainable food production to urban places. With proper setup and care, small-scale city flocks provide nutritious homemade ingredients steps from your door. This guide covers everything needed to successfully raise chickens in urban environments.

Introduction to Urban Chicken Farming

Keeping chickens was once limited to rural farms. But a growing urban agriculture movement is bringing small-scale backyard poultry to cities and suburbs. With attentive husbandry, hens can thrive and provide a local source of eggs within city limits.

This article explores key considerations for urban chicken farming:

  • Benefits of city chickens
  • Selecting chicken breeds
  • Coop design and placement
  • Feeding and watering
  • Biosecurity and predator protection
  • Chicken health and wellbeing
  • Waste management
  • Neighborhood relations
  • Sourcing chickens and supplies
  • Regulations and permitting

Continue reading for tips on smoothly integrating tiny chicken flocks into urban areas.

Why Keep City Chickens?

A small urban flock offers many advantages:

  • Convenient access to ultra-fresh eggs
  • Reduced food miles compared to store eggs
  • Recycling of household food scraps and waste
  • Landscape management from foraging and fertilizer
  • Pest control by eating bugs like ticks, mites, and lawn beetles
  • Teaching opportunities for children
  • Pets offering affection and entertainment
  • Community building through sharing eggs and knowledge

Done properly, a backyard urban flock enhances sustainability, food security, and neighborhood ties.

Selecting Chicken Breeds

Focus on a few hardy, productive hen breeds suited for confined city spaces:

  • Rhode Island Reds – Reliable egg layers and good foragers. Docile and family-friendly.
  • Barred Rocks – Prolific eggs and adjust well to confinement. Tolerate heat.
  • Australorps – Excellent layers of brown eggs. Calm disposition.
  • Orpingtons – Dual purpose for eggs and meat. Go broody often.
  • Leghorns – Very high white egg production though temperamental. Avoid if noise is an issue.
  • Cochins – Shy but friendly. Preferred for pets over high egg yields.

Avoid noisy roosters that could disturb neighbors. Hens start laying around 5-6 months old.

Designing a City Chicken Coop

Urban coops differ from rural ones with space optimizations and predator protections. Key elements include:

  • Ample indoor space for roosting and laying – 10 square feet per bird minimum.
  • Windows and ventilation while blocking drafts. Insulate if needed.
  • Nest boxes for laying eggs – one 12×12 inch box per hen.
  • Perches at varied heights for roosting.
  • External attached run for scratching, dust baths, and exercise.
  • Predator defenses like hardware cloth and dig barriers.
  • Easy human access for cleaning and feeding.
  • Waterproof roofing materials like sheet metal.
  • Wheels for mobility to rotate pasture areas.

Prioritize security and ensure city codes allow chicken coops.

Caring for City Chickens

Thriving backyard flocks require diligent care:


  • High quality layer feed provides balanced nutrition. Offer free choice.
  • Calcium from oystershell prevents thin egg shells.
  • Flock blocks give needed grit for digestion.
  • Kitchen scraps provide supplements but avoid excess.


  • Ensure constant access to clean, fresh water.
  • Use poultry nipple water systems to minimize mess.
  • Keep water unfrozen in winter using heated dog bowls.


  • Spot clean droppings daily. Fully change out bedding weekly.
  • Scrub water and feed systems to prevent disease.
  • Maintain secure outdoor runs free of poop buildup.

Health Management:

  • Monitor for illness and treat individual birds as needed. Isolate sick chickens.
  • Follow biosecurity measures and quarantine new birds.
  • Check for and control external parasites like mites.
  • Provide oyster shell and flaxseed to support egg production.

Predator Protection for Urban Flocks

City chickens face risks from urban wildlife like rats, raccoons, dogs, hawks, and coyotes seeking an easy meal. Safeguard them with:

  • Predator-proof coop construction and small fence openings.
  • Hardware cloth or metal mesh around outdoor runs.
  • Prompt removal of food and water at night inside secured coops.
  • Motion detector lights, radios, and other deterrents.
  • Temporary confinement during the day if needed.
  • Avoiding food leftovers that attract vermin.
  • Eliminating hiding spots like woodpiles or debris near the coop.

Managing Waste from City Chickens

Proper urban flock sanitation prevents problems with odor, pests, and pathogens:

  • Line the coop floor with absorbent bedding like pine shavings to contain waste.
  • Remove spent litter promptly. Compost or bag it for curbside collection where permitted.
  • Some cities allow backyard composting of manure and used bedding. Check regulations.
  • Disinfect the coop interior regularly with products like borax.
  • Routine hand washing and biosecurity helps prevent the spread of bacteria.

Community Considerations

Being a good urban farming neighbor ensures a happy flock:

  • Check local ordinances and acquire permits if needed. Limit roosters.
  • Select quieter breeds and discourage loud vocalizations.
  • Locate coops away from neighboring windows and high-traffic areas.
  • Use landscaping or fencing to screen the run from view.
  • Share extra eggs to build community goodwill.
  • Be diligent in cleaning and odor control.
  • Educate others on the benefits of sustainable urban chicken keeping.

Outreach and care prevents complaints surrounding backyard poultry.

Acquiring Your City Flock

Take these steps to start on the right foot:

  • Research city codes and prepare your coop before acquiring chickens.
  • Buy vaccinated chicks from hygienic hatcheries to start a juvenile flock together.
  • Or source adult hens locally from classified ads or community members.
  • Introduce birds slowly and monitor for personality conflicts.
  • Train chickens to nest in provided boxes and avoid wandering.

Build relationships with urban farming groups for mentorship and chicken advice.


With proper preparation and care, small backyard chicken flocks can thrive in urban and suburban areas. They provide a local sustainable food source and foster community relationships. Follow this guide to integrate gentle hens into city life in mutually beneficial ways. The urban agriculture movement continues growing one chicken coop at a time!

For more on urban livestock keeping, see:

[Backyard Chicken Breed Guide] [Urban Livestock Regulations 101] [Sustainable Urban Farming Ideas]

Let’s coop together for greener cities!

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