If you grow veggies, what’s the natural next step? Raising backyard chickens. Find out why this has become the West’s latest pet trend

Kelsey Maloney

Thanks to the latest desire for local produce, people are taking the leap from growing vegetables to raising animals. Chickens, it turns out, are lower maintenance than a dog and just as affectionate. And your pooch probably can’t help you make breakfast. Once relegated to the farm, chicken coops are now popping up in backyards. Franchesca Duval, owner of Alchemist Farm, near Sebastopol, California, sells her chicks and hatching eggs nationwide. Below, she shares her tips on how to bring the barnyard into your backyard.

They’re Inexpensive

The average feed—I use leftover kitchen scraps or organic feed—costs less than a dollar per day per chicken. There could be a small lump sum up front if you’re building your own coop. Note, you’ll want one to two square feet inside the coop per chicken.

They Feed You

Chickens start to lay eggs at around 5½ months. Store-bought eggs from chickens raised in cages have a pale yellow yolk that will typically break. When a chicken is able to be outside eating grass or bugs in a backyard, they lay nutrient-rich eggs with a bright yolk. 

Norcal Images; courtesy of Alchemist Farm

They’re Kid-Friendly

The Golden Laced Orpingtons are a non-aggressive breed with a sweet temperament, making them ideal pets for children. The daily chores of feeding and egg collecting are something that even a two-year-old can accomplish.

Visit Alchemist Farm’s website or follow them on Instagram to find more information on ordering their chicks and eggs or raising chickens.