Utah Stories

Backyard Chicken Farming

Chicken farming is easy, fun, and can be done in any yard. Read up on how you can start your own poultry paradise.


Photo by Sarah Lappe

You Can Be a Farmer Too!

Did you know that you could raise your very own backyard chickens in Salt Lake City? Generally, once a coop is up and running, chickens are low maintenance and easy to take care of. Plus, they will produce the best eggs you have ever had with dark, yellow yolks and clear whites, and rich with vitamins.

Why raise chickens? Raising your own chickens gives you the opportunity to control the production of eggs. Factory chickens are likely to have poor living conditions and low-quality food options. In addition, factory eggs travel far to reach your plate. For example, Iowa is one of the nation’s top egg producers, but it is over 900 miles away. With your own backyard chickens, you can raise chickens that are happy and healthy, and you can eat eggs that have traveled only a few feet.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? While this may be a perplexing philosophical question, it is also an important question to ask before getting started. You can begin raising your chickens starting from eggs, chicks or full-grown chickens. Keep in mind that each stage of life has different shelter and feed requirements. I would suggest starting your flock as chicks. Our local IFA County Stores sells a wide variety of chicks in the springtime. There are many species of chicks to choose from, so do your research and find a breed that suits your needs. In general you will want to pick out breeds that will fare well in the local climate.

It takes about 6-8 weeks for your chicks to grow into chickens. Once they are grown you can move your them to their coop. Chicken coops range in size, shape, color and design, however, there are a few standard features that create ideal living conditions. Your chickens need at least 4-square feet of space per chicken, protection from predators, and good ventilation. Your coop needs a roosting area that is at least a few feet off the ground, and nesting boxes filled with straw for egg laying. You can build your own coop or purchase a ready-made coop online or at IFA. Lastly, in addition to the coop, it is important to have a chicken run where your chickens can play and roam. After about 4-months of living in the coop, you can start to expect your chickens to produce their eggs.

Aside from producing delicious nourishment, your chickens are going to provide you with endless entertainment. Chickens are fun and a joy to watch. Chickens love scratching around to look for bugs, taking dirt baths, and being high on a perch. Chickens have different personalities that can range from sweet to aggressive, and they are very smart. As an added bonus, there is nothing funnier than watching chickens run to you.

When raising chickens it is important to know that every city and town in Utah has its own laws and ordinances. In Salt Lake City, you are permitted to own up to 15 chickens (but no roosters!) and your coop must be at least 25-feet away from your neighbor’s’ yard. Before beginning your chicken project, make sure you research the specific laws in your area because you can easily get hit with a hefty fine. Nevertheless, since the movement to be more local is staying strong, urban chickens can be your next step towards growing as a food producer, not just a consumer.


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