So You Wanna Raise Your Own Chickens

Chris Newman
6 min readFeb 17, 2023

Deliciousness and self-sufficiency await! Read this before you hurt somebody.

via Sylvanaqua Farms

The price of poultry and eggs has everyone freaking out and thinking it’s a great idea to buy themselves some chickens. And maybe for some people, or even a lot of people, it is. But let’s get real about a few things, especially given the amount of disinformation about what chickens can and can’t do thanks to Joe Rogan giving Joel Salatin a platform to do some really bad math (I’m not linking it here, because the point is to HALT the misinformation).

The Biggest Myths

Let’s knock the big ones out of the way right away:

Myth: If every few families raised a handful of chickens in the backyard, there’d be no need for an egg industry

Fact: If every few families raised a handful of chickens in the backyard, we’d wind up with the same problem China had to deal with a few years ago. There’s a reason we don’t do major agriculture in cities anymore, and while some of those reasons are nefarious (e.g. meatpackers abandoning the Chicago Stockyards to avoid concentrations of organized labor), hordes of unregulated livestock in population centers is generally a terrible idea.

Myth: Chickens can live on kitchen scraps

Fact: So could you, but your health would suffer. This solution only works if you’re content with chronic, low-key animal abuse.

Myth: Whatever the chickens don’t eat will turn into compost

Fact: Making compost that you can grow things in without killing someone is a fairly delicate process. Those disappearing kitchen scraps aren’t the result of composting; they’re the result of vermin taking them away because you’re creating a backyard sanitation crisis.

Myth: Chicken poo is fertilizer!

Fact: Chicken poo carries salmonella and needs to be kept away from the lawns your kids play in and the backyard garden you feed them with. It’s also a highly concentrated source of nitrogen that’ll burn up your yard, garden, and anything else you care about.

Myth: Restaurants should get fresh eggs by having a chicken coop attached to the building

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Chris Newman

Building a new, accessible, open, and democratic food economy in the Chesapeake Bay region @ Sylvanaqua Farms