Upcoming Classes at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Home to Roost is back at the Chicago Botanic Garden for the following classes! Registration is not yet open, but stay tuned.

October 14, 2023, Sat. 10 am – noon: Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping, Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022

October 14, 2023, Sat. 1:30 – 3:30 pm: Coops, Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022

November 11, 2023, Sat.10 am – noon: Snow Birds –Winter Care for Chickens,Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022

Home to Roost will be at The Oak Park Farmer’s Market Saturday, May 27, 2023

We will be at the Oak Park Farmer’s Market – Go Green Days 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. We’ll be bringing a live chicken too!

The Oak Park Farmers’ Market is held rain or shine every Saturday through October in the Pilgrim Congregational Church parking lot at 460 Lake Street.

More information is at www.oak-park.us/farmersmarket.

Free Chicken-Keeping Class in Darien, IL

Join me for my basic chicken-keeping class on Saturday, May 20 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 at the Indian Prairie Public Library, 401 Plainfield Rd., Darien, IL.

We’ll talk about choosing breeds, chick care, care of adult birds, legal considerations, and other important topics!

Register here: https://ippl.libcal.com/event/9898062

I look forward to seeing you there!

Should We Be Able to Raise Chickens in Bolingbrook?

Have you thought about raising chickens in your backyard? Not every community allows that. Currently, it is against the law to raise chickens in Bolingbrook. However, the nearby communities of Downers Grove, Naperville, Lombard, Westmont, and St. Charles have updated their municipal codes to allow residents to raise chickens in their backyards.

Raising chickens can help your bottom line. If you have four egg-laying hens, they could produce as many as four eggs per day. Chickens eat grubs and other pests, and chicken manure is great as a fertilizer.

Lauren Matuszak has championed the raising of hens in Bolingbrook and will be featured at a town hall meeting on May 23, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at Bolingbrook Village Hall, 375 W. Briarcliff Road.

The goal of the meeting is a proposal to change the village ordinance to legalize chicken keeping in Bolingbrook. If you support this effort, please consider coming to the town hall meeting.

Virtual Basic Chicken-Keeping Class, Saturday 4-15-2023

Don’t miss out! Sign up NOW to learn how to care for your chicks and adult hens. This class is for both beginners and those who’ve had chickens for a while. $15 for 2 hours chook-full of great info!

Sign up on Gathr by Friday, 4-14-23, at noon central time!

Chick Tips!

Here are a few tips for your new chicks!

  1. Mail-order chicks may have trouble recognizing food and may eat their bedding, which can make them sick. Use white paper towels (rather than pine shavings or other material) as bedding for the first day or so. Drop some chick starter on it. They will start pecking at the food. Then put the food in a dish. When they have learned where the food is, you can put them on normal bedding.
  2. Set up your brooder a day or so before bringing your chicks home. The brooder should be in a room with a consistent temperature (like a basement, NOT a garage or unheated sunroom). Observe the temperature and adjust as needed. This way your brooder will be at the right temperature for when they move in!
  3. Heat your chicks’ brooder box at 95 degrees F for the first week of life. Then reduce the temperature by 5 degrees each week.
  4. Place your heat source at one end of the brooder so they can move away from the heat if needed.
  5. Use a small kitchen thermometer to gauge the temperature.
  6. Be prepared to move your babies to a larger brooder as they grow. They will need about a half square foot per bird from ages 0 to 4 weeks and 1 square foot from 4 to 8 weeks.
  7. Move your chicks out to the coop when they are fully feathered and the temps are 65 degrees F at night.

Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping April 29, 2023

I’m excited to be presenting this class on April 29, at 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. with Prairie Food Co-Op, For more information, including how to purchase tickets to this event, click here.

This class is a slightly scaled down version of my popular 2-hr basic chicken-keep class. It’s designed for curious folks who are considering getting chickens, as well as for those who already have their own birds. Learn how to find local laws, choose and raise chicks, care for adult birds, and more.

Nine Things to Consider Before Bringing Chickens to Your Backyard

Alguire garden2

Photo courtesy of Sandy Alguire

The urban agriculture movement includes everything from gardens to goats, with chickens in between. If you’re thinking about getting chickens, you’ll want to keep in mind of a few things in advance.

1) Chicks require special care. Baby chicks need appropriate warmth, shelter and diet if they are not with a hen who can protect them and show them the ropes.

2) You’ll get fewer eggs as your hens get older.  A hen’s ability to lay peaks at the end of her second year. After age two, she’ll lay fewer eggs per week. Chickens can live to be as many as 10 years old, so consider this in your plans. Are these birds pets who will give you eggs steadily for a few years? Or are they egg-laying machines that will be turned into soup when their laying slows down?

3) Chickens are different from cats and dogs. Birds and mammals are different in the ways they approach the world. For example:

  • Chickens are prey animals; dogs and cats are predators.
  • Their body systems function differently (for example, chickens have very sensitive respiratory systems and hollow bones).
  • They respond to stress in different ways.
  • Chickens need to go to an avian veterinarian, rather than a dog and cat vet.

4) The pecking order is an important reality. Chickens naturally rank themselves in a hierarchy to determine who is the alpha hen. If you introduce new birds to an existing flock, you may not only introduce disease, but you may also disrupt the pecking order, which can result in death for the newcomer.

5) A quality, secure coop is important. Chickens are susceptible to predators such as raccoons, hawks and coyotes. Do your research to determine how best to protect them. You should have a safe, sturdy coop ready well before your chicks are ready to move into it. You should lock your birds in the coop at dusk and let them out first thing in the morning.

6) Chickens are a daily commitment. Again, chickens are different from dogs and cats; you cannot provide extra food and water for your birds and go out of town for several days. Plan to feed, water, and gather eggs both morning and evening and find a chicken sitter if you go on vacation.

7) Diet is important. There are several different formulations of feed, each for different stages in a chicken’s life: chick starter, chick grower, and laying formula. Chickens can eat kitchen scraps, but a properly formulated feed should be the primary source of nutrition. I recommend providing supplemental calcium for laying hens and it’s important to note that treats like scratch and meal worms can cause birds to become fat, leading to laying problems and other health issues.

8) You are the first line of defense for your birds’ health. Birds hide signs of illness so it will be very important to know what is normal for your chickens: weight; food/water intake; respiration; social, sleep, and grooming habits; etc.

9) Chicken owners are chicken ambassadors. If you get chickens, you join the ranks of a group of people who are trying something new. With that privilege comes responsibility: to represent yourself and your fellow chicken keepers well to your community. Therefore, it’s important to educate yourself about chickens by taking a class (Home to Roost Urban Chicken Consulting offers several per year, as well as in-home consultations), reading quality materials (see the Resources tab on the blog Home to Roost Urban Chicken Consulting blog), and visiting the coops of successful chicken keepers. You can also join online forums, such as the Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts Google Group.

Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping, April 15, 10 AM-12 PM Central Time

I’m offering my popular Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping class ONLINE on April 15, 2023, 10 AM – 12 PM central time. Click here to register by noon April 14.

Join Chicago-based chicken consultant Jennifer Murtoff of Home to Roost LLC for this popular 2-hr class. For curious folks who are considering getting chickens, as well as for those who already have their own birds. Learn how to find local laws, choose and raise chicks, and care for adult birds.

NOTE: This class was developed for the Chicagoland area, which has cold winters and warm summers. Don’t forget, you must register by noon on April 14, 2023.

NOTE: The instructor is not a veterinarian. See all class offerings at here.

Photo by Liz McCrory, kosmicstudio.org

Free Chicken-Keeping Class, March 1, 2023

Join me and Maria the chicken for a chicken-keeping class on March 1, 2023, from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Fossil Ridge Public Library, 386 W Kennedy Rd, Braidwood, IL 60408.

We’ll talk about choosing breeds, chick care, care of adult birds, legal considerations, and other important topics!

Register here: https://fossilridge.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails?EventId=643&backTo=Calendar&startDate=2023/03/01