Archive for March, 2021

Home to Roost Classes with Chicago Botanic Garden Start April 20!

I will be teaching three online classes for the Chicago Botanic Garden this spring, including my Basic Chicken Keeping Class, my Coop Class, and a new class for 2021: Duck Keeping 101! (UPDATE 4/15/21: Unfortunately, Duck Keeping has been canceled due to circumstances beyond our control. )

Register now for these classes at the links below. Please note that all registrations must be submitted online 2 days before your class starts.

Basic Chicken Keeping Concepts: Online — April 20, 6-8 pm
Considering getting chickens, or already have your own birds? Learn tips and tricks on how to raise chicks, care for adult birds, prevent common problems, and keep your neighbors happy.

Chicken Coop Basics: Online — April 27, 6-8 pm
Discover all you need to know about building a safe and comfortable home for your hens. Learn the basic needs of backyard birds, the essential components of a coop, important construction tips, and different coop styles. Use what you learn to construct your own coop or evaluate an existing design.

Special Offer

While supplies last, we are pleased to offer a free copy of GRIT Backyard Chickens magazine to everyone who signs up for a class!

GRIT Backyard Chickens magazine provides helpful information on topics such as choosing the right chicken breed, nutrition, preventing frostbite, and shoring up your coop against predators. The latest issue includes several articles authored by Home to Roost: Reasons to keep backyard chickens, the importance of gut health, and how to boost egg production.

Sign up for a chicken class presented by Home to Roost and Chicago Botanic Garden and get a free copy of GRIT Backyard Chickens Magazine!

Gut Health: It’s Not Just for Humans Anymore

We have all seen the ads for probiotic supplements, designed to support the “good bacteria” in human digestive systems. As it turns out, gut health is also important for chickens. A healthy gut, teeming with good bacteria and other micro-organisms, helps the birds absorb nutrients from their food and contributes to the development of a chicken’s immune system. In fact, commercial chicken farmers are turning to probiotics, rather than antibiotics, to maintain a healthy flock.

Probiotics, Yeast, and Other Microflora

Chicks are born without gut bacteria. They usually get their gut bacteria from their mother, because they (accidentally!) ingest some of her droppings and absorb the good bacteria, yeast, and other beneficial microorganisms (called microflora). These tiny organisms aid in digestion and protect the gut from harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli.

However, chicks that are raised by themselves in an incubator, with no mother hen present, miss this early opportunity to colonize their digestive systems with healthy micro-organisms.

So how can chicken keepers ensure their hand-raised (rather than hen-raised) chicks get the microflora they need to develop healthy digestive systems? There are a number of chicken feeds on the market that contain probiotics, yeast, and other fungal components. Check the feed label for yeast culture and other fungal components, as well as probiotics with scientific names such as Lactobacillus acidophilus.


You’ve also probably seen ads that tout the importance of prebiotics for humans. Prebiotics are the nutritious foodstuffs that support the growth of probiotics in your gut. And, yes, you guessed it, prebiotics are also important for chickens! Fortunately, most chickens love to eat the foods that are considered prebiotic: berries, flaxseed, dandelion greens, wheat bran, lentils, and other favorite chicken treats.

For more information about choosing feeds that contain beneficial microflora, read this illuminating blog post on the Nutrena Poultry blog “Scoop from the Coop.”

Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping — Virtual Event with Tinley Park Public Library, March 24, 2021

Are you new to chicken keeping, or thinking about getting your own birds? Join us for Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping — Online Class with Tinley Park Public Library on Wednesday, March 24 from 6:30pm – 8:30pm!

Registration information is located here.

This class is 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 about chicken keeping, choose and raise chicks, and care for adult birds. This online class is open to all, regardless of location.

NOTE: This class is geared to the Chicagoland area, including predators and climate.

Register Now for Chicken Health Class (Virtual) on April 5, 2021!

What are the common health issues chickens face, and how can you treat them? Better yet, how can you keep your flock healthy? This online class addresses chicken physiology, disease prevention and transmission, as well as chicken first aid. Join us on Monday, Apr 5, 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM for this virtual class presented by Home to Roost and the Chicago Rebuilding Exchange!

Chicken Health Class (Virtual) Monday, Apr 5, 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Registration information is available here.

NOTE: This class is geared to the Chicagoland area, including predators and climate.

Learn how to keep your chickens healthy during this online class on April 5!