Register now for Chicken Coop Basics class (virtual) on February 11!

This is your last chance to register for Chicken Coop Basics, presented by Home to Roost LLC and the Chicago Rebuilding Exchange on February 11 at 6:30 pm. This online class addresses what you need to know about building a safe and comfortable home for your hens. You’ll learn the basic housing needs of backyard birds. Find out the essential components of a coop, construction materials to choose and avoid, important construction tips, and see different coop styles. 

Registration info is available here.

Winterizing Your Chickens

We are heading for some low temperatures this weekend. If you got chicks this spring, you probably asked the question, “How do I take care of the hens over the winter?” Bringing them into the house is not a great idea, and unlike dogs, chickens generally aren’t given to wearing sweaters and booties. Here are some tips for helping your chickens ride out the winter.

Coop Environment

Heat is not a major need for chickens in winter. They can tolerate pretty low temperatures and will eat more to increase their metabolism. Overheating your coop can lead to hefty hens who haven’t burned off all the extra calories they’re consuming. So leave the space heater in the spare room! Your main enemy is moisture. Too much moisture in the coop leads to frostbite. It’s more important to have a dry coop than a warm coop.

  • Clean poop from the coop often. Chicken feces add to the moisture content of the air in the coop.
  • Ensure that the coop is well ventilated but not drafty.
  • Move your coop to an area out of the wind.
  • Cover the run with tarps or heavy-duty plastic to prevent drafts.
  • Stack strawbales around the run to hold in the heat and prevent snow from blowing in.
  • If your coop is raised, the area between the floor of the coop and the ground is often a favored winter hangout. Provide some windbreaks for the birds and they’ll likely enjoy their winter digs.
  • Provide lots of bedding or straw. Bedding should be dry and fluffy so that it traps the heat.
  • You can use a heat lamp when temps are in the single digits for several days. Beware of fire hazards, especially with the dry bedding, and use a red, rather than white, bulb. A reptile heat emitter is a good alternative.
  • If you want your hens to continue laying during the winter, supplement white light in the morning (not evening) so that the hens get 14 hours of light. You can also let their bodies rest and give them the winter off from laying.
  • Provide wide roosts that allow the down feathers on their bellies to cover their feet.

Food and Water

  • Provide fresh, unfrozen water and be sure they have continuous access to food – their bodies need it to stay warm. You can keep two waterers – one in the house and one outside – and swap them out as the outside one freezes.
  • Provide extra protein for the birds during the winter months. A handful of dry cat (not dog) food will give an extra protein boost.
  • You can provide a handful of scratch grain in the evening, before they head to the roost for the night. This will help keep their metabolism going during the night.
  • Provide a head of cabbage, hung from a string or chain to keep them engaged and prevent pecking.
  • Use a bird suet basket as a treat box.


  • Use Vaseline on combs and wattles to keep them from freezing.
  • Watch feet, combs, and wattles signs of frostbite – they will look swollen and puffy at first. They will eventually turn black and fall off. Infection is a possible risk of a bad case of frostbite.

Contact Home to Roost if you’d like an in-home winterizing consultation.

Register now for Chicken Keeping Classes and get free bag of Nutrena feed

Home to Roost’s series of online classes, hosted by the Chicago Rebuilding Exchange and starting on February 8, offers a wealth of information about raising backyard hens. We are pleased to offer a coupon for a free bag of Nutrena chicken feed and a free copy of GRIT Backyard Chickens magazine to everyone who signs up for a class!*

Sign up for a chicken class with the Rebuilding Exchange and get a free copy of GRIT Backyard Chickens Magazine!

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. 

Register Now for Home to Roost Classes!

Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping – Online, February 8, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Chicken Coop Basics – Online, February 11, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

NEW! Bird Brains: Flock Psychology – Online, February 22, 6:30 pm – 7:15 pm

NEW! Quail: An Overview – Online, March 3, 6:30 pm – 7:15 pm

Chicken Health – Online, April 5, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

NOTE: All classes are geared to the Chicagoland area, including predators and climate.

* Home to Roost wishes to thank Cargill for providing the coupons for Nutrena chicken feed. These coupons are only redeemable for Nutrena brand chicken feed, not for other brands of feed. Class attendees who wish to receive the coupon and magazine will be asked to supply their mailing addresses. This offer is good while supplies last. One offer per household.

Five Top Reasons to Keep Chickens

Are you thinking about getting chickens in 2021? Here are five top benefits that backyard chickens will bring into your life. We hope these reasons will encourage you to join the urban agriculture movement and keep backyard hens!

1. Delicious Eggs. Your hen’s eggs, with their delicious, deep-yellow yolks, will taste fresher and better than eggs from the grocery store. For those of you who have never had a really fresh egg, a pleasant experience awaits you!

2. Fun and Fascinating Pets. You will discover that, far from the TV portrayal of most chickens as loud and feisty, chickens are actually calm and have their own personalities. Your flock might include an extrovert, a singer, a clown, or a shy, sensitive type. It is always a joy to watch them grow from small, fluffy chicks into gangly teenagers, and finally into mature laying hens. The first egg is a huge milestone in your chicken keeping endeavor!

3. Humane Farming. Providing the right coop, feed, and care will help your backyard chickens thrive. Most eggs in the supermarket come from hens that are not able to scratch in the dirt, sit in the sun, or dust bathe. Hens that have the opportunity to engage in normal behaviors, including searching for food and soaking up the sun, lay better-tasting, more nutritious eggs. Your backyard coop will be part of the movement toward local, sustainable agriculture.

4. Nature Education. Raising chickens is an opportunity for you and your children to observe the life cycle up close. Caring for an animal helps children develop empathy and responsibility, and raising chickens for eggs will help your children learn about how food is produced.

5. Gardening Partners. Your chickens can actively contribute to your garden by scratching for worms, grubs, and other tiny critters. This will help till the soil in your garden plot and turn your compost heap. In addition, chicken droppings contain ammonia, which breaks down into nitrogen, a powerful natural fertilizer, in 6 to 8 months. You’ll need to age your chicken poop 6 to 8 months in a compost bin, however, to allow this natural process to take place.

As you’re thinking about getting chickens, consider these benefits. We hope these reasons will encourage you to get your own backyard hens.

This weird ability of chickens will surprise you!

A while back, Mercedes-Benz came out with an ad campaign designed to emphasize the stability of its vehicles, featuring chickens:

Magic Body Control!

The weird “dance” that the chickens are doing in this video is based on their ability to stabilize their heads. In other words, chickens like to keep their heads in one place as they move around. This enables them to focus better on one area, so they are more likely to see the movement of predators or small, tasty bugs in their line of vision.

According to Mercedes Benz, this mesmerizing ability of chickens is similar to the “magic” ability of their vehicle to absorb bumps in the pavement and give a smoother riding sensation to the human passengers.

Jaguar responded to this ad campaign with their own chicken commercial, in which the magic dancing chicken meets a bad end:

Jaguar vs. Chicken

Although the focus of these commercials is supposed to be luxury cars, we at Home to Roost feel that the dancing chickens are the real stars!

The ability of chickens to keep their heads in one place has been the subject of scientific study in Cell and other academic publications, as well as a host of less scientific but quite entertaining articles. When you see a flock of chickens bobbing their heads while they walk, you will now know what they are up to!

Upcoming Chicken Classes at Chicago Rebuilding Exchange

Home to Roost will be teaching five online classes for the Chicago Rebuilding Exchange, including two classes that are new for 2021: “Bird Brains: Flock Psychology” and “Quail: An Overview.” This is an opportunity for you to increase your practical knowledge of how to raise backyard chickens and quail, build safe and comfortable homes for your birds, and understand common chicken health issues. All classes are online. Register now at the links below!

NOTE: All classes are geared to the Chicagoland area, including predators and climate.

Basic Backyard Chicken Keeping – Online, February 8, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Chicken Coop Basics – Online, February 11, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

NEW! Bird Brains: Flock Psychology – Online, February 22, 6:30 pm – 7:15 pm

NEW! Quail: An Overview – Online, March 3, 6:30 pm – 7:15 pm

Chicken Health – Online, April 5, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Christmas Message from Home to Roost

Photos and Design: Courtesy of Jennifer Gilstrap

We at Home to Roost want to wish all the chicken lovers out there a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! If you keep chickens, please hug a hen for us today, and make sure all your chickens are safe and warm. Here’s wishing good health to us all, chickens included, in 2021!

In need of a last-minute stocking stuffer gift for the chicken lover in your life? Home to Roost LLC is offering gift certificates for chicken consulting services! To begin the process, fill out this Google Form:

Purchase Home to Roost Gift Certificate

For the affordable price of $60 (convenience and mileage fees may apply), your friend gets a session of chicken consulting. Chicken consultant Jennifer Murtoff will help the chicken keeper with issues related to chicks, adult birds, coops, health, and nutrition. Purchase one or more sessions via PayPal.

Please note: Make sure to enter the email address in the “Send Money” field when paying by PayPal.

You or the gift recipient will receive a certificate stating the amount of the gift and instructions for redeeming it. Certificates can be sent by e-mail or regular mail.

Wishing you safe and happy holiday celebrations!

Chicken Art gifts for the holidays!

We are fortunate to have discovered some amazing artists who make the chicken their subject. Like many chicken keepers I could mention, these artists’ love for chickens apparently has no bounds, as is evident in their marvelous creations:

Folk Art Chicken Footstools

A small Missouri company makes these gorgeous footstools using traditional fiber art techniques–dyeing, felting, spinning, and knitting. This is Little Nancy P., and her feathers are fashioned with hand-spun 100% Merino wool. Made by The City Girl Farm, these chicken footstools may be on the higher end pricewise, but they elevate the humble footstool into a work of art. And their heads even bob! In fact, if I had one of these I would never put my feet on it.

The Rainbow Rooster

The Rainbow Rooster features “Prismatic Chicks Bearing Special Gifts Just for You,” painted by artist Alicia Zenobia. And what gifts they are: birds with marvelous plumage, each feather painted with care. Each of her paintings holds a special energy; see which one resonates with you!

Chicken Portraits by Photographer Liz McCrory

Photographer Liz McCrory of Kosmic Studio has embarked on an unusual project that caught our attention here at Home to Roost — portraits of pet chickens! We think the results are quite impressive, presenting these birds as little works of art and capturing their unique personalities. Liz is offering an end-of-year special: She will create pet portraits for $100 during the month of January! If you have ever wanted to immortalize your pet in a special portrait, now is the time.

The Electrifying Chicken Art of Heid in My World

Digital artist Heide Royer calls her unusual chicken portraits “kinetic art.” Others might call them stunning, arresting, choose your adjective: there is no question, her chicks demand attention. Heide also creates portraits of dogs and other animals, and accepts commissions from pet owners. View her work at

“Laid in the USA” by Mercedese Bantz

On the lighter side, Mercedese Bantz is an artist who creates incredibly fun paintings and sculptures, not only of chickens. But I am definitely biased in favor of her imaginative and fun birds! Mercedese will consider custom order requests. I asked her to paint a picture of the chickens I had as a kid, and I absolutely love the result!

Five Fascinating Facts about Eggs

Chicken eggs are a great source of nutrition. But there is much more to know about the humble egg, often considered nature’s perfect food:

  1. When a young hen first starts laying eggs, they may be strange shapes or sizes until the hen adjusts to the laying process. Eggs may be smaller or larger than normal, have soft shells, or even no shells at all. Tiny eggs may have no yolks, while giant eggs may have two or even three yolks.

  2. Chicken eggs are not just white or brown, like the eggs commonly sold in grocery stores. Some breeds lay copper-colored eggs, others light blue eggs, and some even lay green eggs. So Dr. Seuss’ book Green Eggs and Ham was not so far-fetched after all! Contrary to popular belief, egg color does not affect the taste of the eggs.

  3. Female chicks are born with all the eggs they will eventually lay. These eggs, or ova, look like a cluster of tiny grapes in the bird’s ovary. Only a small number of the existing ova will be laid as eggs.

  4. Hens lay eggs regardless of whether a rooster is present to fertilize them. Laying an egg is equivalent to ovulation. It is not the same as having a baby!

  5. Stressed-out hens are not good layers. Some common sources of stress include extremely hot or cold weather, predators, unfamiliar food, new living quarters, a new chicken in the flock, or loud noises. So tone down the party music near the coop! Your ladies need some peace and quiet while they are engaged in the very important process of laying eggs.

This holiday season, give the gift of chicken care from Home to Roost!

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Gilstrap

Gift certificates for chicken consulting sessions
are now available from Home to Roost!

You need the perfect gift for the chicken keeper who has everything! Home to Roost LLC is now offering gift certificates for in-home and Zoom consultations. Chicken consultant Jennifer Murtoff will help the chicken keeper in your life with issues related to chicks, adult birds, coops, health, and nutrition.

For the affordable price of $60 (convenience and mileage fees may apply), your friend gets a session of chicken consulting. Purchase one or more sessions via PayPal. To begin the process, click on this link:

Purchase Home to Roost Gift Certificate

Please note: Make sure to enter the email address in the “Send Money” field when paying by PayPal.

You or the chicken lover in your life will receive a certificate stating the amount of the gift and instructions for redeeming it.

Happy holidays and stay safe out there!

Photo courtesy Jennifer Gilstrap