How to Get Started with Backyard Chickens

Enjoy collecting your own fresh eggs from your back garden

Zoë Poulsen
6 min readOct 25, 2021


Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash

Keeping backyard chickens is a pastime that is growing in popularity. There is a wonderful sense of satisfaction in wandering out of the house and collecting your own golden yolk fresh and free-range eggs for your breakfast.

A small flock of chickens can also form an integral part of your vegetable garden. They will enthusiastically devour any bugs and beasties you do not want to eat your vegetables such as caterpillars or slugs or shredding plant material for your compost heap. Your chickens will also love to eat kitchen scraps such as veggie peels too.

Choosing your Chickens

Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

With so many different breeds of chickens to choose from, it can be a little daunting for newbie chicken owners to decide which ones to get. One of the main things to consider is the amount of space you have available, with different breeds of chicken varying considerably in size.

The world’s largest chickens are the brahmas, which are a dual-purpose American breed known as the ‘king of chicken’. They grow to around 30 inches (75cm) tall and lay around 300 eggs per bird per year.

Another popular choice for gardeners with lots of space are the Orpington chicken, a British breed that reach around 7 to 8 pounds. They are a much-loved, docile breed that are a good choice to introduce children to the joys of keeping poultry.

If you have a smaller backyard, then it is worth considering one of the smaller or bantam breeds. Silkie chickens are easily recognisable by their fluffy plumage and come in different sizes and colours from black to buff or red. They make great pets and will lay you around 3–5 eggs per week.

Do I Need a Rooster?

Photo by Ricardo Porto on Unsplash

Hens will lay eggs for eating without having a rooster to fertilise them, so if you only want…



Zoë Poulsen

Botanist, freelance writer and conservationist based in Cape Town at the heart of South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region.