Updated: May 11, 2022
By Jonathan Moyle

Raising a home chicken flock can be a good experience and a source of enjoyment. As a family project, it teaches about living beings and responsibility. The home chicken flock also can be an excellent source of low-cost, high-quality poultry products. This publication should provide the basic tools to start a successful flock.


  • Brodie, H.L., and L.E. Carr. 1997. Composting Animal Mortalities on the Farm. Maryland Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet 717.
  • Christian, A.H., G.K. Evanylo and J.W. Pearse, 2009. On-Farm Composting A Guide to Principles, Planning and Operations. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication 452-232.
  • Clauer, P, 2009 Small Scale Poultry Housing. Virginia Cooperative Extension. 2902-1092.
  • LaCross, C. and R.E. Graves, 1992. On-Farm Composting. Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension, Fact Sheet C 3.
  • Vest, L. and N. Dale. 2002. Nutrition for the backyard flock. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Leaflet 396.


Suggested Reading

For copies of the following publications, contact their publishers. Those publications with no price listed are free.


  • A Guide to Better Hatching. 1975. Stromber Publishing Company; Pine River, MN 56474. $9.95
  • Avoiding Residues in Small Poultry and Game Bird Flocks. PNE Publication 564. 2003. Washington State Cooperative Extension; Pullman, WA 99164.
  • Bantam Standard. 2006. American Bantam Association; P.O. Box 127, Augusta, NJ 07822. $35.00
  • Bantams. North Central Extension Publication 209. Cooperative Extension Service, University of Wisconsin; Madison, WI 53706.
  • Biosecurity for Poultry. VME Factsheet. 2001. Teresa Y. Morishita. Ohio State University Extension. Columbus, OH 43210.
  • Biosecurity for Poultry at Community Farms. Publication 8280, McCrea,and F. Bradley. 2008. University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Common Lice and Mites of Poultry: Identification and Treatment. Publication 8162, McCrea, J. Jeffrey, R. Ernst and A.Gerry. 2005. University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Considerations in Raising Small Backyard Flocks of Poultry in Population-Dense Communities. 02pr Publication. 2009. David Frame. Utah State University Cooperative Extension. Logan, UT 84322.
  • Capons. Fact sheet 54. 2000. University of Florida Extension. Gainesville, FL 32611.
  • Exhibiting Poultry for Pleasure and Profit. 1978. Stromber Publishing Company; Pine River, MN 56474. $10.95
  • Home Processing of Poultry. ANSI-8400. 2004. Oklahoma State Cooperative Extension. Stillwater, OK 74078.
  • Homemade Comfort Cages for Small Poultry Flocks. Fact Sheet 429. University of Maryland Extension. College Park, MD 20742.
  • Incubating and Hatching Eggs. B-6092. 2000. Texas Agricultural Extension Service. College Station, TX 77863.
  • Poultry-A Guide to Anatomy and Selected Species. Wilson, D. University of Illinois.
  • Poultry Showmanship. 4-H 2060. 1980. Ralph Ernst. University of California Davis, CA 95616.
  • Prevention – A Young Person’s Guide to Keeping Animals Safe and Healthy. Available at Colorful, 20-page booklet appropriate for all types of people keeping poultry. Can be reproduced locally.
  • Principles of Feeding Small Flocks of Chicken at Home. 2008. David Frame. Utah State University Cooperative Extension. Logan, UT 84322.
  • Salsbury Manual of Poultry Diseases. 7th ed. Salsbury Laboratories, Inc.; Charles City, IA 50616
  • Sexing All Fowl, Baby Chicks, Gamebirds, Cage Birds. 1977. Stromberg Publishing Company; Pine River, MN 56474. $9.95
  • Small Meat Processors
  • Sources of Poultry and Supplies for Small Flocks. Yearly. University of Maryland Extension, College Park, MD 20742.
  • The Standard of Perfection. 2001. American Poultry Association. Burggettstown, PA 15021. $59.00.
  • 1984 Yearbook of Agriculture, Animal Health, Livestock and Pets. Section II. Backyard Poultry and Pet Birds. Twelve chapters, pages 11 to 110. Available nationwide in many county libraries or Extension offices.


Publications on Other Species

  • Agriculture Alternative – Rhea Production. 1994. Penn State Cooperative Extension Service; State College, PA 16801.
  • Brooding and Rearing Ducklings and Goslings. G8920. 1993. University of Missouri Extension. St. Louis, MO 63180.
  • Emu Production. 1996. Joan Jeffery. Texas Cooperative Extension. College Station, TX 77843.
  • Hatching Ostrich Chicks. ANSI-9013. 2009. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. Stillwater, OK 74078. $0.20.
  • Ostrich Production. ANSI 3988. 2007. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service; Stillwater, OK 74078. $0.20.
  • Raising Bobwhite Quail for Commercial Use. Circular 514. 1990. Cooperative Extension Service, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29631.
  • Raising Ducks. WW01189. 2008. University of Minnesota Extension. Minneapolis, MN 55455.
  • Raising Ducks in Small Flocks. 2980. 2000. University of California Cooperative Extension. Davis, CA 95616.
  • Raising Geese. Farmers Bulletin 2251. 1983. United States Department of Agriculture. Washington, DC 20250. $0.25 (Minimum order of $1).
  • Raising Guinea Fowl. Leaflet 519. 1976. United States Department of Agriculture; Washington, DC 20250. $0.25 (Minimum order of $1).
  • Raising Waterfowl. A3311. 1985. Cooperative Extension Service, University of Wisconsin; Madison, WI 53706.
  • Small Turkey Flock Management. North Central Regional Extension Publication No. 60. 1981. Cooperative Extension Service, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.
  • 4-H Pigeon and Dove Project. 4-H 154. 2008. Oregon State University Extension Service. Portland, OR 97209. $2.50.


Raising your Home Chicken Flock
Originally prepared by:
Charles J. Wabeck, Extension Poultry and Food Product Specialist
University of Maryland

Updated in 2010 by:
Jennifer R. Timmons, Regional Poultry Specialist
Jennifer L. Rhodes, Principal Agent, Agricultural and Natural Resources
University of Maryland Extension
J. Richard Nottingham, Educator, Agricultural and Natural Resources
University of Maryland Extension
Dale Johnson, Farm Management Specialist
University of Maryland Extension


Front cover photograph courtesy of
Edwin H. Remsberg, Photographer
University of Maryland

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Maryland, College Park, and local governments. Cheng-i Wei, Director of University of Maryland Extension.
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