Chicken Addiction and the Urban Chicken Owner

Updated on July 30, 2019
Maggie Bonham profile image

Maggie Bonham, or Margaret H. Bonham, is a multiple award-winning pet author and expert. She has written more than 20 books on pets.

"Hi, I'm Maggie, and I'm a chicken addict."

You may be laughing right now, but I'll admit, I have a chicken problem. Like many of my fellow chicken owners, I've been befuddled by what is now termed "chicken math." In chicken math, 6 chickens somehow equal 24, 15, 57, or 108. Grown adults who have gone to college, and in my case, have engineering degrees, are seemingly befuddled by the concept that we're only going to own 6 chickens (or whatever the number). As a result, we end up owning a whole flock of birds.

Beginnings of Addiction

Oddly enough, it seems like an innocent sort of hobby. I wanted fresh eggs and maybe some birds to provide meat. I even thought they'd be entertaining. Instead, I found myself purchasing fuzzy butt chicks for one to five bucks. I told myself that they were cheep, er, I mean cheap, and I could afford them. I also reminded myself that chicks do die and that despite all the best efforts of sexing, some cockerels (baby roosters) get slipped into the pullet (hen) bin.

It's more insidious than that, however. A chicken isn't just a chicken. There are brown egg layers, white egg layers, blue and green egg layers, and even chocolate egg layers. There are bantams (miniature chickens) and standards. Then there are breeds such as Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, Leghorns, Ameraucanas, Easter Eggers, Barnevelders, Silkies . . . well, you get the picture.

Urban Chickens

Do you own urban chickens?

See results

The Lure of Chickens

The reality is that chickens have personalities and they're entertaining. You can sit and watch chickens and their flock dynamics for hours with fascination and not be bored. (Try that with television!) Some chickens are friendlier than others, and some, like the bantams, are bred to be pets rather than food or egg layers. Once you get beyond the brooder stage, they're ridiculously easy to care for: feed, water, adequate housing (which includes predator protection, usually a good fence), and space is all they need. Also, they make you breakfast nearly every day—what a useful pet.

Even at the brooder stage, they're pretty simple to care for. You keep them in an area under a brooder lamp, make sure the temperature is right, keep the chicks contained and free from drafts, and add feed and water. They're ridiculously cute, too.

Urban Chicken Considerations

Most people who live in an urban environment can't have as many chickens as I have (24 at present), however, it doesn't mean that you can't have chickens at all. Many municipalities have allowed urban chicken owners to have small flocks. Check out your current laws either by contacting your municipality or look at the laws as they are updated on BYC.

One handy fact about chickens is that they come in two sizes: full and bantam. The bantam chicks lay smaller eggs, but they're a lot smaller than their full-size counterparts (about ¼ the size of a regular chicken). What's more, they're usually friendlier and more people-oriented than the bigger guys. Plus, smaller chickens equal less feed, less poop, and less space needed.

Most municipalities ban roosters (because they're noisy), but those that allow chickens usually allow a small flock. You'll need a coop big enough for your chickens that won't be an eyesore to your neighbors (you can build or buy one), and, of course, you'll need chickens. You can get them at a feed store, or, if you're really an urban dweller, you can order them online from various hatcheries.

If you do decide to get chickens, remember that chickens are plural. A single chicken is an unhappy chook. You need at least a buddy to keep her happy, since chickens are flock creatures. More, of course, is better, provided that you have the space for them.

Chicken Math

The good folks on BackyardChickens have come up with a saying called "chicken math." Basically, you start out thinking you'll get 2 to 6 chickens and end up with dozens more. The problem is you rationalize that chickens aren't costly, don't take up that much room, and you could maybe sell the eggs. This may be very dangerous to the urban chicken owner whose municipalities clearly state that they can't have more than a certain number of birds. Some owners have gone so far as to go underground and break the law, owning more chickens than is legal.

While I don't advocate that, chickens are addictive, which means before you know it, you'll be bumping up against whatever chicken laws limit the number of chickens. Heaven help you if you get a rooster, because sexing errors do occur even at major hatcheries. It just gives you an excuse to sell or give away your rooster and get more chickens.

The trick is to get enough chickens to satisfy your egg needs, keep each other company, and stay within parameters of the law. If you become addicted like I am, pretty soon you'll be looking to move to the country where you can satisfy your addiction to your heart's content.

Only don't blame me, I warned you about the "chicken math" thing.

Gateway Livestock

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2015 MH Bonham


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Maggie Bonham profile imageAUTHOR

      MH Bonham 

      5 years ago from Missoula, Montana

      Thanks so much!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have been considering getting a few chickens myself, even did the research on what types are out there, who lays the most eggs, and who gives the most meat. Funny thing is, that in all my research I don't think I ever came across the chicken math factor. So I'm glad I read your article as I think I was dismissing the chicken addiction as a need for saving money on eggs and meat. Now I realize it is more than that, it is an addiction, as I have spent only a little bit of time with my neighbors chickens and already wanted a whole flock. Luckily I live in the country already, but I think that its great that you put a link for people who are urban dwellers to learn about how many chickens they are allowed.

    • peachpurple profile image


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      My sister in law used to rear her own urban chickens and ducks, really tasted different from market


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)