by coop, backyard chicken keeping is gaining ground in
my area of Hampton Roads, Va., and elsewhere.
in 2010 with 30 chicken enthusiasts, PeCK, or Peninsula
Chicken Keepers, now has 450 members, according to
founder Carol Bartram of Yorktown, Va. The group
networks and offers monthly meetings with speakers, as
well as help for newbies.
of them weren’t allowed to have chickens where they
lived, and many folks were asking how to get that
changed," says Bartram of that first meeting. She
and husband, Scott, first became interested in backyard
chickens after reading the article "City
Chicks" in Natural Home and Garden magazine in
after that first meeting, Bartram found herself helping
a Yorktown resident get her two acres permitted for
chickens. In the past five years, more and more cities
and counties in southeastern Virginia changed
regulations to allow hens and sometimes roosters.
Roads as a whole is becoming more
chicken-friendly," says Bartram.
follows a movement across the country. It’s really
part of a larger sustainability movement."
PeCK sponsored a self-guided tour of backyard chicken
coops, so the curious could talk to chicken keepers
about the pros and cons of maintaining a small block.
are three backyard chicken habitats that were on that
Virginia Peninsula tour:
coop in Hampton, Va.
backyard gardener for 23 years and Master Gardener since
2012, Jenny Justice always loved farm life, although she
has always lived city style in Hampton.
grandparents had a farm in the mountains of southwest
Virginia, and I loved visiting and helping with the farm
animal chores," says Justice, 62.
Hampton started talking about changing its
chicken-keeping rules, Justice was soon hatching ideas
for her own backyard flock.
got our girls – four Rhode Island Red hens — Mother’s
Day 2014 when they were 10 weeks old," she says.
(the coop) has wonderful features that allow me to
collect eggs from outside the coop and a completely
can also open their small door to the coop to let them
out in the mornings and close them up for the night, and
open and close their window from outside the run. The
back of the coop completely opens up to allow for ease
pros outweigh the cons: fresh eggs, manure to compost
and use to fertilize the garden, weed control and the
sheer enjoyment of watching and interacting with them. I
love the way they run to the door of the run to greet me
when I come out the back door. Of course, they are
hoping for a treat of cracked corn or leftovers from
dinner but don’t seem to take offense if they don’t
coop in Yorktown, Va.
Gould started studying chicken-keeping a year before
they moved from Germany to Yorktown, Va.
husband thought I was crazy, but I was determined to
raise a few chicks for clean eggs for my family,"
says Gould, 38.
research, Gould read "Backyard Farming on an Acre
(More or Less)" cover to cover, more than once, she
adds. She asked her chicken-keeping neighbor many
questions, and signed up for PeCK’s newsletters, read
its blogs and took its coop tour.
allows her chickens to roam the yard, but does keep the
couple’s personal food-gardening area fenced off from
daughter feeds and puts the chickens away nightly, and
they all watch and corral them as needed. Everyone helps
with coop and yard cleanup. Even the family’s
14-year-old golden retriever lives in peace with the
chickens that quietly graze around the dog when she’s
in the yard.
the yard, the hens love eating seed heads on grass and
any chickweed that sprouts.
are great gardeners, even if they do ‘replant’
things for me," Gould says.
sweet companions in the yard when I’m weeding."
coop in Newport News, Va.
the Burkhart home in Newport News, chicken-keeping
chores help teach the kids — Isabella, 17, and Amos,
14 — entrepreneurship, work ethic and responsibility,
according to their parents, Janie and Fritz.
home school Amos and he’s home all day, and this gives
him something to tend to and care for," says Janie.
grew up on a farm and had chickens along with other farm
animals 35 years ago, so that experience came in handy.
They connected with PeCK and related websites,
especially Backyard Chickens. Their coop for 12 chickens
is homemade from white fencing that was being torn down
at a local funeral home. Exercise runs for the chicken
attach to the coop.