Chicago Honey Co-op
An urban beekeeping cooperative practicing sustainable agriculture, job training, and education in the North Lawndale neighborhood. Also offer beekeeping workshops.

West Side Bee Boyz
Provides consulting services and beekeeping management as well as selling bees, beekeeping equipment, and their own urban raw honey at local farmer's markets.

Garfield Park Conservatory
Offers Beekeeping classes and has a volunteer crew. For more information about the Beginning Beekeeping Classes, please contact Naaman Gambill at 773.638.1766 ext 20 or email

Windy City Bees Group
Has both in person get-togethers and skill shares, and a discussion list.

The Pilsen Beekeeping Club

Cook-DuPage Beekeepers
Monthly meetings -- a great place to connect with the old hands, and also find sources of nucleus colonies, hives and used equipment.

Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in Fairmont, Illinois. "Advanced Beekeeping Skills" class.

Bee classes at Antiquity Oaks Farm (about 90 minutes from the Kennedy), taught by Zan Asha, a third generation organic bee keeper from the Bronx who periodically offers classes in Illinois and Iowa.

Great overview of beekeeping in Chicago from AUA and CCE's 1st Annual Urban Livestock Expo:


Table of Contents


Egg-laying hens are the probably the most familiar of urban livestock animals, and are certainly the most popular among people getting started with food animals. People are drawn to chickens for many reasons. Maybe you are interested in:
  • High-quality eggs with known provenance
  • Exposing young people to food production
  • Enriching your personal connection to food and the environment

But how does one get started? Fortunately, a prospective backyard chicken keeper has a number of advantages:
  • Backyard chickens are legal in Chicago
  • It’s easier than it might seem
  • Chicago has an established resource network for support

With a small amount of preparation, you can set start producing all your family’s eggs. But you may ask yourself: How do I actually do this? Where do I buy an actual, live chicken? Where do they sell feed?
Before you imagine yourself driving a ZipCar out to a grain elevator somewhere in DeKalb County, you’ll be happy to know that several local businesses have everything you need - some of them deliver (scroll down or click here to view suppliers).
An example of a chick brooder via

What you need to keep chickens

1. Chicks & Brooder - Baby chicks need protection and a source of heat, so they need to live in a brooder to keep them safe from pets and children and to keep them warm until their feathers grow in. Pictured below is a brooder made from a dog kennel, cardboard box, and an incandescent light. Plans can be found online for other models.

2. Location - You need a location for your coop and run with both sunlight and shade, and have good drainage and ventilation. The size of your coop’s location isn’t particularly important, but remember that a coop needs to be able to keep cool in summer, and water for the chickens must stay in the shade. Humid, sunny days are actually more dangerous than cold, winter nights.

3. Rodent- and predator-proof coop, run, a heated waterer (in winter), and chew-proof feed storage - Basic equipment includes a feeder, a waterer (heated in winter) and chew-proof feed storage. The coop is where chickens lay their eggs and roost for the night, while the run is where they eat, drink and spend most of their waking time. When considering a coop, take into mind that, more important than a specific minimum amount of space per bird, all hens need enough room to scratch, to flap their wings, and to get some space away from each other when tensions arise within the flock.

Tavern Chicken Coop.jpg
An example of a pre-constructed coop via
You can build your own or buy a coop online. A good design will significantly reduce the amount of effort required. For example:
  • A heated waterer avoids the need to thaw out twice a day during winter months
  • A larger coop allows easy use of garden tools when managing litter

Safe, comfortable confinement is important. Chickens will eat your garden plants if you let them.

4. Litter and tools for manure management and composting - You will need material to line the coop, such as straw or pine shavings. This needs to be changed occasionally. After composting, it makes a great addition to the garden. One option is deep litter composting. This involves maintaining a thick bed of well-drained, turned litter to manage manure in a way that controls odor, flies, and uses minimal, if any, water. It yields an excellent product for enriching your garden soil.

An example of a deep litter floor via

5.Time - You will need time to feed and interact with your birds daily. Further guidelines can be found in the Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts' Recommended Practices guide.

6. Knowledge and a Plan - Learn the basics of chicken care by further reading and attending workshops. Determine who will open the coop to let the chickens out in the morning for feed, water and exercise, and who will close up the coop, put away the feed (to prevent pests) and collect the eggs. Hens lay up to one egg per day, although it varies by breed and by season. Hens don’t lay until they’re at least six months old, and often live well past their most productive egg-laying age. Decide what will you choose to do with an older hen that doesn’t lay much and if a chicken becomes sick or injured. Plan in advance if you will you involve an avian veterinarian or remove it from your flock, and how other family members may react to that.

6. Community buy-in - To prevent misunderstanding, consider how you will you let your neighbors know you respect their needs and sensibilities. For example, deep-litter composting with good drainage will control flies and odor. Roosters (famously noisy, though less so than a barking dog) are not necessary for egg production. Find out if your neighbor would appreciate some fresh eggs or the opportunity to learn about your flock.

Here is a great overview of chicken keeping in Chicago from AUA and CCE's 1st Annual Urban Livestock Expo:

Additional Resources
If you're ready for more detailed guidelines, the Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts (CCE) have assembled a terrific Windy City Backyard Chicken Resource Guide -- we recommend that you start there. In addition, we have included some super helpful links below.
Chicagoland Chicken Enthusiasts’ Recommended Practices
Backyard Chickens
Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts’ full website

Chicago Pet Direct/Backyard Chicken Run-Chicago’s home delivery service for the urban organic farmer and pet owner.
Christy Webber Landscapes Farm & Garden Center– (312) 829-8200, 2200 W Grand Ave. Chicago, IL 60612
These local vendors also offer live chick and/or laying-age hens (seasonal availability):
Belmont Feed & Seed(773) 588-1144, 3036 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
The Feed Store (708) 458-1327, 5408 S. Harlem, Summit, IL


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Great overview of goat keeping in Chicago from AUA and CCE's 1st Annual Urban Livestock Expo:


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Great overview of rabbit keeping in Chicago from AUA and CCE's 1st Annual Urban Livestock Expo:

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