Raising Chickens : Urban Farming for the Intermediate Grades

Harmon feeds chickenThe term “urban farming” usually brings up visions of gardens, especially vegetable gardens, in backyards and containers and even on rooftops.
Chickens might not seem a good topic for an article on urban farming, but there are more of them in our cities than you might think. Chickens are often abandoned and left to roam the streets in cities after they stop being fluffy and cute or after people lose interest in their hobby. They are rescued from places where they are neglected or abused.

My niece Megan has always been concerned with animal welfare; through Gentle Touch Animal Sanctuary, she is involved in rescuing abandoned cats and rats and an occasional dog. Recently she and her husband Nick have been volunteering at the Minneapolis Chicken Run Rescue shelter, learning to become chicken fosters at their home in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Their son Harmon is also becoming a great little animal rescuer, and here he offers Cynthia the hen a treat at their first meeting.

Check out these books—both fiction and nonfiction—about owning and caring for chickens.

City Chickens Kid's Guide to Keeping Chickens Prairie Evers Secret Chicken Society Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

City Chickens by Christine Heppermann. 9780547518305. 2012. Gr 4-6.
This book describes the start of the Minneapolis Chicken Run Rescue shelter and explains why they rescue chickens from the streets of the Twin Cities. Their website also gives plenty of information on adopting and caring for chickens—information that is helpful no matter where you live. You can also check them out on Facebook.

A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens by Melissa Caughey. 9781612126487. 2015. Gr 4-7.
So you live in a city and have decided that you want to keep chickens . What do you need to know? This book is a great how-to for kids, providing information on housing and caring for chickens (including first aid) and training your flock. It also describes the different breeds of chickens, their anatomy, and how to breed them.

Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood. 9780399256912. 2012. Gr 4-6.
Prairie Evers has been homeschooled her entire life and is excited to attend a public school for the first time. But finding her way in school is very much like life among her chickens—not only does she feel cooped up, but there is a definite pecking order among the students. When she meets Ivy, she realizes that neither homeschooling nor raising chickens has prepared her for being a true friend.

The Secret Chicken Society by Judy Cox. 9780823423729. 2012. Gr 2-5.
When his third-grade class hatches chicks for a science project, Daniel is thrilled when his mom gives permission for him to take one home for the summer. His mom is not so thrilled, however, when he comes home with all FIVE. This is just the beginning of chaos and humor. But the situation grows serious when Daniel realizes that his favorite chick, Peepers, is a rooster—and roosters are forbidden within city limits. Can he keep his noisy fowl a secret from the neighbors and the police?

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones. 9780385755535. 2015. Gr 4-6.
This book is not about chickens in the city, but rather a city girl whose family has moved out to the farm. Taking care of chickens is a demanding task in the best of times, but these chickens are exceptional. Sophie’s story is told through letters, to-do lists, a correspondence course on chicken care, and more.

Fowl Chicken JokesFowl Chicken Jokes to Tickle Your Funny Bone by Amelia LaRoche. 9780766059634. 2015. Gr 2-4.
What do you call a crazy chicken that can tell time? A cuckoo cluck! Many of these jokes about chickens and other birds might be familiar to adults, but they will be a hit with kids. Included with the corny jokes are limericks, knock-knock jokes, and tongue twisters, as well as information about fowl and instructions on making a joke flipbook.