Backyard chickens

By Vicki Hyatt | Apr 03, 2013


For Waynesville builder Jonathan Landry and his wife, Abby, raising chickens in their back yard was the perfect answer to several concerns.

“We tried to think of all the ways we could have our own food,” he said. “We’re involved with the Haywood beekeepers and have a large garden. Getting a few chickens made perfect sense.”

While they knew little about the process beforehand, online research provided plenty of options. From there, it was learning by doing.

The couple decided on a chicken coop blueprint that repeatedly surfaced, and spent a bit extra on the wire to keep out predators. Landry crafted a coop out of left over lumber at JL Builders, his father-in-law’s business that he joined after marrying Abby in 2011.

Jim and Vicky Lanning joined the effort, converting an old tree house into a coop at their place.

The families decided on a “variety pack” of chicken breeds, something that resulted in a rainbow of egg colors.

They started with several-day old chicks, which they kept in a plywood box under incubator lights for several weeks. Within a few months, the hens were laying eggs.

On a good day, Landry can get six eggs out his his flock of six, but other times, there’s only three or four. Still, it’s enough to supply their needs and have left over eggs for friends and extended family.

The Landrys have neighbors all around, so take special efforts to keep odor down. That includes using 6 to 8 inches of pine shavings within the coop. The shavings absorb the odor and make great fertilizer.

“It’s a perfect circle of life,” he said. “We feed scraps from the garden to the chickens, and then use the manure on the garden. It seems pretty simple.”

The benefit is not only fresh eggs, but knowing that a staple in family meas is among the healthiest and tastiest around.

Learn more at EcoFest

Jonathan Landry will share his experiences on raising backyard chickens at EcoFest, a May 4 festival to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Haywood Community College campus. EcoFest is Haywood County’s newest festival designed to inspire, teach you and entertain.

Applications are still being accepted for those who would like to make a 45-minute presentation on planting, growing or preserving food, an aspect of green living or a craft you are passionate about.

For details, check out the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce website, or visit