GETTING BIRDS (around Champaign-Urbana, IL)

There are several ways to get hens. I'd advise against mail ordering day-old chicks from the big hatcheries, given (warning: linked video may be disturbing) how birds are treated in most big hatcheries. There are other local options:

Above: a pic of the sign (showing hours) outside the Arthur Sale Barn.

Above: a pic of the sign (showing hours) outside the UIUC Egg Sales outfit.


Our coop has gone through a few stages of development, but currently looks like the picture below. The human door (open at right in the image) is for going into the coop to gather eggs and clean it out; around to the left is the door to the run.Behind the coop, not visible in the image, is a smaller chicken door for, well, chickens.

Here is a pic of our old coop, which our flock outgrew, taken while we were building it. We ended up building the new coop on top of the old one, using the same frame. This pic shows how our coops are built mainly with scrap and found wood/windows.


Our flock started out (in 2008) with two Barred Plymouth Rocks (Henny Penny and Barndog) and two Guinnea Fowl (Larry and King). We got them at the Wettstein's Farm out west of Bloomington, IL. The Wettsteins had only had the barred rocks for a couple of weeks, having picked them up at the Arthur Sale Barn.

Above is a pic of the barred rocks; below is a pic of the barred rocks with the Guinnea Fowl along with our amazing Chicken Dog. After some delay, we ended up sending our Guinnea Fowl off to a nearby farm because they were just too dang noisy for our residential neighborhood.

A few weeks after shipping the Guinnea Fowl off to a farm, I got an email from Michelle, the gal who took them. The Guinnea Hen was sitting on a clutch of 27 eggs, as you can see in the cool pic below! :)

Next we incubated and hatched Kong (a Light Brahma) and Fey (a bantam Black something-or-other). When Kong's dudeness became too obvious to ignore, we found a home for him at our neighbor's mom's farm down south.

After that we talked to Chet (details below) and landed four Rhode Island Reds. Two more came our way from a friend, so as of January 2010 we have six reds, Fey, and Henny Penny. Here's a pic of two of our reds crammed into one nesting box:

Here are few more pics of the flock (taken in 2011):


Our original coop had a fairly simple run made out of chicken wire. I think we referred to it as having a POW aesthetic. After about a year, though, some kind of critter got under the wire and killed one of our birds. (Barndog, R.I.P.)

That prompted us to get serious. We dug a six-inch trench around the entire perimeter of the run, burried heavy-gauge construction cloth in the trench (with bricks followed by dirt), and constructed a sound frame for the run out of 2x4s. It took us a solid day of work to install the new run, but was worth it for the peace of mind it affords. We haven't lost a bird since.


We've tried to hatch chicken eggs twice, once with eggs from our own birds and once from eggs we ordered online. Our boy Kong must have been shooting blanks, because the eggs from our birds did not end up being fertilyzed. We had better luck (but not great luck) with the eggs we ordered online.

Here's a short video of our first egg (Fey) hatching:

And here she is when she's a day or two old:

Contact me via email for chicken-related banter.

To connect with other people interested in chickens in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, check out the Urbana Chicken Effort email list via Yahoo Groups.

As of January 2010, backyard chickens are still outlawed in Champaign, Illinois.


Site constructed 1.2010. Last tweak 10.2011.