Martha Stewart’s advice on keeping backyard chickens

Martha Stewart and chicks
My hands are still shaking! I just had the most lovely chat with…

…Martha Stewart.


We had tea and chatted about keeping backyard chickens. Well, I had tea. I don’t know what she was drinking. We were on the phone. I called into her radio show.

So back down to earth. (Wait, one more SQUEAL!) Anyway…She very graciously gave some great advice on the topic of keeping backyard chickens.

Living in Chicago, how cold is too cold and what temperature range should the chickens be kept in?

Martha says that just above freezing, around 40 degrees, is fine. Be sure to have electricity run to your coop and include an electric warmer so their drinking water doesn’t freeze. Obviously a heat lamp would be in order.

With regard to kitchen scraps, is there anything the chickens shouldn’t eat?

Martha says that they will eat just about everything. She feeds her flock everything from banana peels to grass clippings and they’ll devour it all. She also mentions not to worry about keeping a balance of kitchen scraps and organic chicken feed, that the chickens will empty the feeder when they see fit. -And apparently chickens do not care for onion skins, which is fine. I don’t care for them either. Martha reminds that the girls need fresh water every single day without fail.

Our backyard is covered with pea gravel. Is this OK for the chickens?

Martha says that the pea gravel is perfect for chickens and, in fact, they love it. It cleans up very easily, just hose it down. As long as the gravel isn’t sharp or feels OK for you to walk on, then the chickens will be just fine.

Martha’s recommended reading on keeping backyard chickens:

Thank you Martha. That positively made my day week month!

PostScript: Here’s how I got to speak with Ms. Stewart. I just called into her XM radio show when I saw her Tweet that she was looking for callers. That’s it! No magical happenstance. Give it a try! And please be sure to post if you get through and what you chat about.