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Bringing The Chickens Home To Roost in Easton

EASTON, Conn. – Life is good for the five chickens in Lori Cochran-Dougall’s back yard.

They have an extra large coop to play in, the family dog doesn't bother them and sometimes they get the scraps of local, organic foods from Cochran-Dougall’s kitchen.

“Some people would say this pen is like a mansion for chickens,” laughs Cochran-Dougall, pointing to a custom-built coop. “But we really love having them and taking care of them. So we like them to be comfortable.”

The family’s five hens, named Hoot, Hawk Bait, Freckles, Art and Gray Surfer, are various heritage breeds.

“Rhode Islands Reds are definitely the most popular chickens you’ll find people raising," she said. "But we went with lesser-known breeds like Bantam. Some of the smaller breeds are becoming so rare that they can be tough to find, so we wanted to do a little something to help the breeds survive. We work with a woman in Weston who breeds heritage chickens.”

Depending on the breed, Cochran-Dougall says the chickens usually cost anywhere between $5 and $20. “We get them at about 15 weeks old. They’re called younglings. And about eight weeks later, they start laying eggs.”

Fresh eggs aren't the only reason to raise chickens in your back yard. Cochran-Dougall swears by them for pest control.

“Before we had the chickens, we had a terrible tick problem in the yard. But these little girls love to eat ticks. Since we got the chickens a year ago, we haven’t had a problem.”

Raising chickens in the back yard is a rising trend, says Cochran-Dougall, the director of the Westport Farmers’ Market.

“We are definitely living in a time when buying local is cool," she said. "Farming is cool. I think people have a real desire to reconnect with the land and with the food we eat. I see a need for basics and simplicity. Sitting on your porch watching chickens peck around your yard is pretty simple. And nothing beats saying to your kids in the morning, ‘go get some eggs’ and making breakfast with the eggs they bring in from the yard.”

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