City Chickens

Chickens are moving to the suburbs; they used to be commonplace, even in more populated areas, but societal changes and regulations kept them out of city limits. However, recent trends of homesteading and self-sufficiency, as well as the popularization of chickens on social media, have led to changes in city rules as people fight for the right to have chickens. 

Recently, a band of chicken lovers got Oconomowoc to alter their stance on chickens, and they are now permitted within the city. However, the ownership of chickens is controlled, with various regulations in place. These include aspects like lot dimensions, coop placement, and number of birds permitted. 

So, what is up with city chickens? This blog post seeks to provide a simple guide to chickens, from their history, a step by step to getting chickens, and some different types of chickens to consider getting. 


Originally from Asia, chickens rapidly became popular across the World, creating a fervent “Hen Fever.” Chickens in America roamed backyards, raised by families, for meat or egg production in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It wasn’t until ideas on how people should interact with animals changed, mainly due to the push for industrialization, that chicken raising also became industrial. Suddenly, farm animals were seen as unclean; many considered raising animals for food production a “lower-class” activity. 

Then, in the 1920s, the US Supreme Court upheld the ability and legality of municipalities to regulate land use; this ruling allowed localities to control chicken husbandry. Urban sprawl, after WWII, only cemented the idea that urban and rural practices should be kept separate. This local control, coupled with the low prices of chicken due to industrialization, limited the practice of raising chicken amongst the masses. 

However, with the broader acceptance of homesteading and other self-sufficiency practices, many people have decided to bring chickens back to the backyard, to get dozens of fresh eggs or enjoy their feathered friends company. 


Of course, there are some things to consider with city chickens, including . . . 


There are believed to be 100’s of different types of chickens (although only 65 are officially recognized), and each breed has a different purpose. Most breeds are divided into four categories: egg layers, dual-purpose, meat birds, and pet chickens. 

Those looking to get city chickens will likely want to nix any meat birds immediately, as most localities will not permit raising meat birds. 

Below we’ve highlighted a few egg laying and more pet chicken types, although there are plenty more to choose from. This site or this one here are both great resources for learning more about chicken breeds.



Leghorns are a smaller breed of chicken and are more flighty and nervous. They are white with large red combs. They are very heat tolerant but may not handle the cold as well. In terms of egg production, you can expect 280 large or extra large white eggs per year or 5 to 6 per week. Due to their flighty nature, they may not be the best bird for a beginner’s flock. 

Rhode Island Red

These hens are reddish-brown and very good layers. They are self-sufficient and low maintenance, but can be more aggressive with other chickens than other breeds. In terms of egg production, you can expect 300 large brown eggs per year or around 6 per week. These chickens are great for beginners. 

Plymouth Barred Rock

These black and white hens can withstand cold winters and are traditionally easy keepers. In terms of egg production, you can expect 200 medium pale tan eggs per year or 4 to 5 per week. These chickens can lay eggs for ten years (compared to 5 to 8 years for most other breeds).


These chickens come in a few different colors and are quite large. They are very friendly, personal, and cold-hardy. You can expect 200 to 280 eggs per year in terms of egg production.

Easter Egger

Easter eggers are a hybrid breed of chicken. Lots of people like them as they lay eggs that can range in colors, from green, blue, olive, and even pink (however, each hen will only lay one color so if you want the rainbow, you’ll need more than one Easter Egger). 


These solid black hens are rather large, friendly, and talkative. They are also cold-hardy. In terms of egg production, you can expect 250 large light brown eggs per year or 5 to 6 per week. 



Silkies are small chickens with fluffy feathers that almost look more like fur. They are not known for their laying ability, but are very personable and considered great chickens with children. They also come in a variety of colors, including: white, black, blue, gray, partridge chocolate, and so many more (some can be seen in the graphic above)! However, they tend to go broody (wanting to sit on eggs), and then they will not lay. You can expect 3-4 small eggs per week when they are laying.


These birds are fluffy all the way down to their feet. They are sweet, personable, and very friendly. They come in both standard and bantam (smaller chicken) sizes (the bantam size is displayed above). But, like the silkie, they tend to go broody wanting to hatch out chicks; when they are laying eggs, you can expect 3 to 4 medium light brown eggs per week. 


People love the look of the polish chicken with their hairdo and many color varieties. However, they are very docile, so they will typically be lower on the pecking order. It’s best to raise them with their coop mates, so they are not too fearful. Their feather poof can sometimes get in the way of their vision, but it can be remedied with a quick trim. They are not great egg layers and will only lay 2 to 3 smallish-medium white eggs. 


If you’d like a good breakdown of chickens and their stats, from the ability for confinement to heat tolerance, check out this website! They haven’t done every breed yet, but they are working on them. 

We’ve only included a few chicken breeds here, but there are many more. Checking out hatcheries or local chicken breeders is the best way to learn about all the different breeds available to you. 


For those who live in Oconomowoc, chicken keeping is under Ordinance 21-0997. You can learn more by accessing the following document: Chicken Keeping Ordinance (Oconomowoc)

Remember that even though Oconomowoc may allow chickens,  if you live in an HOA, they may not allow them. Additionally, your lot size many not be able to accommodate them. 


Chickens are egg-cellent pets, whether you live in the city or country. If you’re city, HOA, and lot (based on your city’s restrictions) allows for the raising of chickens and you can commit the time, money, and energy to them, then you should certainly consider adding some poultry friends to your yard!




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