Neighbors Help Make Backyard Flocks Possible

Occasionally a friend visits us at Winding Pathways.  He’s a retired professor of ornithology…..a bird guy. The first thing he does is “go visit our girls”. These girls are our backyard chicken flock.


Our chickens are attractions that entice friends here and are ambassadors of positive neighbor relations. Our hens give us eggs while showing visitors how well these fascinating food producing animals fit into modern lives and suburban backyards.


We live in an urban world. A couple of generations ago most Americans grew up on farms or in small rural towns. Although they now live in a modern suburb they have a basic understanding of animal husbandry.


That’s changed. Today most people are two or three generations removed from the farm. They grew up in vast suburbs or cities and lack personal connection with farm animals. Most only know chickens as plastic wrapped meat sold at the grocery store or the bird flu scares on media.


Neighbors with no experience tending chickens might believe they are smelly, noisy animals that belong on the farm but not in the backyard. If they call city hall to complain a family might be forced to get rid of their flock. Encouraging neighbors to experience live chickens helps them understand how diverse, beautiful, and useful they are and reduce the odds of a complaint. Visiting the flock might even convince a neighbor to build a coop and keep their own hens.


There’s another reason to introduce neighbors to a backyard flock. We like to travel. And, chickens need care every day. Sometimes twice a day. Neighbors familiar with our chickens and their care often are happy to come by and care for the birds when we’re on a camping trip. Their reward is bringing home delicious eggs.


Here is what we do at Winding Pathways to help our neighbors appreciate our flock, while helping us recruit volunteers to tend the chickens when we need to travel:

  • Keep the coop immaculate by regularly dusting, cleaning windows, removing cobwebs, and adding a fresh layer of pine chips to the litter. The coop always has the pleasant aroma of a pine forest.
  • Invite neighbors to visit and see our chickens. Even a brief coop visit to introduce them to real live chickens may pique their curiosity and dispel the fear that they’re smelly and noisy.
  • We especially welcome children to see baby chicks, collect eggs, and take some home to cook for the family. We make sure everyone washes hands after being around chickens and handling eggs.
  • Share eggs with neighbors. People love fresh eggs.
  • Keep a Hoover’s Hatchery catalog in the coop to share with visitors. It’s a beautiful and valuable reference guide. People have fun looking at catalog photos to identify the breeds in our coop.
  • Let a neighbor help develop a baby chick order. One of our neighbors regularly tends our flock when we’re away. We let her choose a couple of breeds when we order chicks from Hoover’s. These are “her” birds even though they live in our coop. It gives her a personal connection with our flock.
  • Help neighbors see that chickens are outstanding recyclers of kitchen scraps. They might even bring their own leftover goodies over to feed the hens


Sadly, today many people don’t even know their neighbors. A chicken flock can attract folks to the yard for a social gathering. The flock can be the glue that brings people together to create friendship and understanding.



Welcoming coop visitors has benefits but there’s a caution. A human visitor could carry a disease to the flock, perhaps from a microbe hidden in dirt on a shoe. Observe biosecurity as explained in Hoover’s Catalog. Also keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in the coop and encourage all visitors, especially kids, to wash up and sanitize after leaving the coop and before eating lunch.