Chickens are a great first farm animal to invest in. They have a variety of uses that go beyond simple egg laying. Beyond their value, they are also easy to care for, requiring little space and less food and maintenance than other livestock.
Owning chickens is a great first step to self-sufficiency. Urban chicken farms have proven that with a small deck, patio, or backyard you can cultivate both meat and egg laying hens. Hens not only provide eggs and meat but also eat bugs and worms that can destroy a back yard. And, depending on the breed, you can also use them to keep your backyard free of ticks.
Now everyone has their own favorite breed of chicken for the backyard. Some will tell you that the Rhode Island Red and Leghorns are your best bet as layers. This is absolutely true. They are great layers. However, neither are easy handlers. We like to recommend the Plymoth Barred Rocks as laying hens, and the Cochins for meat and eggs. Typically you can purchase chickens at your local farm store, or (and this is rather exciting) get your chicks through the mail. Places like www.mypetchicken.com offer mail order chicks.
To get started in chickens you can make or buy a coop, again for first time owners, we recommend the iKayaa 62″ Wooden Chicken coop. They can be purchased online for about $100 if you search and provide both a pen and the house.