Raising Chickens in Arizona

Backyard chickens are a wonderful benefit to any household. Not only are they fun pets, they provide you with delicious, fresh eggs! If you live in Arizona and are thinking about getting chickens here are some tips:

Know the Rules
Every city has their own local ordinances so please be sure it is legal for you to keep chickens on your property. We have heard of poultry owners who were forced to give up their flock because they were not aware it was illegal in their city. This azcentral article has a general listing of laws in the Phoenix-metro area, but it is wise to double check the ordinance by contacting your city government. Also keep in mind that there are often specific rules for roosters as well. Even if you don’t plan on having a rooster, make sure you know the rules because sometimes what looks like a hen can later turn out to be a rooster.

Which Breed is Best?
There are numerous breeds to pick from so one must consider a few basic factors when selecting a breed. First, do you plan to raise the chickens for meat, eggs, or both? The Cornish Cross is considered the standard meat bird in the poultry industry. Red Rangers make good broilers too. Some of the top egg layers include Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds (RIR), and Ameraucanas. Chickens that are good for both meat and eggs are referred to as “dual purpose” and include breeds such as the Orpington, Wyandotte, Plymouth Rock, Delaware, and Australorp. Each breed is prone to certain temperaments and known to lay different colored eggs.
In a harsh climate like Arizona, another critical aspect to consider is heat tolerance. Smaller chickens, such as banties, and those with light colored plumage tend to do better in hot climates. In general, heavier breeds do not fare as well. Examples of heat tolerant breeds include: Andalusian, Naked Neck, Plymouth Rock, and Ameraucana.
For our original flock, we selected Orpingtons and Wyandottes due to their gentle temperament, good egg production, and size. Because they are large birds, they are susceptible to hot temperatures, but they are able to tolerate the summer with some help (read more here). Over the years, we’ve tried a variety of breeds and our personal favorite is the Australorp.

Selecting a Brooder and Coop
For the first 6 weeks, baby chicks need to live in a controlled environment called a brooder. You can purchase one from several online retailers or build your own. We built ours using scrap plywood and chicken wire. The size you need depends on the number of chicks you have and how long you plan on keeping them in the brooder. Young chicks need at least 1 sq-ft per bird. Beyond 6 weeks of age, they should have at least 2 sq-ft per bird. Make sure you also have a reliable heat source (always remember fire safety!), check their thermometer frequently, and adjust the temperature according to their age.
Once your chicks are all grown up, they will be ready to move into the coop where they will learn to roost each night. Again, the size of the housing area depends on the number of chickens you have. The bigger the better, but at a minimum, each bird will need 4 sq-ft inside the coop and 10 sq-ft in an attached outdoors run space. You will also need 1 nest box for every 3-4 hens. Coops can also be purchased through online retailers, local feed stores, or you can build your own. We built ours from recycled materials and an old children’s playhouse.

Where Can I Purchase Chicks?
Many local feed stores will often have chicks available in the spring for purchase (we are big fans of Shoppers Supply). They will usually only carry a few select breeds so if you cannot find what you are looking for, you can also purchase your chicks online. Online hatcheries will have more breeds to pick from and you can specify which sex you want. They ship live in the mail and typically arrive in 1-2 days. In the past, we have purchased chicks from Ideal Poultry and Cackle Hatchery. You can also buy locally through ads such as Craigslist, but as always, caveat emptor when purchasing animals from strangers. Consider vaccinating your flock to protect them from serious illnesses that can cause high mortality rates. Many breeders provide vaccination as an inexpensive service or you can opt to do it yourself. And of course, once you have acquired your initial flock, you can perpetuate it in your backyard by breeding them yourself!

For detailed information on raising chickens, we recommend reading the following books (our favorites are by Damerow):

You can also ask questions and learn a lot from these online forums:

And of course, you’re more than welcome to ask us questions here! :)

  • Vicki Silvius

    Actually there are around 200 breeds of chickens-Greenfire Farms is dedicated to breeding rare & almost extinct breeds

  • Martin Dimitrov

    Can I purchase eggs from you? (i would raise my own if I did not live in an apartment).

  • http://winwinfarm.com/ Win-Win Farm

    Hello! We currently have a waiting list, and if you’d like to be added to it, please send us an email through our contact page here:
    When we have some eggs available, we’ll send you a message. Thanks!

  • Sheena Bair Broek

    what kind of chicken does the best in the Arizona heat? I’m looking for a good egg laying hen that will hold up in the summers & keep my bunny company.

  • http://winwinfarm.com/ Win-Win Farm

    Thanks for the good question! Here are a few standard size breeds that can handle the AZ heat well:
    1. Australorp
    2. Ameraucana
    3. White Leghorn
    4. Welsummer
    5. Barred Rock
    6. Blue Andalusian

    Please read our article about keeping your chickens cool:

  • A. Mason

    Hi! Would Buff Orpingtons do alright in AZ, as well? Do you sell Buff Orpington or Barred Rock chicks?

  • http://winwinfarm.com/ Win-Win Farm

    Hello! I’m sorry, but we do not sell chicks. We have 4 Buff Orps at the moment, and they do fairly well here. They’re a very cold hardy English breed so they prefer winter and do tend to suffer through summer. Barred rocks do ok as well. We highly recommend Australorps. It has been our experience that they withstand Arizona temperatures the best. Plus, they’re sweethearts! 😉

  • A. Mason

    Thanks for the reply! We wanted a a breed that would be very friendly and maybe let children pet, handle and hold them, not pick at them too much but would be good egg-layers, as well. We don’t necessarily want/need chicks, but I didn’t know I could get them any other way. :) How old are the Buff Orps, Barred Rocks and Australorps you have there? I haven’t looked much into Australorps yet. We’re moving soon and we’re not sure where to yet but we’d like something that would move very well with us, too, and be cold-hardy (if it needed to be). We’d like to be able to treat them like pets and members of the family and they will be well cared for no matter where we go.

  • http://winwinfarm.com/ Win-Win Farm

    It sounds like you need a dog… Just kidding! 😉 In general, chickens aren’t overly fond of being held and cuddled. They can be trained to tolerate it if they’re raised from a young age and have frequent human interaction. If you truly want a breed that is especially docile, I would recommend the Orpington. The Australorps are a bit shy and skittish, but they’re fantastic layers. Buff Orps lay a decent number of eggs.

  • A. Mason

    Haha! We have dogs but they aren’t as good with the egg thing. 😛 I think that’s why I thought I had to have them from a very young age (to get them used to being handled).

  • BridgetE

    * I run a misting system. I live an hr outta Phoenix and it’s always hotter out here than in town. My hens and roo love it.

  • http://winwinfarm.com/ Win-Win Farm

    It really does make a difference doesn’t it? It’s easy to see how much they love it! :)

  • birdbird36@gmail.com

    Do you know of any Australorp breeders in az?

  • http://winwinfarm.com/ Win-Win Farm

    Hello! I don’t know of any here in Arizona, though we intend to breed them once our roo matures. To my knowledge there aren’t any hatcheries in Arizona, and the closest is Privett in New Mexico.

  • Dawn

    I live in Phoenix and am looking to get a small flock. Is it getting too hot to raise chicks? Also, I am looking for ameracana and barred rock chicks. Do you know of a reputable place in Phoenix to go? I went to a couple feed stores in Phoenix a few months afo and was hugely dissapointed. One in Mesa had dead chicks and when I pointed them out to the store owner he said “those ones are free” and kept them in with the others. The other one I went to in north Phoenix had dyed their chicks for easter… I gave up searching after those experiences. :-( But I would like to raise some girls and get fresh eggs.

  • http://winwinfarm.com/ Win-Win Farm

    Hello, Dawn! Sorry to hear about the disappointment at the feed stores, but unfortunately, your experience is a common one. Stores often do not provide proper care for small chicks, and it drives us crazy. They’re living animals and deserve better! Here are some places we like: Ray’s Feed Store in Phoenix, Higley Feed in Gilbert, Shoppers Supply in Chandler, and Tempe Feed & Tack in Tempe. Good luck!

  • E Anderson

    what about winter time here in phoenix area. is there anything special you have to do for them. is there a certain temp that you have to put a heater in the coop?

  • http://winwinfarm.com/ Win-Win Farm

    Nope! In the Phoenix area it doesn’t get cold enough in the evenings to need a heater. Chickens are well equipped to handle cold weather. When a hard freeze is expected on especially cold nights, close up the coop so it’s as draft-free as possible (though you still want some ventilation). This will help conserve heat and prevent the wind from chilling their bodies. You can also add some Vaseline on their legs, feet, and combs to protect against frostbite.

  • E Anderson

    Awesome, thank you for the great info.