Edible Gardens: Not Your Old MacDonald

With proper care, some barnyard residents can transition to city dwellers
Belgian chicken

Belgian d’Uccle

This bantam is available in a beautifully speckled pattern known as “mille fleur,” hence its nickname, the Millie. The hen is docile and can be unusually tame.

Campbell Duck

Khaki Campbell

Developed in England by Adele Campbell, it’s equally at home on land and doesn’t require a pond to be happy. A prolific layer, it’s also quiet and sweet.



An especially good-natured, intelligent rabbit with short, velvety fur, the Mini Rex weighs about 4 pounds, while the Standard Rex can get as large as 11.


Nigerian Dwarf

Coveted as a superior dairy producer for its high-butterfat milk, this animal also makes a great pet because of its gentle, affectionate personality.

Holland Lop

Holland Lop

This droopy-eared charmer has a kind temperament—it won’t bite the kids—and compact size (three to four pounds), making it the most popular of bunny breeds.



Prized for its rarity and the blue coloring of its eggs, the South American native settles well in an urban yard but is not as easily tamed as other species.

bantam chicken

Cochin Bantam

Not a high-volume layer, it makes up for low productivity with its friendliness. The hen takes to human handling and will mother other members of the flock.

chinese painted quail

Chinese Painted

Also called the Button quail, it comes in several color mutations and lays the spotted eggs prized in Asian cuisine. While easy to care for, it may live only two years.

red wiggler

Red Wiggler

The species known as Eisenia fetida is a smart addition to the compost pile: It can consume its weight in organic matter every day and is a prolific procreator.


To purchase the chickens featured here, contact reputable hatcheries such as the Connecticut-based mypetchicken.com, which accepts small orders. For rabbits, start with rabbitrescue.com. Quails are carried periodically at independent pet stores such as Birds Plus (818-901-1187), in Van Nuys, and Andersen’s Pet Shop, in Montrose. The ducks may be ordered through the family-owned cacklehatchery.com, but the minimum order is 15 birds. The Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association is an excellent source for breeders. Red worms are sold at Sunset Boulevard Nursery, in Silver Lake. 

Images from top: mypetchicken.com; Getty Images;, Shutterstock;  No Credit; Shutterstock; National Geographic; No Creidt; Don Eisenbeisz; Rhoda Peacher.