Have you ever seen the documentary, "The Natural History of the Chicken?" If not, you have got to see it. Here are some links to youtube segments. You have to watch it in a few pieces, but it is well worth it. I laughed and laughed and also decided I no longer wanted to contribute the the inhumane treatment of chickens.
So piece by piece, we are trying to convert to our own egg chickens at least. This spring we bought our own "flock" of chickens. We purchased 2 Barred Rocks, 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Rhode Island Reds, and 2 Ameraucanas. Our local IFA carries day old chicks and the employees there were a wealth of information for a newbie chicken owner. Since they must be kept very warm, we put them in Andrews old snake tank and kept them in the living room for a few days while we waited for the outdoor temperatures to rise. It was like having the "Chicken Channel" for Sienna and Bugsy.
Then, with my trusty helper, Andrew, I built a chicken ark (coop) with these awesome plans from Catawba Coops. We built it out of ceder fencing. All the doors and sides come off which makes it a snap to clean. Also, it is small and lightweight and can be moved from place to place to give the chickens plenty of new ground. Now, they have free reign of our backyard and are only locked up in the coop at night. We gave 2 of our chickens away because our coop is only built to accommodate 6, and our friends had all their chickens murdered by a mink. We are getting about 3 eggs a day, which seems to be just about right. As their production increases, we will hopefully be able to supply our parents with eggs too.