City dwelling chickens are all the rage! As more and more cities are adopting chicken-friendly zoning laws, more and more city folks are opting to raise chickens of their own. There are plenty of reasons to consider raising chickens in urban locations. Here are some of them:
- Chickens are low-maintenance pets. You don’t have to take them out for daily walks and buy them toys and teach them tricks. They’re content with food, water, and adequate shelter (approximately 4 square feet per chicken) to avoid cramped conditions.
- Chickens are cheap pets (no pun intended). The only real major expense in having chickens is building (or buying) a chicken coop. Otherwise, their food (which is less than $15 for 50 lbs) and basic care is minimal. Even chicks are inexpensive-you can buy them for between $2-5 each.
- You’ll get lots of fresh eggs. You can generally expect an egg a day from most chickens (although this number varies depending on the breed, health and other conditions of your chicken). These eggs are healthier for you and look and taste better too. What other pet will pay for their room and board like this?
- Chickens give you free fertilizer. If you own chickens of your own, there will never be a reason to buy chicken manure again! You’ll have a fresh supply. Add the manure to your compost bin or use a deep litter method in your hen house and let the chickens compost it for you.
- You’ll be raising natural bug killers. They love bugs and worms and other crawly things and are more than happy to eat them out of the yard for you.
- Chickens are more entertaining than going to the comedy club. Chicken watching is a wonderful, free pastime. I’m convinced that hanging out with chickens reduces stress. (At least it’s worked with my family-even calming the most hyperactive children!) Since laughter is good medicine and being happy helps you live longer, you could even argue that having chickens will help you grow old…but not before you’re time!
- Chickens are generally gentle, sweet animals-especially if they get plenty of handling when they’re small. Our chickens come when called and will sit quietly with children for over an hour at a time. A friend told me of their son who would bike around the neighborhood with his pet chicken riding on the handlebars.
- Chickens don’t get too big. They don’t take up a huge amount of space and they don’t consume a huge amount of food. They’re a perfect fit for most urban backyards (and way more economical than many other pets).
- You don’t have to be an expert to have chickens. With a little basic information, you can learn as you go. It’s easy to get started and easy to keep going.
- Content chickens don’t make a ton of noise. Yes, they like to talk to each other. And yes, they like to squawk to congratulate each other when they lay an egg. But generally they shouldn’t make so much noise that they annoy you or the neighbors (unless you happen to have a rooster in the bunch-then beware!)
Before you invest in a chicken raising adventure in the city, check your local ordinances (and HOA’s) to make sure they’re legal where you live. Most cities have rules as to the number of chickens you can have (and most won’t allow roosters). There also might be rules as to where the chicken coop needs to be located (the number of feet away from the neighbors or from the front property line, etc.) Finding out the details before you get started will save time in the long run.
If you find out that you live in an area where chickens are allowed, why not get a few and try out urban chicken farming? The benefits of raising chickens far outweigh the cost and hassle of having them. And who knows? They might even help you live longer!
Kerrie Hubbard lives in Portland, Oregon with 10 chickens, 1 cat and several small raised bed gardens. Her website, City Girl Chickens ( http://www.citygirlchickens.com ) is an urban guide to raising chickens in your backyard or other small spaces.
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