Friday, March 25, 2011

Urban Chickens

Barred Plymouth Rock in my lap.
As many people long for the taste of home grown food they know the origin of, urban chickens are growing in popularity. Many cities allow backyard chickens but not a rooster. If you're interested in keeping chickens, check with local ordinances to see if they're allowed. Here are some interesting facts about keeping chickens:

  • You don't need a rooster to get eggs. Hens lay without the help of a man in the flock, but if you can keep one, you may get more eggs than not.
  • Chickens need protection from city predators such as dogs, cats, and even hawks. Ours live in a huge, completely enclosed run. The biggest danger to them is the cats that roam our streets.
  • Martha, Queen of the flock.
  • Chickens are voracious eaters. We feed our chickens scratch mix, egg laying mix, and a LOT of vegetable scraps from the restaurant (lettuce, carrot, zucchini, celery ends, cucumber and carrot peels.) They also like to eat any bugs they can get their beaks on. 
  • Eggs can come in many colors depending on the breed of the chicken. We have three Ameraucanas which will lay blue and green shelled eggs, two Barred Plymouth Rocks and a Black Cochin which will lay brown shelled eggs, and two Leghorns which will lay the traditional large white shelled eggs.
  • Feasting on restaurant scraps.
  • You can order chickens online if you don't have a local supplier. Although I recommend buying chickens in person so you can see what you're getting, you can order a variety of chickens and other poultry online to be delivered right to your door.
  • Chickens can be very personable. As with any animal, the more time you spend with them, the friendlier they will be. Our two Barred hens came to use when they were about three months old and still pretty small. They like to sit on our shoulders or heads and don't mind at all if we want to pet their soft feathers. The others came to us a bit older and as a result are all much more skittish.

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