City ChickensBrian Neville
As people become more interested in self-reliance and preservation, the urban farming movement continues to gain momentum. We’ve written about urban gardening and urban bee keeping as great ways to sustain your family and even generate some trade. Now that the weather is nice and you’ve got your tomatoes in and your hives out – it’s time to expand your enterprise. It’s time for chickens.
Allow us to convince you that chickens are a worthwhile addition to your sustainability plan – here are the benefits of your very own coop:
- Fresh eggs (sustainable and trade-able)
- Healthy, chemical-free lawn
- Chickens eat leftovers
- Chicken poo is great in compost piles and gardens
- Chickens eat lawn clippings and weeds
Are they right for you?
But, before you start picking up chicks (go ahead – laugh) determine if chickens are right for you:
- Do you have 10 minutes a day for chicken chores?
- Can you provide an adequate coop?
- Does your neighborhood or town allow chickens?
- Do you have extra funds to dedicate to their care?
What you’ll need:
- Chicken chow (chickens aren’t picky eaters, but they do need the right mix of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fat.)
- Clean water
- Calcium additive for food
- Grit (to help them digest)
- 4 square feet of yard per chicken
If you’re handy, you can build a coop or buy one in a kit – the Push-it Coop is only 5’ wide and looks like a tiny Amish barn crossed with a wheelbarrow. Coops are important – predators are very sneaky and determined when it comes to chickens. Here are some coop requirements via My Pet Chicken:
- Predator-proof from above, below and all sides
- Secure from rodents
- Breezy enough to prevent respiratory diseases, but drafty
- Easy to clean
- Provide “roosting poles” for sleeping
- Provide boxes for egg laying
- Accommodate food and water hardware
You’ll want to read more about the nuances of chicken keeping by reading or talking to other chicken keepers. If you’d like to read a first hand account of a backyard chicken keeper, this is a great article written by a soil scientist. And, Mad City Chickens – the movie – has people talking about backyard chickens. Of course, Urban Homestead keeps chickens and has some good resources.
Of course, you can Like these folks and us on Facebook to keep learning about backyard self-sufficiency.