Friday, March 21, 2008

The Urban Chicken

I know it's been awhile, but the mini-farm, work and a kitchen remodel have kept me busy. I found a very cute site called My Pet Chicken which is aimed at the "Urban Chikeneer" so to speak. They sell chickens in groups as small as three as opposed to the normal required 25. Also, they have a variety of breeds and they have "urban" environments to make having two chickens super easy for non-farm raised people. I particularly get a kick out of the Eglu which comes complete with chickens (and pictured above), check it out! They have lots of interesting accessories. And, I think I've identified Sarah as a Dominique breed and Samantha as a Barred Rock; I am 90% sure at this point.


Roe said...

so if I buy a place with an acre where poultry isn't allowed I imagine it would still be ok as long as I kept the chickens confined and didn't have a rooster, but can this really be done without keeping the birds too restricted? I've never had chickens before but the idea of fresh eggs would be pretty neat.

Roe said...

forgot to subscribe to the thread...

Esmae said...

From my research, some breeds of chickens do very well confined and some of them prefer free range very strongly. There are ways to research the breeds online, including a tool at My Pet Chicken, to help you search by how rare the bird is, how prolific in egg laying, how cold weather hardy, whether they like to raise babies or not, and what color eggs they lay. (I want to try some that lay green eggs, that would be cool!)

I have a 12' x 4' coop that came from a family in NW Boise who lived on a small, average size lot with no acreage at all in a completely developed residential neighborhood. For two years they had the chickens and there was no issue; they kept 5 in that coop. Personally I think 2 is a lot more spacious for them but 5 did work ok for the chickens.

You can let the chickens out when you will be around to watch them, or make a "chicken tractor" that is a portable cage to protect them from predators (I am in the process of getting one).

Zoning wise, in City limits and without a grandfather right poultry is likely not allowed...but unless your neighbors complain you're likely fine. I know there are places around me that have them. I have a grandfather right for horses but not chickens, but I doubt anyone will even know as the chickens are small and quiet. Just don't have a rooster - then you will get complaints!

The My Pet Chicken site sexes the chicks; most places don't and you take your chances.

Roe said...

That is a neat site, I'm definitely going to get some chickens if I end up on land.

How long do the eggs keep for, and is there any taste differences? I remember having fresh eggs as a kid but it was so long ago that I don't remember.

BTW, I watched a video on conditions for chickens in factory farming and I totally agree with you that horrible suffering goes on as a result of their housing. That NEEDS to change. I still don't qualify their killing as suffering but their housing definitely is. So having my own chickens will assuage some of my guilt about that issue.

Esmae said...

I'm glad to hear you watched a video about chicken living conditions and agree on the suffering. It is appalling how they are kept.

Without having chickens yourself, a few ideas: You can buy fresh eggs locally at Farmer's Markets or off Craigslist (usually in Farm & Garden). One lady even had an array of colored ones listed for Easter - neat idea to sell naturally green, blue, brown and pink eggs instead of using dye. Short of that you can buy organic, free range, cage free eggs at the store - not nearly as good an option but far better than supporting factory egg farming. Locally you can get duck eggs also.

We do think the eggs are better fresh. They seem healthier - very thick shells, and very good taste. I have always hated eggs and these I actually enjoy eating.

I read that if you do not wash them, store them small side down and refrigerate them they last several weeks - I have had eggs last 6 weeks plus before. You wash before using but apparently the chickens lay them with an anti-microbial protective layer on them so you leave that on for storage.

If you have enough space in your backyard for a small run and a safe night time enclosure you can have chickens that don't free range, and some breeds are fine with that. I imagine ducks are harder to keep since they have to have a pond/kiddie pool to play in...or I'd be tempted to add some.