Raising Chickens In Your Backyard For Unlimited Organic Eggs is Way Easier Than You Thought
I have always lived in the city. I would even go as far as to call myself a city girl. I love the hustle and bustle, the variations in food and culture and the people who I meet — but I have always felt a huge connection to nature as well. There is nothing quite like taking some solitary time and getting out of the constant movement of city life to the slow and steady movement and sounds of the wilderness.
Luckily for me, there are places just 30 minutes away from where I live that seem like a world away because of the contrast to the city. It has given me the opportunity to experience and understand the beauty and how necessary it is that we value and cherish nature at its most fundamental.
My love for the world outside of my city has created a space for growth as an individual and a growing knowledge of how I can be a vessel of change within my community towards a better, cleaner tomorrow.
There is a common misconception that there is not much that we can do to live a greener, more sustainable life in a concrete jungle. City living can create a barrier between ourselves and nature making it seem much more difficult than it is to lighten your carbon footprint on the world around us.
How to Raise Chickens for Organic Eggs
About 5 years ago I decided that giving up meat was a big way to curb my carbon footprint on the world and in my opinion, was a healthier way of life for me. I am now an Ovo-vegetarian which means I don’t eat meat or dairy but I do eat eggs. Organic, grass fed eggs range anywhere from $4-5 a dozen which can add up quickly on a budget and our diet consists of many of them. When I heard about the possibility of raising laying hens in the backyard my interest peaked immediately.
After doing some research on the who, what, when, where, and why I made the leap into a city dweller who raises backyard laying hens. I did some research on the types of chicks available near me, the types of feed needed, and talked my brother into building me a small chicken coop to keep them safe from predators — learning what works and what doesn’t along the way. Here are some pros and cons of keeping chickens in city limits.
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Having the chickens has been quite the educational adventure for myself and my daughter. She loves going out in the morning and checking on the chickens and bringing fresh eggs in from outside. It has created an environment of shared responsibility and education about where food comes from. This was a big deal to me because we are so far removed from the reality of the work and facts about where our food comes from in the city. It was a great learning tool for our home.
Money talks and when people stop buying factory poultry there will be an effect in the overall production of that cash crop. Chicken and factory produced eggs harm wildlife, habitat, and human health through the large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium produced. Through raising your own laying hens, you can reduce the largely inhumane practices and help reduce your personal carbon footprint.
Like I mentioned before, my family is Ovo-vegetarian and we go through eggs like nobody’s business. Being able to go out back and pluck breakfast right from our own backyard has been such a great experience and helpful with finances.
Believe it or not, chickens like any other pets all have their very own personalities and are really funny. There is most definitely a pecking order, they know where their food comes from, they greet you when you come home just as a dog would and they love to sit on our laps and be loved like any other pet. It just goes to show that treating animals in a humane, loving manner creates happy, loving animals.
The initial cost and building/buying of the chicken coop is the hardest part. After that, the only real upkeep is cleaning out the chicken coop once a week and feeding them.
Even when I would buy eggs that said “free range” or “grass fed” I still felt as though there was a chance that the “free range” simply meant that the chickens just weren’t held in small cages. Many “free range” chickens are still treated inhumanely and cramped in a small space with hundreds of other chickens and disease.
Free Pest Control
Chickens love to eat those pesky little bugs that tear apart your garden and lawn like slugs as well as Lyme disease carrying buggers like ticks, making your backyard safer for your other animals and children as well.
Depending on how many chickens you have and how many eggs you family goes through there is a very real possibility that you can make a profit from excess eggs by selling them to neighbors or your local farmer’s market if you have one.
Natural Fertilizer- Chicken droppings are a great fertilizer. If you keep a garden this will be sure to ante up the health and development of your garden. It’s a simple process and it’s FREE.
Cleaning The Coop
Although you may be using the chicken manure for fertilizer and it isn’t an everyday task, cleaning out the chicken coop has never been my favorite. It is necessary for happy healthy chickens that lay tasty eggs every day, though.
If you do not take proper care of your new pets there is a chance that through the bacteria from chicken feces can carry salmonella which can make you very sick. This can cause diarrhea, fever, stomach pain, nausea, and headaches.
Getting A Coop
Luckily for me, I have a brother who is extremely handy. For a lot of people, the chicken coop can be a bit of a hassle both to make and to order. This is the biggest most costly purchase when deciding to raise chickens.
Living in the city may mean that you don’t have to deal with the typical predator issues for your new chickens but city predators are very real and very sneaky. Raccoons and, believe it or not, stray dogs have been an issue for us in the past. A very secure coop or fencing is a great way to deter these predators.
Laying hens take about 6 months to start laying and only lay for about 3-5 years. Once they are done laying they can live upwards of 20 years, so deciding whether to keep your new pets or if you want to slaughter them can be a tough decision after creating a relationship with these silly creatures.
A lot of neighborhoods have sound ordinances and annoying your neighbors with a rooster that is quite loud may not be the best choice. Before you make the leap into raising chickens, check the sound ordinances in your neighborhood. It may also be smartest to have the sex of the chicks checked before you purchase as well so that you don’t end up with any roosters.
If you travel often for work or play, having laying hens may not be for you. Unless you have someone that can look after your coop while you are away, it will create an unhealthy environment for both you and the birds. They need to be fed regularly and the coop cleaned at least once a week to keep salmonella at bay and the chickens happy and producing eggs.
For my family, the pros have always outweighed the cons. Being able to get fresh eggs from our backyard in the middle of the city is such a treat. Never having to shop for eggs anymore and knowing that they are sourced humanely in a space that encourages my child to be aware of not only where food comes from but the impact what she puts in her body has on the environment is so very important. Sometimes we even make a little extra money selling our eggs in the local farmers market!
My last bit of advice would be to check regulations on the number of birds allowed in your area. It varies sometimes even county to county. Once that is done, good luck to you on your personal journey to a greener society and health conscious choices.
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