Wednesday, August 5, 2009

NYT article on backyard hens

Chicken coop for three hens !Just one of many creative and attractive coops that backyard hen keepers like to make. Image by lord marmalade via Flickr

The article makes the argument that eggs are cheaper in the store than keeping hens. So what?

A local LOVESalem correspondent went on the Portland Tour de Coops this year. She not only had a wonderful time introducing her five-year-old chaperone to chickens (he was smitten), she also saw how important the hens were to making the tour locations more sustainable -- and better prepared for emergencies.

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Walker said...

A local henkeeper writes to correct the impression that home-reared eggs from backyard hens were automatically more expensive:

"I liked what you said about the price of eggs but just FYI, people who don't save money raising chickens don't save money because they rely 100% on commercial poultry feed. Typically, urban hen/pet keepers feed them grass clippings, kitchen scraps, bugs, etc., which cuts down dramatically on the cost. My 4 hens ate leftover vegetables, fruits, pasta, rice, beans, weeds, grass, bugs/slugs and therefore needed very little feed. Including the cost of straw bedding and feed, I was getting FRESH eggs for just .90 per dozen last summer. The only other cost is the initial investment of the coop."

Walker said...

A note from Australia!:

I have read your chicken info request from back in February…how did you go with your council? I live in Sydney, Australia. Our local councils allow chickens here, but not roosters because they are too noisy. We have three chickens ourselves. You can check out a website which is where we got our chooks. It has lots of information about keeping chooks in urban locations. Dave the Chook man is completely run off his feet, he is going gangbusters and cant keep up with the demand.

Something which may appeal to your council is the ability for chickens to reduce organic waste from council waste flow. Since getting chickens, my organic waste is almost zero (the only thing I wont feed them is chicken meat leftovers, I am worried about “mad chicken disease”!!!). They eat anything, and in fact I get greens from the local greengrocers bins, also reducing their waste.

I am really convinced of the usefulness of keeping chooks in teaching my urban children to care for animals, and to connect them with where their food comes from.

You could make an argument about food security.

I hope that helps!


Walker said...

Another note from Sydney, Australia, in response to a reply that it looked like we would be able to keep at least three hens before too long:

Three is great! We have three, and we get three eggs each day. You won’t ever want a store bought egg again after you have had a fresh one still warm in your hand! Good luck!