Thursday, July 29, 2010

My reasons for the urban chickens

Well, I've told you lots about the chickens, but very little about why we decided to raise them...and that's important.

First, the MYTH:

I'm raising laying hens to save money.

This is ridiculous. I'll never save money on this project, and I've known it all along. For example, I spent $575 on their house, which is cuter than my own house. I'm buying them special organic laying feed that costs twice as much as what most chickens get. Obviously, I'll never save money this way :)

The REAL reasons:
1) I'm appalled at how factory farms treat their chickens. It's so bad that Californians had to pass a Proposition in support of farmed animals. Now, hens will have a little bit more room in their cages, at least in CA. I don't want to go into the details here, because it just bums me out. (Suffice it to say, that their lives are still very sad and not appropriate for one of God's creatures. I'm not providing links here because you can just google it.)

2) They are really pretty and funny and make great pets.

3) They create eggs.

4) They create high quality organic fertilizer for my vegetable garden.

The hens are easy to take care of; requiring very little time. But I will say this: They poop. A lot. And not in a box. So, if you are one of those people who is really bothered by poop, then you are most likely not reading this blog. But if you are, beware.

In reality, the poop really isn't that big of a deal for me. It only smells for a few minutes. Once it dries, in an hour or so, it doesn't smell. At my house, the poop is a good thing. It will make the flowers and vegetables grow.

Some thoughts for potential chicken owners:
Stefaneer, at Silician Sisters Grow Some Food, recently posted about an irresponsible chicken owner, who wants someone else to take care of her hens (but do not kill them) once they stop laying eggs. This is terrible. Chicken owners need to be responsible. If you buy an animal, you are committed to it.

If you are considering buying some chickens, I encourage you to:
1) Stop, put down the Organic Gardening magazine (or whatever has cute chicken pictures in it).

Yes, I know those unusual breeds of chickens are really pretty. I want one of each of them, too!

2) Read a book or attend a chicken workshop. Or thoroughly scour the interwebs ( is a good site).
3) I suggest a waiting period before purchasing them. Yes, I'm serious. You really don't want to buy chickens on an "impulse". I waited at least 3 years, but that's unusually long :)
4) Visit some chickens. And ask questions of their owners.
5) Then if you still really want chickens, go for it! They are great.


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Those are all great reasons Jackie. Our chickens are still paying off the first coop, and we're about to build our third! Even our 'retired' hens are still useful for their high nitrogen contribution to the compost, and for working over the soils eating weeds and bugs. I agree though, put down the cute magazines about chickens, and do some homework before embarking on poultry-keeping. Chickens can also have a dark side (as our poor rooster has now discovered). It's just good to be aware of all aspects of chicken keeping before committing to raising them. Your girls are so adorable :)

Missy said...

Jackie, I can't agree more. Our chickens will never pay their way and we don't expect them to but they have become part of the family. They give us much more than eggs and fertiliser. I believe in "chook therapy". If I need a lift or just a laugh, I pull up a chair and watch them forage in the garden.

Stefaneener said...

Yes, chickens don't pay for themselves, at least mine defray their food costs because my friends buy eggs from us rather than a store. There are so many other good reasons to keep them, though.

meemsnyc said...

Thanks for this thoughtful post. My husband and I have been thinking about getting chickens too. It is a real commitment. His parents own an organic farm and they have about 30 chickens. We haven't decided if we will get any yet, but it's a decision that we will research before actually doing it.