The growing questions of where our food comes from and how it is prepared are ignored by some and acknowledged by others. Whether it’s pesticides in crops such as corn and soybean or growth hormones in cows, pigs or chickens, we should be aware that there is a certain level of risk purchasing (and consuming) food of unknown origin.
Obviously not everyone can become a farmer, but just about anyone can do one thing to lower the risk of consuming potentially hazardous food: keep your own chickens.
1 – Check with the Government
City ordinances control the zoning of residential areas. Some ordinances are strict about backyard chicken coops while others are somewhat relaxed. Most smart city governments realize that citizen involvement in food production is beneficial to the local community and environment.
Chickens not only provide sustainable food sources, but they also act as a natural pest control because of the bugs they eat on a regular basis. Before you find your chicks and build a coop, though, make sure that you are proceeding in a lawful manner.
2 – Check with the Neighbors
Even if the state ordinances permit backyard chicken keeping, some homeowners and neighborhood associations assign certain living conditions and restrictions. Before going any further, make sure that a chicken coop and the chickens themselves are within the guidelines set by your local community organizations. After that, check with your neighbors personally.
While the chickens you want to keep may be well within your legal rights, it is common courtesy to make sure your neighbors are comfortable with the idea before you build a coop and bring a new chicken home. Consider offering to share your egg harvests or let your chickens rid your neighbors’ lawns of pesky insects to sweeten the deal.
3 – Check with your Family
While maintenance of chickens is relatively low, the investment to get a coop of your own started may be considerable. Chickens should have their own coop or shed to stay in, which can be purchased whole or built from scratch. Make sure your family or living companions are comfortable with the space required for the coop as well as the ongoing maintenance that will be required.
- Coops should have about eight square feet for one to three birds, and more space for additional birds.
- Perches should be installed for the chickens to sleep on.
- Nesting boxes filled with wood shavings provide the hens a place to lay eggs.
- A secure, enclosed coop will keep the chickens free from predators like dogs, foxes or wolves.
Your coop should be easily accessible since the chickens need to be fed and watered daily, the coop needs to be cleaned weekly and the bedding should be replaced regularly. That may sound like a burden, but keep in mind that the
Having your own source of fresh eggs is possible, but awareness of the sacrifices, including time and money, is key. Once your expectations have been set appropriately, though, the benefits of keeping your own chickens will quickly manifest.
About the author: Jeff Jacobsen is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in CropFax.com with an enthusiasm for organic food.
Photo credit: Lisa Parker