Free Range Chickens looking for inner city pad
I live in the country side in the Wairarapa, New Zealand and I am lucky enough to be surrounded by neighbors that have friendly clucking sounds coming from their backyards. A city girl at heart I decided to do some investigations into keeping chickens not only for myself but also looking at the growing trend of inner city chicken living.
This is what I found out… Many large cities now allow poultry within the city limits with a few guidelines. Roosters are the most common no-no as they can crow around the clock disturbing neighbors – eek. Some cities restrict the number of chickens a household can own. Some Cities only allow you to keep chickens if your use is for their eggs, not meat. Cleanliness is of real importance to keep away pests such as rodents and flies.
Research online can bring up relevant to your area/country, chicken keeping rules. Try your local city council. If you are worried about rocking the boat with neighbors, try keeping a clean coop and offering free eggs. Also check out how far your coop needs to be from the neighboring boundary.
Prepping your coop
Cats and dogs are among the list of predators that will have your chickens on their lunch menu. Make sure you have a safe, dry coop for your chickens to retreat too.
No fancy housing is required however they do need a warm dry spot in the cold winter months, (a light bulb is recommended for added warmth) and a place to lay or roost. Straw or pine needles are used for their bedding and you will need to provide clean drinking water.
Start a compost of the used bedding and chicken manure – your garden will love you for it!
Allow for 2-4 square feet per chicken –recommended for your chicken run – this is separate to their sleeping quarters and this is where they can scratch, peck and roll in the dust.Yeeha!
You may be able to let your chicken’s free range in your garden for part of the day. Make sure you have a secure fence so they don’t get into your vegetables or flower beds.
What breed to get?
This will depend on what climate you live in, what is available and what purpose you require them for.
- Chickens do not lay eggs until they reach maturity around 6 months
- Chicken lay eggs without the help of a Rooster (good on ya girls!) Roosters are only required if you want some cute fluffy chicks
- Chickens stop producing eggs when they get to a certain age – breed and health dependent
- Egg production usually slows down in the cooler months
- Chickens need attention at least 2 times a day (food and water). Replace the bedding once a month or more often if you are attracting pests
- Coop needs to be thoroughly hosed and scraped with watered down bleach once a year (there will be a natural alternative to blench I am sure)
Not only can having your own chickens be great for the dinner table and your bellies but it can benefit your garden via compost and slug/bug reduction. If you are use to buying free range eggs from the supermarket their may also be a cost benefit for you as well.
Heidi Holbrook, Womama Founding Director