We had two of the older laying hens living in our yard out at the farm. We named them Beauty (the black one) and Mops (the brown chicken). They were great pets and they put up with a lot of abuse from our kids!
Being back in the city is an adjustment and one of the hardest things is the feeling of loss of control over our food sources. I will never get used to buying my eggs in the grocery store. I plan to go back to urban gardening in the spring and I have been sprouting in the kitchen, but I am hoping that by springtime we will have the ability to have some laying hens in the yard here in downtown Grand Rapids. Having land to farm is wonderful, but even after living on 32 acres, I am amazed at how much food can be produced in a very small yard and I really believe it is possible to raise much of your own food even in the city. We have quite a few neighbors practicing Urban Homesteading and raising much of their own food. There is a movement building momentum right now working to change the city ordinance which prohibits keeping chickens in the city.
If there is anyone in the Grand Rapids area that is interested in getting involved in the recently formed Urban Chicken Movement, please consider joining us at the Eastown Neighborhood Association this Wednesday Novemeber 11, 2009 at 7:00pm.
We are all very hopeful the ordinance will be changed soon. There is quite an interest in this topic. We also have a facebook group Urban Laying Hens...Chickens for Grand Rapids.
Here are a few reasons I believe Hens can live in the city:
1. They don't need much room, there are some great chicken tractor designs that you just move around your yard every few days to keep the chickens on fresh grass and they will mow your lawn for free.
2. Seven laying hens produce as much waste as one average sized dog, but unlike dog waste, chicken waste produces great compost material and fertilizer for your garden.
3. They don't make much noise, you don't need a rooster.
4. They are beautiful and living things are wonderful to have around.
5. Chickens provide pest control in your garden, eating harmful bugs and slugs.
6. The eggs they produce are much healthier and more nutritious than those you buy in the store.
and here is my favorite reason to have chickens in the yard:
7. They eat up all your kitchen scraps!
Here are Beauty and Mops enjoying leftover stale cake! Okay so maybe that's not the best thing to feed them...