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Chickens are the “New Black” in the ‘Burbs

Submitted by on June 26, 2010 – 11:05 am 4 Comments

Why Chickens?

Chickens are the new black in Green Urban Living. Once you have read the  following I’m sure you will be racing out to get your own feathery flock!

Tasty, Rich, Nutritious Eggs

As Kiwis we love our cats and dogs, but do they produce anything edible?  Do they pay their own way? Chickens do, and once you’ve dined on their eggs you’ll never buy from the supermarket again. Your own free range eggs are full of flavour. You’ll even see the difference in the yolks, which are a healthy orange, not the pale yellow of caged birds.

Research shows that chickens allowed to free range and eat grass lay eggs that are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E and at the same time lower in cholesterol than store-bought.

Chickens Have Wonderful Personalities — Seriously!

Each chicken has their own completely unique quirky, engaging  and endearing personality. They’re stunningly beautiful too, parading around in a variety of colors, patterns, shapes and sizes. And the beautiful ones know it!

Get One Step Closer to Sustainable Living

Do you find it disconcerting how far removed we all are from the animals and plants we need to survive? How our fast-paced lives and ever-increasing demands are trashing the planet that sustains us?  Make a stand against all this by keeping some feathered friends.

A Healthy Lawn with no Chemicals

Chickens LOVE to range free. They’ll eat any garden pest they can get their beaks on (caterpillers, earwigs, grubs, beetles, even cockroaches) and they’ll turn it all into treasure in the form of organic compost. Say goodbye to toxic, costly pest control sprays and wasteful bags and bottles of store-bought fertiliser and say hello to organic living. Chickens will even cut down on the amount of mowing you do because they love to eat grass.

Kitchen leftovers become a Resource

Chickens can eat almost anything people can, and they adore “people food” .  They are the Labradors of the bird world!  Save all  those unwanted leftovers for the  chicken run. No more feeling guilty about letting food rot in the fridge or throwing it out! Watch out for the garlic and onion, though, unless you want your eggs tasting funny.

 A Balanced Compost Pile

Composting is a wonderful way to reduce your ecological footprint, and a nitrogen-rich compost pile is a healthy compost pile. What better to provide the nitrogen than chicken pooh? Eggshells are a great addition, too, especially in areas where there’s lots of clay in the soil. At the end of the composting process you’ll have “black gold” soil, so called because it’s so rich and fertile.

Handy Leaf, Weed, and Grass Clipping Removal

Leaves, weeds and grass clippings are a treat for chickens. They’ll happily dig through whatever you give them, eat what they can, and pulverize the rest.  I feed our chooks all our grass clippings and weeds and they mix it with their droppings turning it into rich black compost.

Save a Chicken from a Factory-Farm Life

If you’re aware of conditions in factory farms, even in some of the so-called “free range” farms, I needn’t say more. If you’re not, please research it. Factory farming is terrifyingly cruel. Each hen has about an A4 sheet of paper space for their miserable short life. The good news is that by keeping a few pet chickens of your own, you’re reducing the demand for supermarket bought eggs and sending a message to those factory farms that you don’t want what they’re selling.

The Very Definition of Low-Maintenance

Chickens don’t need to be walked, brushed, or fed twice a day. they don’t require council registration or annual trips to the vet. Essentially all you have to do is gather eggs daily, fill their food and water containers a couple of times a week and change their bedding once a month, and the occassional cuddle if your lucky!

Be the Coolest Kid on the Block

Despite their many merits, backyard chickens are still relatively uncommon. Surprise neighbors, friends and family by being the first person they know to have chickens.  Make them green with envy at the lawn your flock has made effortlessly fabulous. Share beautiful eggs with them and they will all be running out to get their own hens.

They make wonderful Pets for Children

Much better than a rabbit or guinea pig chickens actually give something back. They can be easily tamed and teach children responsibility and nuturing skills. Bantams are a perfect size for our wee tackers!

Have I sold you on chickens ? Great, next week I will discuss what sort of space you require and council regulations.

Janet Luke

I am a Landscape Architect with a Masters in Environmental Planning and a passion for permaculture.  My business, Green Urban Living (www.greenurbanliving.co.nz), is all about showing how even city dwellers can make a real difference to their families health, wallet and the environment.  I run keeping chicken workshops, chicken dome building workshops, organic gardening courses, and pizza oven courses. I also provide landscape and permaculture design services.  Green Urban Living.co.nz provides a knowledge sharing community forum (http://www.greenurbanliving.co.nz/forum/index.php), green products and lots of helpful articles and information.
The most satisfying thing for me abut the Green Urban Living approach is the amazing education for my children. My three boys, all under 7 years old, are a key part of the planting, harvesting and chicken breeding and rearing process.  It is great to see the boys, friends and the neighbours wondering my ‘crop circle’ gardens munching on carrots, fresh peas, fruits and beans after school as if it is the most natural thing in the world to do.
Which of course is exactly what it is…

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  • Liz says:

    I totally agree with you. Chooks are one of the most surprisingly delightful pets you can have. And one of the few that give something tangible back. I think it’s important to highlight though that chooks do not lay all year around. I’ve known some people to be disappointed when they discover that there are many months of the year without eggs and subsequently ‘get rid of’ their chooks. It’s a huge shame because as you said, they take so little time, effort and money to look after. A chook is for life, not just for the dinner table.

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  • janet says:

    Important point Liz. though I have to admit even if chickens did’nt lay eggs I would still keep them as they are so useful in an edible garden.

    Chickens generally stop laying for 2-3 months over winter while they are molting and growing new feathers and because the daylight hours are reduced.

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  • Beulah says:

    Thank you Janet. I invested in three Minorca pullets last Christmas. They are beautiful, with brilliant black plumage shot with a green sheen, red combs and wattles, white earrings and white toenails. Lovely senoritas giving me three big white eggs a day!

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  • Sue P says:

    I loved this article. I live in the middle of a small town and keep 2 chooks – usually. I have a completely enclosed section and shut the gate all time. Unfortunately one got taken by a dog yesterday. It must have jumped the gate – I followed the trail of white feathers to a pile of white feathers! Ahh, I will miss her. Am thinking of retiring the little black one that is left and getting a couple of shavers. But the shavers I had before were so friendly and constantly in the house – leaving their little packages all over my carpet! I believe most councils allow you to keep chickens … but NO rooster! Happy chicken keeping, everyone!

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