Popularity of raising chickens grows as more seek sustainable food options
Posted: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 8:00 pm
BRENTWOOD — As the popularity of chicken ownership continues to increase across the country, more families are taking control of what they put on the dinner table by raising poultry as a fun and educational family activity, or even as a small business opportunity in support of the local food movement.
Whatever the reason, to make the experience of owning chickens the best it can be, it’s a must to arm oneself with all that a person would need to know to successfully own and raise healthy, productive chickens.
The first consideration to address, if applicable, is determining whether residential zoning ordinances allow chickens, backyard coops or chicken houses. Residents should check with their municipality’s zoning board for relevant codes and to see if approval is needed before structures are erected. When applicable, check neighborhood homeowner associations as well.
Once conditions of ownership are understood, expert advice and information from the seasoned professionals at Tractor Supply Co. can help potential chicken owners start successfully by setting expectations and removing doubt caused by myths and misperceptions.
“One of our main questions was how much noise a flock of chickens would make and how it could affect our family as well as our neighbors,” said Danielle Newman of Livermore, Calif., who has been raising chickens with her family for the past seven years. “We asked the store manager at our local Tractor Supply and were told that since we had no plans to own a rooster, the noise would not be an issue, and it certainly hasn’t been at all.”
In fact, hens are fairly quiet. And roosters are not necessary for hens to lay eggs for consumption. Hens will let out a brief squawk to show off a new egg or if they become distressed. Otherwise, the noise from a hen is almost nonexistent.
Another common myth about raising chickens centers on the smell created by a small flock. In reality, chickens create no more odor than any other household pet.
“We’ve found that smell isn’t an issue in the least,” said Jenn Butt of Ruckersville, Va., a chicken owner for nine months. “We clean the coop regularly, and we really like having the compost for fertilizer. Honestly, the compost was a surprise bonus we weren’t expecting. We saw fantastic results in our garden and flower beds.”
Additionally, safety of the flock is a primary concern for many potential chicken owners.
“We have a lot of hawks where we live, so when we bought our first chickens last year we placed some large fake owls around our yard to scare away any winged predators,” said Kelly Nichols of Bloomville, N.Y. “We also created an area for the chickens that has a mesh cover on it, and we haven’t had any problems with safety.”
If the chicken yard area is not enclosed, it’s highly recommended to close and lock the coop at night to ensure good protection for the birds. Other predators to be aware of are raccoons, weasels, and yes, even the family dog or cat.
A final factor that is often overlooked involves the true motivation for buying chickens. With the correct research and planning, they can be a great family project to teach values and responsibility in addition to being a reliable and safe food source. However, gifting chickens to children, particularly as Easter gifts, is not the right reason to buy birds. Chickens are living creatures that can live 10 years or more but require proper care.
For those taking the plunge into chicken ownership for the first time or for the seasoned flock owner, Tractor Supply Co. is the resource for seasoned advice and every possible poultry need for providing the best care for chickens in rural, suburban and urban settings alike.
Through April 22, Chick Days returns to Tractor Supply Co., and customers can purchase a wide variety of chicks, ducklings and the supplies and equipment needed to properly care for them.
Tractor Supply Co. provides everything from poultry feed and feeders, net/fencing, drinking water systems, heat lamps and a wide variety of how-to books and magazines. Customers can also take advantage of Tractor Supply’s special order program that allows them to have their birds — including baby turkeys and ducks — shipped directly to their home. Customers can also log onto www.TractorSupply.com at Know-How Central to learn about different breeds, raising chickens and the special order program.
Published in The Messenger 4.2.13