As any regular farmers market shopper knows, a farm fresh egg is a wonderful thing! The taste of the yolk from an egg laid by hens who get to range freely and eat organic feed is so much better than the taste of eggs from large industrial farms, and you get the satisfaction of knowing you are contributing to a small farmer’s operation. If you’ve ever visited a farm, you know that chickens are funny little creatures that can be very entertaining to watch.
Did you know that if you live in Bellevue or Seattle, you can build your very own home chicken coop? In both of these cities, zoning regulations allow up to 6 birds for producing eggs at home, as long as you follow some basic rules. Here are some guidelines, tips, and tricks to keeping chickens at home.
A rooster crowing at sunrise is a romantic image when we think of farms in rural areas. However, a rooster blasting out an early morning alarm would not make the urban chicken-keeper very popular with her neighbors. If you want to keep chickens at home, make sure you get only female birds. Regulations prohibit keeping roosters in the city. If you discover a rooster in your home flock, it must either be slaughtered or moved somewhere where roosters are allowed, outside of the city. This can be accomplished by simply putting a listing for a free rooster on Craigslist or a similar website. Hens also make a bit of noise, but they are much more tolerable than roosters. The females sometimes squawk and cackle when they are laying eggs, but they will be completely quiet when it is dark outside, because they will be sleeping.
Build a good coop
Chickens can roam free in your yard with supervision, but they are not the smartest of creatures, and if you let them roam unsupervised, they will find all sorts of ways to get into trouble. From cars to dogs to raccoons, there are plenty of ways for urban chickens to meet an untimely end. Chickens should always be kept in the coop at night. When you build their coop, make sure it is well sealed to ensure that rats and other scavengers can’t get into the feed or steal the eggs. Here’s a handy page on how other people have built their coops.
Create a barter economy!
Eggs from a home coop are a very valuable item in a neighborhood food bartering economy. Maybe your neighbors have a tasty garden vegetable you covet? Trade them some eggs! Maybe you need a hand with a project that might be a bit of an imposition? Eggs to the rescue! Trades like this help you bond with your neighbors and make a friendly, positive social environment in an urban environment that can sometimes feel isolating and individualistic.
Send us photos of your home coop!