The New Backyard Chicken Craze
A trending new backyard activity has put a completely new meaning to locally fresh eggs. I’m talking about “backyard chickening”. This is obviously nothing new to country folk but it is now spreading into the backyards of suburban dwellers. Perhaps it’s part of the modern progressive food movement and the newfound interest in rural customs. Whatever it is, it sounds like a great idea and city legislators seem to agree. So far, 166 cities in the U.S. allow backyard chickens (with a basic set of rules of course.)
A lot of people these days are interested in getting their food from a local and trustworthy place. By eating local, you are reducing food miles but better yet, your food is much fresher and healthier. This is the appeal with backyard chickens since as soon as the egg comes out of the chickens you-know then it’s ready to eat! Assuming your city permits you to do so, a venture into backyard chickening could make the farm-to-plate scenario a thing of the past (in regards to eggs at least.)
You can start by deciding whether to build a chicken coop or purchase one pre-made. The costs can range from $50 to $1000 depending on how fancy you are looking to be. As for the baby chicks, they are typically priced from $3.00-$5.00 each. If you don’t want to wait for them to grow up you will have to invest up to $15.00- $25.00 per laying hen according to livestock suppliers. Most cities allow you to have three chickens per household and you must have the coop at least five feet from your neighbor’s yard and at least 20 feet from their house.
My parents live on a nice property in Northern California and happened to care for nearly 20 chickens of their own. On a regular visit upstate, I frequently eat the eggs from their happy free-roaming chickens during breakfast hours and can attest that a fresh egg is much tastier and has a substantially healthier appearance. The shells are harder when cracking them against the pan, the yolks are a brighter shade of yellow, and the taste is bursting with flavor! If I had to conduct a blind taste test on a factory farmed, egg VS a farm fresh there would be no question I could tell the difference as I’m sure many others would as well.
Any egg you buy from the grocery store is almost guaranteed that it came from a sick and highly depressed hen somewhere in America and the proof is in the pudding. Factory eggs are pale, shells brittle, and the flavor is dull and lacking to say the least. Ingesting an egg of this sort gives me an uneasy feeling that I’m ingesting the chickens pain and suffering and not to mention loads of hormones and antibiotics.
In a post titled “ The beginners guide to backyard chickens” the author states that the new trend suggests
that people from all different backgrounds and proclivities are stumbling toward the same basic goal: freedom from the industrial food culture.
Now this is an important thing to many people including myself. The other bonuses to backyard chickens are that they can virtually recycle all your organic veggie and food scraps since they will eat just about anything. Another plus is they can pasture your yard and keep bugs at bay keeping your garden free of unwanted pests. And last but not least chickens believe it or not make great pets. They follow you around and sit on your lap. I named one of my parent’s chickens Chloe (pictured above left) since she seemed to be a little more special than the others. Chickens are quite social little creatures and are generally pretty quiet too so there is no reason to worry about them being noisy.
If I didn’t live in an apartment, I would take part in this backyard chicken craze. Until then I’ll just purchase my eggs from the downtown farmers market on Sunday because factory eggs are a far cry from the real thing in my book.
Photo Credit: All Rights Reserved by Angie Tarantino
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