To read part
one of The Urban Chicken Click
Before you start off on your chicken adventure you might want to check to see if it is legal in your city. Many cities have laws against farm animals that include chickens. Most of these laws were created back when the city was first becoming established as a modern city. Often the intent was to end the practice of keeping a large chicken coop (with twenty and more chickens) and other farm animals in the yard. Many cities are now changing these laws to allow pigs and other animals previously considered farm animals to be viewed as pets. Some cities consider chickens to be pets as long as you only keep them in limited numbers. Without suggesting that anyone break the law or do anything illegal, some people have kept three to four chickens in very nice neighborhoods where it was not legal, as long as their neighbors did not complain.
Your next step involves doing the research to find a place to purchase chickens in an urban area. You might find chicks in local pet stores around the Easter holiday. Be cautious when purchasing from a pet store as they sometimes purchase only rooster chicks (yes they can tell the sex of a chick with about a 95% accuracy rate) as they are cheeper or they might not care if the breed is a good egg layer. Ask about the sex of the chicks as well as the breed.
Chickens can usually be purchased from a tack and feed store. These are found through your yellow pages in even some of the largest most established cities. Start with the one located closest to you and if they do not carry chickens, they might be able to tell you where you can find them. Even if the local tack and feed does not sell chicks the will very likely sell scratch (chicken food) which will be a more regular purchase.
If you live in a smaller city or in a more rural area you might find a local farmer or chicken rancher that is willing to part with some chicks or even laying hens. There are also mail order companies but they only ship in quantities that are too large for an urban setting.
Once you have located a source for chickens you need to find out your options. Many urban tack and feeds that do sell chickens purchase a variety of breeds when they are a few days old and sell these chicks until they are all sold. Once a batch is sold they then purchase the next batch. This means that they might have little hatchlings or chickens that are as much as a month or more in age. They might have a large selection of breeds or just one or two to choose from. If you are not in a hurry you can ask them to order for your specific needs when they next place their order for chicks. Chances are you will be able to find some good information about breeds that do very well in your area.
If you purchase chicks that are only a few days old, they are much more likely to bond with you and behave a little more like a pet than a chicken that is a month or older. On the other hand young chicks require a little more work and care and must be kept in a brooder in your home or at least in your garage. You will have to pay for less food and wait less time to start collecting eggs if you purchase an older chick, and it is easier to be certain of the chickens sex, the older it is (roosters have pointier feathers than the hens)
Buy only hens. Despite a common myth, you do not need a roster to get a hen to lay. Roosters will make a lot of noise and anger your neighbors, while offering no benefit to you or your hens. What is needed is patience. It takes about six months (more for some breeds) before a chicken is mature enough to start laying. Novices sometimes give up on their chickens ever laying eggs a week or two before they finally start.
In our next publication we will talk about the care and maintenance of your chickens.
To read part one of The Urban Chicken Click Here!
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