City Chickens: Laying The Groundwork

Chickens are awesome, and you totally want some!

That being said, first you should be sure you’re allowed to keep chickens on your property. Many cities allow you to keep up to three hens (NOT ROOSTERS). Phone your city hall to be sure! And you fall under a neighborhood or homeowner’s association, check their bylaws before proceeding.

Even if chickens are legal in your area, remember that neighbors can still file official complaints, just as they can against a barking dog. It’s best for all concerned (including your chickens) if you plan to keep them enclosed inside a run 24/7, rather than setting them loose upon the neighborhood. A chicken can tear through a newly-planted garden in five minutes flat. Even the most understanding neighbor will not be pleased to find a swath of chicken-related destruction where once there had been tender vegetable starts.

You may also be burdened with a “problem” neighbor. If you are, you know what I’m talking about. Many people have found that this neighbor can be plied with the offer of fresh eggs on a semi-regular basis. (This is a good time to mention that your chickens’ eggs will have up to three times the omega-3 fatty acids, and 1/3rd the cholesterol, compared to conventional eggs. And they will be truly fresh - store-bought eggs are typically at least 100 days old.)

Let us now revisit that all-caps NO ROOSTERS. Although roosters are portrayed as crowing at the crack of dawn (which is annoying enough), the truth is that they crow all day long. It’s loud, too! Fortunately you do NOT need a rooster if you want to get eggs. Just as with mammals, your chickens will continue to ovulate regardless of whether the eggs are later fertilized. Hope I didn’t gross you out with that. It’s just biology.

Baby chicks can only be sexed for a very brief period of time after they are hatched. Most chicken sexers aim for an accuracy rate of 95-98%. Even if you buy female chicks (pullets), there is a small chance one of them will grow up into a rooster.

It’s almost impossible to find a home for a rooster. It’s slightly easier to find a stew pot for a rooster. The rooster could end up in your own stew pot, but are you really prepared to slaughter and clean a family pet in your tidy back yard? (“Why good morning, Mrs. Wallace! This? It’s a lung scraper. Can I interest you in a gizzard? I think it’s over there, near the killing cone. Mrs. Wallace? Mrs. Wallace!”)

I didn’t think so.

If you don’t feel like playing the odds, plan on buying “sex link” chickens. There are several chicken breeds which are color-coded by gender at birth. Black Sex Link is the most common of these.

Dolly, A Black Sex Link Pullet

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