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Raising urban chickens

Backyard chickens provide eggs, entertainment, fertilizer and pest control for your garden. Here's what you need to know about raising urban chickens.

By Catherine Robertson

Raising urban chickens

Raising urban chickens

Why raise urban chickens?

Many Canadians are realizing the importance of renewable and sustainable food sources, shifting focus from traditional gardens to those which offer an alternative source of home-grown food. Urban chicken farming is also becoming very popular. Backyard hens provide eggs, entertainment, fertilizer and pest control for your garden and for minimal set-up and maintenance they are a welcome addition to your food supply.


Raising urban chickensPhoto by Catherine Robertson

Getting started

The first thing to do before delving into the wonderful world of backyard chickens is major research. Just like any new project or pet, chickens require attention and care. You also need to find out if your area by-laws allow backyard laying hens. Canadian cities that have jumped on the chicken band-wagon include: Guelph, Niagara Falls and Vancouver. After you’ve determined you can have a backyard flock, read, read and read! If you educate yourself, you and your family will enjoy caring for chickens.
 


Raising urban chickensPhoto by Catherine Robertson

What you'll need

Hens require access to a waterproof, predator-proof, ventilated shelter at all times. There should be nest boxes for them to lay their eggs in as well as perches to roost on. Soft bedding such as pine shavings is used to line the coop.

Hens’ primary source of nutrition is called layers mash (available at your local feed store for very little cost.) Chickens will also readily accept fruits, vegetables and other scraps from your kitchen (avoid meat or spoiled food). In the garden, they will also scratch for bugs, worms and plants. So If you don’t want them to eat your garden, be sure to fence plants in!


Raising urban chickensPhoto by Catherine Robertson

Raising your flock

Find a reputable source for your hens to ensure you start out with healthy, happy birds. Local farms and poultry supply shops are a good place to start. The best type of chickens to get for northern climates are Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, Chantecler or other cold-hearty breeds.

It's important hens have access to both shelter and the outdoors. In the winter, seal off coop windows with a vapour barrier and add extra layers of straw bedding. And be sure to keep predators in mind if you allow your hens to free-range as neighbourhood dogs and cats or raccoons, coyotes and hawks could attack them. All enclosures should be made with predator-proof materials.


Raising urban chickensPhoto by Catherine Robertson

Farm fresh eggs

The world of backyard chickens is a fascinating one. Hens provide hours of entertainment as well as fresh eggs daily, which your family and friends can enjoy! Set up and maintenance is really quite simple, and with just a little bit of research and work, you’ll have farm fresh eggs from your own back yard! This means you'll have eggs on hand to whip up any number of our amazing dishes, like these quick and easy breakfast recipes or sigh-worthy pies.


Raising urban chickensPhoto by Catherine Robertson

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Raising urban chickens

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