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Chelsea Green Blog

Raising Chickens in Your Home: A Win-Win

By R. J. Ruppenthal

From the Community Blogs.

When I wrote the Fresh Food From Small Spaces book, I happily included a chapter on raising chickens on a small scale for fresh eggs. My hope was that we could get a few more people started with this, even as more readers probably had a greater interest in the gardening, sprouting, mushrooming, or perhaps fermenting aspects of the book. Even in some small homes with even smaller yards/gardens/lawns/patios, it is very possible to raise chickens on a small and humane scale and harvest some fresh eggs each week.

When I wrote the book, I had no idea that the chicken chapter would become one of the most popular parts of the book and one reasons a lot of people are buying it or seeking it out at their local libraries. There has been a huge trend toward more home food growing in the last year or two, and the chicken trend is proving enormously popular. Considering that chickens can peck up your insect pests, fertilize your garden or lawn, and produce fresh eggs at the same time, I think it’s a win-win situation.

The main obstacle for many folks is the outdated set of laws that may exist in their local communities. I go into this in detail in my book, while making it clear that people must check the laws in their cities or counties before doing something that could be illegal. Every time I give a book talk now, there is at least one person in the crowd who has a story to tell about changing local laws for the better. Once upon a time, these laws were motivated by health scares or worries about noise, but nowadays, people realize that hens are not that noisy, you don’t need roosters to produce eggs, and the health of home grown chickens is far better than those that are factory farmed. (Did you see the news report yesterday from Consumer Reports saying that 2/3rds of the factory farmed chickens they tested contained salmonella or campylobacter? Ick…). Anyway, I could tell you about two or three cities that have moved recently to change their laws to allow residents to keep a couple of egg-laying hens, and there is a definite trend in this direction. If your municipality does not allow this yet, go to a council meeting and tell them to get with the program.

Cluck, cluck. How would you like your eggs? Homegrown, please! Or at least local and organic…

A licensed attorney and college professor, R. J. Ruppenthal has never given up on his gardening passion, even when his day jobs led him to a more urban life. He currently teaches at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, California, and lives and gardens in the San Francisco Bay area.

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