|Raise Your Own Chickens
By Sus Danner
On a recent trip to the grocery store, I marveled at the price of a
carton of organic eggs ó $4.99 ó and the fact that they had been shipped
from a distant state!
It felt great to walk away knowing that I have a cheaper, tastier, humane and local source of organic eggs: my backyard!
Even City Folk Can Do It
According to a 2006 report by the United Nationsí Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock industry produces 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide.
Choosing locally raised livestock can help to reduce air pollution
related to the long-distance transportation of meat and poultry
We city dwellers may not be able to offset our carbon use by growing a
steer in the backyard. But in most suburbs and even some cities, itís easy to raise chickens.
I got my pair as chicks at a local feed
store. You can also find them through mail order from several reputable
companies. I chose hens only; in my city of Boise, Idaho, roosters are
Chickens donít require much room to thrive. I have a postage stamp of a backyard, and thatís plenty of space for my two hens.
I use an old dog house for a coop (where the birds sleep at night),
and let the chickens out in my fenced yard during the day. Most chickens
donít fly much, so they never leave the yard. But you might need
additional fencing to protect chickens from the dogs and raccoons that
will be tempted to prey on them.
Watching the chickensí interactions and behavior is very entertaining
ó curious children in my urban neighborhood often drop by my backyard
Trading Earwigs for Eggs
Chickens are easy to care for, too. Their
principal diet consists of the pests and weeds in my yard. I provide
fresh water and feed to supplement their backyard pickings.
Since getting my two chickens, Iíve seen reductions in slugs, snails and earwigs ó not to mention dandelions and other weedy plants. I compost the chicken droppings into excellent fertilizer for my garden.
Each hen lays an egg every day-and-a-half. The eggs that my chickens lay are delicious, with bright yolks and strong shells ó and they donít require factory farming, packaging or long-distance trucking.
Raising your own hens lowers your carbon footprint and your slug population ó and itís a whole lot of fun!
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