Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Raising Chickens in The Big Apple

Coachie Taking A Bite Out of the Big Apple                                     Photo: Nancy Shobe

Raising chickens in an ultra chic, urban environment takes a little extra creativity and a whole lot of pre-planning.  Meredith Engel penned an excellent article, How to Raise Chickens in New York City, in Metro.  If you're not a Big Apple chicken farmer, fear not. Engel's article has a multitude of good ideas for rural, suburban and urban chicken farmers.

Here are some of its highlights:
(The comments in parentheses are my own additions.)

1. Don't expect to get rich off of raising hens. (Raising "bull" on the NY Stock Exchange is a
    far better scheme for getting rich.)

2.  Don't raise hens if you don't have the time. (Unless, of course, you can afford to hire a
     chicken nanny.)

3.  Choose your breed. Heirloom breeds make great pets, live a long time, but produce
     fewer eggs. Larger quantities of eggs come from birds that generally live a shorter time.
     (Thank goodness the same isn't true for Moms having children.)

4.  Provide enough space for the birds. (John Kay from Steppenwolf couldn't have sang it
     better. Chickens are "Born to be Wild.")

5.  It's important to adopt no less than three birds. ("Only" children are verboten in the
     chicken world. Chickens like to flock.)

6.  Give the hens a place for pecking, dustbathing, scratching, and nesting. (Sounds like
      you'll be moving them into your Manhattan flat.)

As for my own personal addition to Ms. Engel's list, please make sure you check the chatter level of the birds you've decided to raise. I had to give away two of my Rhode Island Reds, and I don't live in Manhattan or anywhere near New York. The Reds were incredible layers but they just couldn't keep their gabbing down. (It probably had something to do with their desire to cross the water to Long Island. You know those Rhode Islanders. They yearn to live in The Big Apple.)

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