Among the points made:
- chickens are a lot less expensive to feed than cats and dogs (I can attest to this, too)
- chickens are easier to take care of than cats and dogs (yup, I agree)
- chicken poop is a great fertilizer while dog poop can't be used as fertilizer because it contains organisms capable of causing disease in people
- dogs generally need store-bought food whereas chickens will consume vegetable scraps and bugs.
So why is it a city like Portland can have so many urban chickens with so little uproar while smaller cities are struggling at the mere thought allowing a clucking hen in their city limits?
“I think Portland is the perfect incubator for this sort of thing,” says Glenn Nardelli, who works at Pistils Nursery in North Portland and keeps three chickens behind his house in the nearby Overlook neighborhood. Pistils sells supplies for chicken farmers and holds workshops for people considering raising chickens. The workshops have been steadily growing in popularity.
“People are really sustainability-minded here,” Nardelli says.
But are urban chickens really sustainable?
They definitely are as producers of food, say West and others, because local production is a critical component of sustainability.
“In terms of egg harvesting, it doesn’t get any closer than walking out your back door,” Nardelli says. Not only do home-produced eggs mean Nardelli doesn’t have to expend gasoline on a trip to the supermarket, but the eggs don’t need to be trucked to the supermarket from a factory farm, where they likely would have been raised with hormones, antibiotics and pesticides.
Portland code allows city residents to keep up to three chickens without needing a permit. No roosters – with their morning wake-up calls – are allowed. But hens produce eggs without roosters.
Food for thought on a rainy Sunday afternoon...