Sunday, January 30, 2011

How many of us have road-side chickens?

I visited my parents new house in Seattle this weekend, and wouldn't you know it, a neighbor just two doors down from them has chickens!

How did I know he has chickens? Because he keeps his coop along the side of the house, just a few feet from the sidewalk. This isn't to say he doesn't have a backyard to keep them in. He does, but his girls are there for all the world to see and (like me) admire and wonder about.
side-yard coop in the Tangle Town neighborhood of Seattle
I snapped the picture above as I was returning from my morning run around Green Lake. You can clearly see the sidewalk to the right, and the tree-lined street is just a few feet beyand.  I couldn't help but smile as I saw these two chickens going about their morning scratching-and-pecking ritual there by the side of the road in full view of anyone walking or driving by.

It got me wondering how many others keep their girls on display for all the world to see? I suppose local zoning laws exert a lot of influence over exhibiting your chooks out in the open, but for those who can, do you? And if not, why not?

For the record, there's nothing in the regulations here in Redwood City to stop us from keeping urban chickens in the front yard. I just worry one of my egg-layers might wind up as dinner on someone else's table. We've got enough problems with raccoons, I don't want to have to worry about other invaders of the human kind.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another beautifully sculptured urban chicken coop

I'm a sucker for creative, cleverly designed and aesthetically pleasing coops.

So when a friend sent a link to the nogg, I got all warm inside thinking how cool it would be to have this cedar coop placed in the corner of my yard. From their press kit:
The nogg is a modern chicken coop that has been designed in the shape of an egg. It has been designed to house from 2-4 chickens and is to encourage domestic farming while adding a touch of playful elegance to sit beautifully in any garden, urban or rural environment. The nogg is designed to enhance and compliment its surroundings and fit sculpturally with this aesthetic assumption.
In a sign of true chicken design pedigree, the nogg folks hail from the UK (just like the Omlet design folks did before them).

And in a sign of just how design-minded the nogg manufacturers are, you can download over 100Mb of high resolution pictures of the nogg "sculpture" (aka "coop-porn") from their one-page website. Tip: you can also see the same images in a much lighter weight PDF by downloading the press kit.

So here's to delightful coop design! Sing your praises to nogg folks on twitter @noggchickencoop

Monday, January 24, 2011

What to do when chickens no longer lay eggs?

Photo courtesy Flickr user fooferkitten
So what do you do when your hen no longer lays eggs? Keep her around out of gratitude for all those years of eggs? Put her out to (someone else's) pasture? Or do you (gulp!) "process" her?

There's been some traffic on the Silicon Valley Chickens mailing list recently about what to do with old hens, and it seems there's a general agreement that processing an old hen is a rather cruel way to show thanks for eggs well laid.

While some urban chicken keepers seem content to keep the old chooks around for amusement, the more economically minded chicken farmers seem less than enthralled with the idea of all those extra mouths to feed.

And those of us who live where there are tight restrictions on the number of hens allowed in a backyard can't really keep a flock of non-layers around if we're in it for the omelets, can we?

So it seems there's two strategies for mercifully coping with the inevitable aging of hens:
  1. Once she stops laying (at age 3 or 4 or 5, depending on your hen's productivity cycle), offer her up  to someone who's got a much larger patch of land and is willing to keep a large non-laying flock. Or,
  2. Sell her while she's still in her laying prime, commanding a higher price and making room for another fluffy chick in the coop to start all over again.
What have you done when your chickens stopped laying? Or if you haven't gotten there yet, what are your plans for hens d'un certain âge?


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