When people think of raising their own chickens, they often think they need a large farm in the middle of the country to do this. The truth is that raising chickens has become more popular with urban farmers. In Atlanta, where OWG is based, there has been a huge increase in the number of back-yard chicken coops over the past few years. We were able to catch up with Dr. Lauren Pittenger, one of those city-dwellers turned chicken-owner. Lauren has a PhD in Nutrition Science from the University of Georgia so she knew that she wanted to raise her own chickens because of the nutritional benefits (especially being able to control the diet of her chickens as well as having access to the freshest possible eggs). However, all of her education didn’t teach her how to raise her own flock. So for help, she turned to a local community garden that taught classes on raising your own chickens. After a few seminars, she felt equipped to start the process and has been enjoying farm-fresh eggs ever since. The process is easier than you might think.
What you need:
- A space to set up a chicken coop in your yard or community space. Make sure you check the local regulations regarding chickens in your neighborhood, some forbid it. Lauren and her husband created their own coop from a large dog pen and old wood they found. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just needs to offer a safe place for your chicks to spend the night and lay their eggs. Because Lauren has a large, fenced-in back yard, she opens up the coop to let the chickens roam around during the day. This provides of the added benefit of them eating up the bugs!
- A safe place for the chicks in their first 3 months. They need to be kept warm and safe from other pets (Lauren has 2 cats and 2 dogs) and any animals that may roam your neighborhood. Rather than purchasing a fancy incubator, Lauren created her own with a baby pool, straw, a heat lamp, and some chicken wire. She keeps the chicks on her screened-in front porch until they are big enough to move to the coop.
- Chickens. Lauren ordered hers online (Yep, they come in the mail, UPS same day delivery.). She recommends you find a site that will guarantee you get chickens. Your neighbors might not be very happy to be woken up by a Rooster at the crack of dawn every morning! Her company delivered day-old chickens to her door.
- Feed. Many local pet store stock chicken feed or you can find a local supplier online. Lauren also supplements their diet with apple cores, lettuce and other leafy greens.
Does the idea of raising chickens spark your interest? Make sure you check out our blog next Thursday to find out more!