Interest in chicken-raising has boomed in the last three years, says Angelina Shell, city chickens coordinator for Seattle Tilth, a group that promotes organic gardening. “A big part nowadays is people wanting to be more self-sufficient and wanting to know where their food comes from,” Shell says.
....Each city has its own rules on how many pets people are allowed to have. Some allow chickens. Others don’t. Seattle allows three on a standard 3,000 square-foot lot, but no roosters because their cock-a-doodle-doos would violate noise ordinances. Bellevue permits up to six, and just this year, Renton started allowing residents to keep up to three chickens.
Fresh eggs are the obvious benefit of having your own chickens. As they roam their yards, they also often eat slugs and bugs that might otherwise munch away at any flowers, herbs or veggies growing in a garden. They also like worms, which some gardeners wish the birds would leave alone. Chicken droppings are rich in nutrients and can be added to gardens to enrich the soil.
Keeping chickens is relatively easy. Aside from chicken feed – a 50-pound bag costs about $20 – all the birds need is clean water and shelter where they can nest, hunker down in bad weather and hide from raccoons, hawks, stray dogs and other predators. Coops can be made on the cheap by hand or cost thousands of dollars for elaborate designs.
Before I learned about animal rights, I was not a fan of chickens. In fact, to my shame, I remember telling a vegan that I didn't really care whether chickens suffered or not because I thought they were stupid, annoying birds. To her credit, the vegan lady didn't yell at me. Instead, she just noted that chickens were actually very gregarious personalities once they were out of their cages and in their own natural habitat. Over time, I have learned that is true.
I would love to get a chicken or two now for our backyard, but that idea has been nixed by EVIL MR. BARKY!