Chickens in the suburbs?
Actually, this isn't as crazy as it sounds.
I have a small flock of
hens in my garden for pleasure and also to help
keep garden pests at bay. They provide many benefits to the garden
addition to fresh eggs.
First, they absolutely
adore slugs and other garden pests. When let out to roam the
back yard in the mornings, they devour any slugs they find still
out in the morning dew (in the spring and early summer - that's
a lot of slugs!). Also, all I have to do is to tip up my pots
and any slugs or earwigs hiding underneath are quickly devoured.
Another delicacy on the
chicken's menu is dandelions. These seem to be some of their
favorite greens, and the hens love to pick at them while they
are out or wait for me to toss them into their run.
Of course, you do need
to keep the hens out of your vegetable bed if you don't want
them to help them-selves, but I find a short fence of chicken
wire does the job well.
People may not think of
it immediately, but one of the best benefits of owning chickens
is 'black gold'. Their aged droppings make for absolutely one
of the best fertilizers you can find. I add the droppings from
their hen house to my compost pile along with spent hay from
their nests, and always have a supply of rich, fertile compost
for the garden.
All in all, keeping chickens
in your backyard can be a move towards a more fertile, organic,
and pesticide-free garden, in addition to the liveliness they
add to the scene.
Please be sure to check
with your city about whether it is legal to keep chickens in
your area first, and remember your neighbors, you don't need
a rooster to have a group of happy, productive hens!