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Monday, March 19


Since ancient times, chickens have been kept in barnyards and backyards as an easy-to-raise source of protein from their eggs and meat.  Today, there's growing interest in keeping chickens in modern urban settings. But like all domesticated creatures, chickens need appropriate food, housing and care from their keepers to thrive. Knowing what type of chicken will do well given your circumstances, and knowing how to give them what they need, is key to a successful and joyful chicken-raising enterprise.  To help you start your research into whether raising chickens is right for you, below are some facts to consider. 

-Farm livestock is not allowed within the city limits of most urban areas.  Check your municipal bylaws carefully before investing in your project. Currently it is illegal to keep chickens in the City of Toronto, however, there is a growing movement trying to change this bylaw.

-Chickens come in hundreds of varieties.  Choosing the right breed is the first step to success as it will determine if your chicken is better for laying eggs, producing meat, or a combination of these traits.  Day-old chicks or ready-to-lay pullets are available from rural feed stores or directly from hatcheries.  Some hatchery sites also give great advice on choosing the right type of chicken and providing proper care.

    -There are many chicken coop designs available to build or buy readymade.  Chickens require space, fresh air, light, and a safe place to sleep and nest.  If any of these items are missing it causes stress, leading to low or no egg production.  A practical design that promotes good health is the first concern, but it is nice to have them look attractive in your yard too.  Building your own coop can be very satisfying and  there are many plans to purchase online if you're looking for inspiration.  Although chickens are hardy (some varieties more than others), Ontario has a cold climate and they need protection from extreme weather

    -There is one downside to keeping chickens: hens produce eggs for only about two years, although they may live to be more than ten years old.  A few older birds will need to be culled each year so that new birds can be introduced to the flock in order to keep up a steady supply of eggs.  While there are chicken processing plants scattered across Ontario, very few will slaughter only one or two hens, leaving this unsavoury task to be done at home.  An older chicken’s final gift to you will be an excellent pot of chicken soup.

    Tips from, and featured flock belonging to, Chris Scrivener (Brantford, Ont).

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