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Day 16: City Chickens

The women being interviewed on my local news station had me enthralled. These mothers, grandmothers, admitted to knowingly breaking the law but said they would continue committing this crime all the same. What was the heinous crime they were guilty of? Raising chickens in the city.

Just a few generations ago, you'd have been hard-pressed to find a family that didn't raise chickens. It's definitely part of our heritage. But now that most families live in the suburbs, the practice has fallen out of favor.

We've raised chickens for several years now, and I'll never be without them again. Out of our flock of nine we get about half a dozen eggs a day. And these are super-jumbo eggs, the kind that would put store bought extra large eggs to shame.

Because our chickens live a happy, free-range life their eggs are delicious. My children have been raised on them and can tell a store-bought egg by its taste (and they won't eat them). Eggs from free-range chickens also are higher in nutrients and Omega-3s (according to two studies done by Penn State).

I think its a shame that some cities don't allow chickens to be raised in the city limits. Small flocks aren't prone to disease, unlike the huge commercial-sized flocks. They don't smell bad so long as you keep their coop tidy (a dog would be a smelly pet too, if it wasn't picked up after.) And while the roosters do crow from an hour before sunup to long after sunset, hens are basically quiet creatures.

In this day and age, where we should be paying more attention to sustainability, making backyard chicken flocks illegal seems contraintuitive. Chickens are easy and inexpensive to raise (in the summertime ours are basically self-feeding.)

Think of how much money a family could save on their food bill by growing a garden and raising a few chickens. With the economy and all the struggling families, this seems like a good option. Besides, commercial eggs are among the top 10 foods to cause food poisoning. Isn't it better to know where your food is coming from?

So now I'll let you in on a little secret: many cities do allow backyard chicken flocks, even within city limits. Most have rules on how many you can raise (usually between two and six), and roosters are generally not allowed.

Does your city allow backyard chickens? Check out your City Codes to find out.

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