Ready for your own Chickens?

Backyard chickens were rare in the city just a few years ago. Jump forward to today and they can be found all over. I see them in neighborhoods at all income levels - the allure of the yardbird isn't just for any particular segment of the population, but more for anyone interested in great, fresh eggs.

Why would so many bother with keeping chickens at their home? Free-range (not contained their whole lives in a single pen, building, or other cage or structure) chickens are healthier, therefore their eggs are healthier. They aren't fed antiboitics and other medicines (for the most part) that their fully caged brethern are. Factory Farm eggs at the store, generally, have also been taken at a point days or weeks before you get them and transported greater distances. No matter how fresh they appear and are marketed as, they aren't and can't be as fresh as local eggs - especially if they are from your own yard!

Chickens are fun to watch and they are easy to take care of. Generally they almost take care of themselves - with a bit of coop cleaning and maintenance from their owners and some additional food other than what they forage for on their own.

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Chickens will eat just about anything, and for the garden they are great because they stroll through dining on insects and other pests that we work pretty hard to keep out. They also eat vegetation and a lot of the backyard chicken folk I know feed them all kinds of kitchen scraps.

We'd love to have chickens. Our dogs would too. Unfortunately they'd make short work of them - not having chickens is one of our biggest things that make our garden, to us, feel incomplete. Having a great, wholesome, fresh protein source like daily eggs would really be a great addition to our home and our garden.

Just a few years ago we visited a friends home that kept chickens. I had my first experience, and only so far, grabbing an egg from under a laying hen. Weird. But cool experience at the same time. Most laying hens will lay an egg per day - for a handful of years. If there is a rooster around they could get fertilized, so most backyard chicken folk don't have the guys, just the girls. Natural eggs also don't look like what you expect from the grocery store. They can be all sorts of colors, sizes and can differ a bit in shape as well.

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Natural eggs also have darker, more orange, yolks.

Interested in learning more? There's an event this weekend, May 2nd, in NoDa. The "Queens Coop". It's a fundraiser for Second Harvest Food Bank, but also a fun and educational event that's all about the yardbird. One of the sponsors, Microfarm Organic Gardens will also be on hand to answer questions about raising chickens - they help many newbies get started and build custom coops as well - check out their work and info here -> http://microfarmgardens.com/chicken-coops/

Their mission statement:

"Welcome to Charlotte’s very first Queen’s Coop, Yardbird fair and Coop Tour. The Queen’s Coop is a one-day Free Range tour in Charlotte, North Carolina, that seeks to educate visitors about chicken nutrition, the benefits of organics and non GMO products as well as providing a forum for tips on all things chicken. Open to adults and children, the tour showcases coop construction and design by members of the community. Coop owners are on hand at each location to discuss the how-tos of chicken keeping and there are opportunities for photographing and getting to know the chickens. The wide variety of coop styles as well as the surrounding back yards make the tour interesting for the whole family.

Prior to the tour, enjoy a range of activities at Four Dogs Pet Supplies. The activities include Breakfast by Heist Brewery, Chicken Nutrition class by Jeff Mattocks, and a show and tell by Microfarm Organic Gardens. Maps will be distributed at noon and run until 4pm.

Prizes will be awarded for the most eco-friendly coop, funkiest/best decorated coop, and also to the “Chicken ala Queen” for the people’s favorite. Purchase your tickets early and join us for a fun-filled day of all things chicken."

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