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Topic: backyard chickens
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July 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Remember when we told you all those reasons to avoid keeping backyard chickens? Sounds like some of you disagreed.
Seattle landed on Redfin’s “Top Five Cities To Be A Chicken,” a list the online real estate brokerage drew up by analyzing home listings over the past three months that included chicken enclosures as a feature.
Portlandia — we mean, Portland — was number one, followed by three California cities (Ventura, San Diego, and Sacramento) and then Seattle.
Contrary to assumptions, urban chicken owners don’t necessarily own large plots, according to Redfin. “(O)n average, listings with chicken coops have smaller homes and smaller lots, but larger price tags. It appears some buyers are willing to pay a little more for a home with a henhouse.”
Along with the Redfin survey comes a timely but shrill NBC report blaming “stupid foodies” and “hipsters” who “can’t cope” for large numbers of abandoned urban chickens. Take away the gibes and it’s mostly a reminder of these issues.
The usual don’t-take-this-as-scientific-proof-survey-caveats: Redfin’s analysis only looked at markets it covers nationwide, so it’s not all-inclusive. The numbers weren’t calculated per capita, which makes it all the more impressive that Ventura, pop. 107,514, did so well against Seattle, which is nearly six times the size.
Keeping all that in mind, we asked the Redfin folks what the worst place would be to be a chicken. The surprising answer by their metrics was San Jose, which is generally thought to be chicken friendly. Other low scorers were Las Vegas, Boston, and Miami.
From the chicken’s perspective, I wonder if the best place to be a chicken might be Austin, TX — that’s the vegan capitol of the country.
May 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Every time I visit friends with backyard chickens and come home with treasures like blue-green Aracuna eggs, I debate whether I should get my own flock.
Just when I think I can balance the responsibility and nuisances of chicken care against the benefits, along comes a perfectly pointed post from Erica Strauss of the Northwest Edible Life blog, one of my favorite gardening resources, assuring readers like me that “You Absolutely Should Not Get Backyard Chickens.”
She highlights the “henopause” problem: Hens are done with their prime laying lives around age 3, but might easily live another five years, eating a lot of expensive chicken feed along the way. (Most commercial operations cull hens at age two, notes Seattle Tilth.) “So basically those are your two choices: you continue to pay and care for chickens that barely give you eggs or you cowboy up and you deal with the slaughter of no longer profitable hens,” she wrote.
I’d be fine supporting those older hens simply as pets and compost producers– except that, as Strauss reminds us, for Seattle city-dwellers they would be taking up slots in the limited quota of eight chickens allowed on most lots (that in itself is an increase from the mere three chickens that used to be allowed.)
I wouldn’t be up for slaughtering chickens that had been seen as “pets with benefits” — or even sending them off to be slaughered for someone else’s soup pot. But I also don’t think I would take on the responsibility and cost of chickens without getting the payoff of the eggs. So I’m out. How about you? (Read Erica’s entire post, along with more than 200 comments bringing up other notable points, over here.)
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