/ The Seattle Traveler
Seattle — By Mary Jo Manzanares on May 19, 2010 at 10:44 am
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Seattle’s Own Chicks in the City

The chicks are out on the town!  Not those four fashion-plates from Sex and the City, but real chicks – of the feathered, egg-laying, “aren’t they cute” variety.

Baby Chickens Seattle city ordinances allow residents to keep up to three chickens per standard city lot, enough to supply you with a weekly dozen and a few extras.  Don’t worry about the rooster crowing at the crack of dawn either.  Turns out, you don’t need a rooster unless you want to birth live chicks, a little tidbit that urban dwellers may not know.  This means you can enjoy your fresh eggs surrounded by only the gentle clucking rhythm of your hens.

Owning city chickens requires preparation, though, and lots of ongoing daily care.  Make sure you understand what’s involved before bringing the chicks home, and make sure your commitment will extend beyond the adorable fluffy chicks stage.  These are living creatures and deserve a good home.

So what’s involved?

Well, you’ll need a coop large enough for your chicks to grow into hen-hood, allowing them room to eat, sleep, and forage.  The coop must extend well below the ground, keeping them safe from predators who might be tempted to burrow in.  A coop need not be expensive, especially if you look around for recycled supplies.  Or, you may want to make the coop a design focal point the your landscape, which can boost the price higher while esthetically enhancing your yard.

Buying the chicks is probably the easiest and most inexpensive part of the process.  You can find them at farm and feed supply stores in the spring time, at local fairs, and from local breeders.  Some breeds are more gentle and better suited for life in the city.  Do some research before making a purchase so you don’t end up with a breed that gets aggressive when they are “mad as a wet hen.”

Chickens can eat up large amounts of kitchen and yard waste, eating most vegetables and fruits, weeds, along with any leftover rice and pasta that you might be throwing out. It will take very little effort to reduce your landfill contribution, making chickens a good way to help reduce your carbon footprint.  And a Seattle bonus – chickens eat slugs!

In addition to food and water, you’ll need to clean the chicken coop regularly to prevent disease and odor.  Another bonus, is that chicken manure makes an excellent fertilizer and compost.  You’ll also need to monitor hen health and provide veterinarian care, as needed.  The coop will need regular maintenance, making sure that it stays secure and keeps the chicks in and everything else out.

Your return on investment for all this work – about an egg a day from each hen.

You can get additional information about raising chicks in the city from Seattle Tilth (map) , a non-profit community group that teaches people how to improve their environment by using organic gardening techniques.  They provide extensive information covering a variety of environmental topics, and also offer classes on raising city chickens.

There are Chicks in the City right here in Seattle!

Photo credit: SXC

Related places:
  1. A
    Tilth Association
    4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, Seattle, WA
    View Details and Book

    1 Comment

  • Christina says:

    Before I lived in Alaska this kind of thing might have made me do a double take … and I love the idea of having fresh eggs!

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