Category: Micro Farming

Can it Make a Difference?

1283293_eggsThere are approximately 250,000 households in the city of Seattle.  The citizens of the city of Seattle stood together and now have the ability to keep 8 hens per household.  There is a sense of local food and self sufficiency in the Pacific Northwest.  Backyard chickens is a great way to take some responsibility and repurpose some waste and produce some food.

Let’s suppose that half of those households were to keep the legal limit of 8 hens.  While we are pondering this, we will just say that they have access to standard breeds from standard hatcheries.  A good average might be 160 eggs conservatively for an average of laying breed birds.

In a years time those 8 hens that lay 160 eggs a year would lay a grand total of around 1280 eggs a year per household.  Thats a good bit of eggs from a home flock on average.  Of course some results will be much higher and some much lower.

Of those 250 thousand households, not everyone will tackle the backyard chicken keeping.  It really isnt for everyone, and everyone isnt cut out to take responsibility for the birds.  There are also some folks that dont eat eggs.

So we drop down to half of the households just to show a perspective of taking initiative to produce something and not just consume.  If one half of the households were to keep 8 hens for egg production the people of the city of Seattle would be able to  produce about 160 million eggs a year.

In other words if half the houses in Seattle had a backyard flock of the legal limit of 8 hens the production would be about 13 million dozen eggs a year.  Thats a lot of eggs from a million chickens.

A million chickens eating the food scraps from the table that would normally go to the yard and food waste bin would make a difference too.  It would no longer be trucked to a stinky island and fermented into compost.  You would have all the fertilizer you could use to make your lawn and garden grow green.

And when those million chickens are done laying they would make tablefare for tamales, soup, or other similar meals.  We all know that after a couple years that egg production slows down and you have to keep them on, eat them, or list them in the classifieds as stew birds.

It isn’t for everyone but imagine if more effort were put into producing than consuming what could be accomplished?  The concept was initially sparked from an off the cuff reply about not being able to make a difference by changing outside forces.

Sometimes you have to start small but enough people do it there will be a difference.

Urban Farm Craze Refugees?

pekinFor unwanted birds Craigslist is also an excellent way to get rid of unwanted birds.  Our unwanted or non-laying birds typically go into tamales or similar dishes (young roosters are better for frying than old hens that need slow cooking).

People are so removed from their food source that they can’t put a duck or chicken into a table ready meal.  Meat doesn’t appear in a plastic tray with a wrapper from nowhere.

It is commendable that someone takes the time to collect birds.  The birds were originally intended most likely to produce a meal in the form of eggs.  The last several decades especially there has been a lot of pushback about keeping food animals in the city or even in the suburbs, especially for meat.

It seems that large scale farming is out of sight so it is out of mind and we can all breathe easier knowing that our frozen breast meat came from a micro managed environment where it did not have a name at all.

I will agree that it isn’t for everyone but to sensationalize a movement that has been around since the domestication of chickens and ducks into a ‘craze’ doesn’t seem like the appropriate way to view the situation.

Keeping the Chickens Cool This Summer

While we re not getting very high temps here in Seattle, there are quite a few places that are.  Just in case some of you are in those hot places like where I grew up, here are some tips and tricks to help you deal with your chickens in the heat.


Chickens are pretty good at fending off the cold, but the heat they dont have many mechanisms to cool down.  The comb and wattle serves to help cool the blood down by passing through the fleshy part.  Cooling the blood down cools the birds internal temperature (it shouldnt be 160 degrees internal unless they are in a roasting pan).

20110703-115615.jpgTemperatures much above 80 will likely get many chickens to start panting.  I have heard that this cools the blood through the neck but I am not sure as I havent researched that before.

Make sure they have fresh clean and cool water at all times.

Make sure there is sufficient airflow, wire floors should be clear, and deep bedding may be removed as it helps to insulate.

If temps are really high a sprinkler in the roof can help.  Double walling (2 layers of roof with an inch or two between the layers) the roof will help also.  Creating a channel for hot air to rise and pull in cooler air between the ‘airfoil’ helps keep air moving and insulates against the sun.  This doesnt work well on a flat roof but a shed roof or a roof with at least a slight angle upwards.  As heat rises it pulls in cooler air and keeps from heating up the inside of the coop quite so much.

Some like to freeze 2 liter bottle and lay them in the coop for the birds.

Feed your birds a smaller crumble instead of large pellets or whole kernel corn.  Save the whole kernel corn for the winter.  It warms thier bodies up digesting it.

Chickens that are way too hot can be taken indoors in a dog or cat crate temporarily.  Most times this isnt necessary but if they are in the sun without plenty of shade.

Let them free range and dig a depression in the cool ground.  This is one of teir favorite ways to cool down.  They will find a shady cool corner on their own the majority of times.  They scratch out a hole and lay in it.

Brooder With Chicks

Here’s some Cornish Rock crosses straight run chicks in the Brower brooder. They love to eat. And sit around. They’re fairly tame and quiet. Regular looking yellow biddies. I want to see how fast they grow.

It passed for the most part… More food freedom.

Well, it looks like much of it passed.  8 chickens is now okayed.  No roosters.  Gardens are okay, and you can sell your produce you grow now.

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