Although urban chicken coops are not in every neighborhood, they are becoming a more common sight.
It makes you think about how things will be ten years from now. Will Fido be sharing his dog house and water bowl with a small flock of hens? It really makes me wonder...
Take the Eglu, for example. Not even a decade ago, this plastic chicken coop would have been scoffed at by people who raise chickens. These days, it's a hot seller, with people willing to plunk down a hefty sum of cash to have one in their yard. Even used ones! Not too long ago, I came across an eBay auction for a pre-owned Eglu. The auction still had a couple of days left, but at the time, it had already received sixteen bids, with a current offer of $300.00!
Eglus are nifty, but they are not the only urban chicken coops available. Any kind of coop that is attractive and fits in well with your landscaping will keep your neighbors from squawking "fowl" play. While browsing the web recently, I even saw a coop disguised as a garbage can (actually, I thought it resembled a compost bin). However, the theory behind the design was that people in urban areas are so used to seeing garbage cans, they are "blind" to them. Sneaky, huh?
This brings me to my next point. Unfortunately, chickens are misunderstood by many city dwellers. They have a reputation for being smelly and noisy. As far as noise, hens are a fairly quiet bunch (much quieter than the teenage boys next door!). It's the roosters that are a problem. Hens will be more than happy laying eggs without a rooster present, so if you don't plan to breed your birds, there's really no need for cock-a-doodle-doos at four o'clock in the morning.
As far as the smell - well, you can't really blame the birds. It's the owner's responsibility to maintain their coop and run. By using a portable chicken ark or coop, many of the problems with keeping the run clean are taken care of. Of course, the coop will still need to be cleaned, but it's not too difficult, as long as you make a regular habit of it.
Getting back to the original point...
If you would love to welcome chickens into your backyard, you will first need to look into your local laws. What are the rules regarding having livestock within city limits? Many places do allow hens, but for obvious reasons, ban their noisier male counterparts. Some have restrictions on how many birds you can own, or have minimum requirements for how much land you must have in order to raise chickens.
Of course, some cities still have a strict "no chickens allowed" policy. If you live in one of the cities, realize that you can change things - it just might take a little work on your part.
Next, you will need to address the concerns of your neighbors. Educate them on the benefits of raising chickens. Show them different urban chicken coop plans and pictures, and get their feedback. Assure then that your chickens will be quiet and clean, and will not interfere with their use and enjoyment of their own property.
I'm sure I will talk about urban chicken coops more, but as I have rambled on for too long already, I will open it up to your comments...
photo credit: thomas pix