Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Backyard Chickens (3)

The past couple of days I posted the first and second of an exclusive interview by Green Apple with Toronto Chickens regarding keeping backyard chickens. While this debate rages in communities across Canada it is important to realize that keeping egg laying chickens in your back yard makes good economical and ecological sense. Those growing their own produce do so to have fresh, organic produce right at their back door so it is only natural to extend that to being able to provide an expensive source of free eggs as part of your gardening experience. Chickens also fit nicely in with urban gardening providing you keep them out of the actual garden beds where their pecking will destroy any plants. Here are some of the benefits of keeping laying hens:

  • As pets go, laying hens are: quiet, problem free, smell free and yet give you free eggs. They don't bother neighbours unlike both cats and dogs.
  • Laying hens are a natural choice that fits well with eco-friendly living by providing food for your family in small spaces.
  • Laying hens actually become pets. They each have their own personalities so not only do you get to enjoy their eggs you get to enjoy their company.
  • Laying hens love table scraps so they are a viable option for those who do not have a large space for all their composting needs and in areas where composting is not possible. They are are great companion for composting rewarding you in nutritious eggs.
  • Each laying hen will lay one possibly two eggs daily. A family of two may only need 2 to 4 laying chickens.
  • Laying chickens have less of an environmental impact when compared to other pets and unlike other pets they do earn their keep. They are one of the best natural insect controls possible.
On the flip side there are justifiable concerns over allowing people to have laying hens in their urban backyards.
  • Noise can be a problem if the number of laying hens is greater that 4 or 5. A flock of 20 hens is going to be noticeable and it is even worse if a rooster is introduced into the picture.
  • Negligent owners is always going to be a concern. True most having backyard chickens are going to be responsible owners but that 5% that isn't is going to give the rest a bad name.
  • Other raiding animals such as raccoons and skunks are attracted to chicken coops so this can present a problem in the neighbourhood.
  • There is a concern over the spread of disease (eg. Salmonella, Avian flu) even though there is no supporting documentation regarding laying hens in an urban setting.
On thing is for sure that those controlling the egg prices in Canada are on the forefront of squashing the idea of people raising their own chickens. After all if one family can produce a couple dozen eggs per week the annual loss to the egg industry when multiplied by many families could be substantial. For those so against chickens consider cats that can be quite destructive in the neighbourhood and yet are allowed to run free. Consider dogs that cost a considerable amount of money to keep per year yet can easily take the life of a child should they turn vicious. Consider both cats and dogs spread diseases to humans and through pet dander are one of the leading causes of allergies and asthma costing hundreds of thousands of dollars annually Canada wide in medications alone to treat these conditions directly related to pet ownership. Consider too in Canada you can have pets such as python snakes that can escape their cages, slither into someone's apartment then bite them while they are working at their computer. This actually happened a few days ago in Peterborough, Ontario. Chickens on the other hand tend to be rather benign when it comes to pets.

I don't see this issue going away. People want the option to be able to put safe food on their tables and to become a bit more self sufficient. Like the speaker on Toronto Chickens many are simply going to go ahead and get their chickens then deal with the legalities if/when it becomes an problem. With the growing concerns over our food supply and wanting organic choices for our food, raising chickens is destined to become part of backyard, urban gardening.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome


  1. Anonymous1:10 PM

    Chickens only lay 1 egg/day approx 75% of the isn't possible to lay 2 eggs. It takes them 26 hours to make an egg.

  2. Thanks so much for this information. We are looking at getting laying hens so I'm just doing the research now. One video I watched said they thought some of the hens were laying 2 eggs a day.

  3. I kept chickens for years when we lived in the countryside. I agree you can't count on them laying as often as that, but the eggs you get are wonderful if they are truly free range. And I found them a great stress relief - I would stand and watch them for ages!

  4. From what I've read folks get quite attached to 'their girls' seeing more as pets. It would be nice if more communities saw it the same way.


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