Episode 36 – Backyard Hens, Part 1

KevinBackyard Chickens, Food Politics, From the Garden12 Comments

Backyard Hens in Edmonton

Ever since my first visit to an urban backyard coop, I’ve been sold that backyard hens are a genius idea. From quality fresh egg supply to insect control, pet companionship to the ultimate supply of fertilization for the yard and garden, they make sense. Yet in many urban areas, bylaws restrict having poultry, full stop.

In an effort to bring some awareness to the issue, I’m producing a series of videos about folks with backyard coops in Edmonton, so that those who might want to give it a shot can get ideas and inspiration, and most of all so that those that oppose it can hear from those that have them – to perhaps balance their perspective a bit. I know I had a pile of questions about urban hens prior to checking out my first setup – all of which were quickly alleviated. River City Chickens has been advocating for a bylaw change for years here with no success, yet the City of Edmonton claims they want a progressive urban ag policy. Something there doesn’t add up.

The gentleman in this episode is not what you’d typically expect as the stereotypical chicken-keeper. Male, military, dog owner.

12 Comments on “Episode 36 – Backyard Hens, Part 1”

  1. A Canadian Foodie

    Would love to know how many eggs he gets a day with all those birds.
    Good for him! I cannot see the problem with the city not allowing this. Guidelines would be needed, but, come on – get with the program, City of Edmonton! This is pretty basic stuff.

  2. Bob in Edmonton

    Very interesting! More than I’d be willing to take on (although I’d happily have one in my neighbourhood)–shame the city hasn’t moved forward to legalizing these. I’d also be keen to know about production and a sense of operating costs.

  3. Sanders

    My family lives in a suburb of New York City and we’ve got 7 hens, 4 breeds. They’re all fairly cold-hearty, but I can say it’s one of the best decisions we’ve made.Yes there’s an initial upfront cost + feed, but we let our hens out of the coop and they roam around the yard eating bugs and grass. This gives their egg yolks a bright orange hue and the shells range in color from blue to spotted to light brown. Really, though, the eggs are the most delicious eggs I’ve ever had.

    With 7 hens, we gets about 4-6 eggs a day (sometimes more), and for a family of 4 growing boys and 2 parents, it’s plenty for us. Our dogs won’t touch the chickens though a couple have been caught by hawks (1 died, 1 just a few cuts). The dogs actually seem to help ward off the hawks.

    Our neighbors know we’ve got chickens but they don’t mind, and their a lot of fun to have as pets. The smell honestly isn’t too bad either as he said. Though we are lucky our town has no laws against backyard chickens.

  4. Greg deJong

    Nice setup! The more you feed them, the happier they are and the more they lay eggs, I find. Laying hens are somehow more pleasant to keep than meat chickens. Their character is different, calmer.
    Some time ago you blogged about backyard chickens and at the time I was mainly picturing meat chickens and the tricky stage of processing, tricky in an urban the-neighbours-are-watching sense, and there are a lot of bitter curmudgeons out there. But that’s a bigger issue than any bylaw seeks to remedy, in fact quite the opposite.
    No problems with keeping chickens in our small town, mind you! Even with a rooster. Just sayin’…

  5. NorthernForager

    Kevin – next time you are in Peace River we should arrange a coop tour for you! In 2010 the Town bylaw was changed to legalize the keeping of up to 6 hens. Some days it is only this bylaw that keeps us in the town and not yearning for an acerage. I have toured a number of the local coops and it is fascinating to see how unique each coop is – no two are the same, and all are incredibly creative. We have 6 heritage breed “ladies” who lay green, brown, white, large and tiny eggs. Our five year old loves gathering the eggs and we love our “productive pets”. They are a wonderful addition to any garden and add real life and real lessons to the space and to the neighbourhood.

  6. Deb Krause

    Once again, great video :)
    His coop is awesome! I wish I had chickens in the city… but I suppose it’s a welcome reprieve from the city to drive out to the farm just for eggs lol

  7. Kevin

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about folks keeping chickens, is that although it is not a zero-cost endeavour by any means, it can be done extremely frugally. I suppose a good test is to ask somebody with hens if cost is a deterrent at all. How about I do that in part 2! Thanks for all your questions and comments.

  8. Isabelle

    this is really interesting! I’d love to be in a position some day (i.e. have a backyard) where I can keep hens. thanks kevin!

  9. Sarah

    Awesome! Would love to see part #2 about the cost of raising hens. We eat a TON of eggs and definitely have the space to have a few hens in our yard. :) Thanks for these awesome posts Kevin!

  10. Amy

    I actually watched these videos backwards. I’d love to talk to this breeder about types of strong winter birds and his feeder set up looks great! We’re a military family too (in Morinville) and we’re just starting going over the bylaws to see if we’re allowed.

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