The Ultimate Guide to Raising Chickens in the City

Raising chickens in the city can be challenging. With neighbors issues, predators, and the law to deal with, you NEED this post to get you started!
Source: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Chickens in the City

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Costco Chicken Coop, a Review

costco chicken coop

As a rule, I find Costco merchandise topnotch, but not this time. Costco has failed chicken keeping 101… in so many ways.

A Phoenix Costco has jumped on the urban chicken keeping bandwagon, selling this coop for $279.  That’s a lot of money for this poorly designed flimsy wood structure with cheap hardware.

Size matters in Phoenix! This coop will house 2 chickens, but it will also bake them alive in our excessive heat by dinner time.

Why it Fails my Approval

• Next boxes haven’t a lip on the edge, bedding kicked out results in broken eggs.
• All the doors are really small making access difficult.
• Roofing material is a poor choice, especially for Phoenix.
• Roost is narrow and too low.
• Hardware is cheap & used sparingly, doors will likely warp.

rooster_pecking

So back to the drawing board friends, and happy coop hunting… elsewhere.

Keeping Urban Chickens and the Law

Urban chicken keeping is quite popular, your neighbors might even have chickens and you don’t even know it! Chickens are quiet, it’s roosters that are loud and become the neighborhood nuisance. Every city has laws pertaining to keeping backyard chickens, but they are seldom if ever enforced unless there’s a complaint. So, no roosters!

There has to be laws, and be glad there are, nobody wants to have a neighbor with a gazillion birds  stinking up the neighborhood. But I can assure you there aren’t any chicken police knocking on doors of keepers having a few birds responsibly kept in a clean and secure environment.

Let’s be realistic, if you live in a suburban subdivision where the houses are only a few feet apart and you pay an HOA – keeping chickens is definitely a bad choice. Keeping chickens under the radar is also a bad idea, you could have your chickens confiscated by authorities, be fined, or both. However, if keeping chickens is allowed in your city and you have a spacious, private, and fenced back yard, a few hens won’t cause a disturbance. But, there are still rules and unwritten laws to follow.

Your hens should be completely out of sight from all neighbors and the public. That means building a privacy fence or planting bushes that add appeal to your property. It’s never a good idea to draw attention to the fact you are keeping chickens as not everybody will graciously welcome them. Many people believe they harbor disease, smell, attract flies, rodents, and the list goes on and on. You should have enough space for your hens to be confined in a fenced area attached to a coop or shelter.

My personal rule of thumb is to keep birds no less than 40 feet from your neighbors house, even if the ordinance in your city requires less.  If you can do this, there shouldn’t be a problem with neighbors unless you fail to keep them clean or confined.

Remember, the law may give you the right to keep chickens, but nuisance laws give your neighbors the same right to say you can’t. Be responsible, clean, and maintain your small flock with integrity.

Phoenix, Arizona  Ordinance Sec. 8

Top Chicken Predators in Urban Phoenix

Here in urban Phoenix there are two major enemies occupying the top spots on the list of chicken predators. The Coyote and two hawks in specific.

coyote

Coyotes aren’t usually seen during the day, sundown seems to be when they’re most active. They’re rather greedy too, seldom  stopping at one bird. It’s not uncommon for them to wipe out half the backyard flock. Not only should the chicken yard be secured with a fence buried at least a foot in the ground. Concrete around the bottom as well would be ideal.  Don’t assume that a six or seven foot block wall perimeter fence will keep out a coyote, it won’t.

If at all possible, having a raised chicken coop that can be completely closed up at night is the best way to protect your birds. The top of your chicken yard or run needs to be enclosed with aviary netting, because in-flight predators are next on the list of chicken enemies.

The Red Tail Hawk is not fussy about what time of day they snatch a chicken from the flock. These birds are very intelligent, so you’ll need to be creative if you’re going to outsmart them. They are indeed capable of carrying off an average size chicken.

Red Tailed Hawk

Below is our resident Harris Hawk, smaller, and not capable to carrying off an average sized chicken. However, be aware that these birds work as a team. Where there is one, there is usually two more. They are patient and relentless towards their goal, give them the slightest invitation and they will take it. Once they find a flock, they will circle over head, then sit on a nearby roof, or fence. This could go on for days while they intelligently calculate their plan of attack.

Harris Hawk in Phoenix, AZ

Don’t Forget this Guy…

There is at least one Bull snake slithering around our ranch. These predators are more of a problem with chicks or very young birds. Keep in mind when reaching to collect eggs that they have the same agenda! Look before you reach! They are harmless to humans, but they can be quite startling just for their size alone!

Bull Snake

Remember, respect predators for their place in society, your job is not to prove where your place is on the food chain –  it’s merely to prove you are smarter.