Not too long ago, my brokerage posted an article about urban chickens and their effect on real estate matters – both subjects that are interest to me, since Susan and I keep a few chickens in our own yard in Reno. The article is here. The last bullet point in the article is optional, but if you’re considering raising chickens in your backyard, pay very close attention to the first 5 points the author is making – they are critical to follow if you want to have a successful career as an urban chicken fancier.
Okay, you want to take the plunge and get some backyard chickens and you live in Reno, or Sparks. Reno has some rules, but none that are unreasonable. Pay close attention to the advice about roosters – if you’re in the city you don’t want them in your flock. Nothing says “I hate my neighbors” more than having screeching roosters in your urban flock. Sure you can’t tell the sex of the bird when you get the chicks from the store, but if the bird grows up to be a rooster, find a friend in the rural areas to give it to, or enjoy a fine organic chicken dinner sourced from your own backyard. Sparks use to be a “no urban chicken” zone, but ordinance changes last year changed all that, so now a Sparks urban resident can enter the backyard chicken game.
You’ve taken a look a the basic rules and your city allows backyard chickens and now you want to take your poultry adventure. Excellent! Let’s take a look at a chicken housing solution. Susan built her coop before we met, but the roof wasn’t finished, so I added Ondura roofing later and so far it kept the hens dry through an El Nino winter and it’s standing up to chickens roosting on it with their claws and crapping all over it (I think their waste has a low Ph balance…and the roof is still okay) – that Ondura material is quite durable. The coop is portable (think about this when you go to buy yours, maybe you’ll want to take yours with you if you need to move). We purchased a prefabricated chain link 10’x10′ pen for their run – plenty of room for 3 hens. The run was surrounded with a straw cover to make the run aesthetically pleasing and to keep smaller birds out of the pen (preventing them from stealing the hen’s feed). The run was topped with a mesh net to keep crows out and to keep the hens from hopping out. Finally, the outside of the run was lined with cinder blocks and bricks – this keeps dogs and rodents from digging into the run. The entire operation is located in a low traffic area of the yard away from the house – this is good for the hens, so they don’t get too startled all of the time when people pass by the run.
And, yes, we do share our eggs with our neighbors.