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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 7, 2010 11:36 AM. The previous post in this blog was Cha-ching! Guess who makes out when City Hall borrows big bucks.. The next post in this blog is You know who also hates Wal-Mart, besides Portland City Hall?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Monday, June 7, 2010

A matter most fowl

All of a sudden several people I know are raising chickens in their yards around Portland and vicinity. Although I enjoy getting some free eggs now and then, I could never imagine being ambitious enough to keep the birds myself. Plus, what do they eat? I almost don't want to know.

Comments (26)

I once had the extreme (dis)pleasure of touring the gigantic Foster Farms poultry raising/killing factory near Livingston, California. Let me just say that nothing goes to waste there. Nothing. NO-THING.

Enjoy those backyard-raised birds, folks.

See "The Law of Meat" from White Fang by Jack London.

OK Jack, two things here, Urban chickens are painfully easy to raise, particularly after the first two months. Dump out water tray and check food daily. Once a week 15 min to move tractor or brush out droppings.

The other issue is feeding the same type of animal its own protein. It is a common practice for slaughter plants to recycle the partially digested grain back into feed, also using tissue scrap as feed. Do a little research and you will see this is how prions are spread (mad cow disease).

My giant chickens love blood of englishman with bone meal bread.

Years ago when I lived on a farm in Sherwood, we fed the chickens all the food waste. We filled only 1/2 garbage can per week without all that chicken feed mixed in. The poultry seemed pretty content & produced lots of extra large eggs. Far more than we could eat.

Over in the SW hills, the raging coyote population will love the backyard chickens. It seems I can't go more than a couple of days without spotting a coyote up close.

I'm still curious how people can be against urban chickens when people can own loud, stinky, property destroying, and face-mauling dogs.

I understand not allowing roosters, but you don't need them anyways.

Chickens eating chicken.
Why do I find that so funny?

Then there's this.
Cow eats chicken

ws, beyond noisy roosters the other reason people will object to chickens is the smell. Now a couple chickens wont produce enough fertilizer to smell but a dozen will. If people in urban areas are kept to 4-6 hens there really wont be a smelly issue.

Jack they eat your slugs and mosquito larvae and other nasties. That's the reason i may get them. The eggs are a wonderful bonus.

No problem with limiting the numbers, I understand neighbors in urban areas should not have to deal with a chicken coop next door.

Even 6 sounds like a lot.

"A lot" depends upon how much space you have.

I have a substandard lot. I should probably limit my chickens to three or four...just for the health of the garden.

But some of us have no restraint.

Instead, I have six and will add more in the next couple of weeks. I have a permit for ten hens...The FOOLS issued me a permit for ten hens.

I see a future in 12-step programs for recovering chicken tenders.

I try not to feed chicken to my chickens, but they're great at cleaning up the old catfood at which the local fuzzwad has turned his nose up. They love cheese (cottage cheese especially) and yogurt, too. Schnubbed chow doesn't last any more around here.

Pretty soon you can divide portland into new demographics. People who commute with bicycles and have chickens and people who don't commute with bicycles and have chickens and people who don't have chickens and don't commute with bicycles and people that have goats.

Why shouldn't neighbors have to "deal with" chicken coops next door, Ws? After all, I've had to put up with garage bands and screaming kids and chain smokers. I guess that's just part of choosing to live in an urban area and not on a desert island.

Jack, a friend raises chickens, feeding them on a mix of organic feed and table scraps like grains, fruits, and vegetables. They get commercially ground egg shells as a source of calcium. The eggs are large, the yolks far more golden and flavorful than commercial eggs, and she gets to eat organic eggs for less than half the cost than if she bought them from the store.

I don't mind quiet chickens that are kept on their own property, but last week I was driving home on a nearby street (I live off Hawthorne) and nearly ran over a couple of chickens that were loose in the road. Fence them in, don't let them run loose.

...and remember, Portland doesn't allow livestock (including fowl) to be picketed within fifty feet of a residence (13.05.035). Apparently this also applies to asses. Insert joke here.

Those eggs!!! It's much like growing your own tomato and discovering what a tomato tastes like.


My reference to "chicken coop" was in general terms. If you re-read what I said, I think chickens should be allowed. I just don't think people should be operating a full-scale chicken egg farm in their backyard.

My, ws, I agree with you.

I grew up on an Oregon farm with all kinds of animals including my mom's chicken coop. Wait a little bit and these new-found urban chicken farmers will be experiencing the smells (not true that two to six doesn't cause smells), the chicken diseases like "chicken coop", critters like fleas, mites that can affect other pets, and the attraction of all kinds of bigger critters like dogs, coyotes, skunks, and hawks. I'll never forget the time my mom was knocked over by a diving hawk. The river otter was another story.

Best wishes to all the dreamy urban planners that have it all figured out.

Oh, the skunk and chicken story is even better. Ask my schoolmates who experienced my attendance for the next three days even after a vinegar bath.

Chickens will eat anything that people eat, and a lot more (though they know not to eat the poisonous yew tree berries that drop into our yard. I feed them an organic pellet from Urban Farm Store and practically all my table scraps, including egg shells, but I won't feed them chicken. It probably wouldn't hurt them, but I can't bring myself to do it.

I have four hens, but only three lay consistently. I get about 15 to 18 eggs a week, except in the dark of winter, when they sometimes shut down for a few weeks. I've done side-by-side, on-the-griddle tests of my chickens' eggs and store-bought organic eggs and my eggs have a richer yolk and taste better.

You got to keep on top of the chicken poop or you get a major fly problem. Also, if you have them in a secure run, they will decimate every last bit of plant life inside it within a few weeks. Lately, I've been letting them roam a bit more of the back yard, keeping them away from the patio and other off-limits areas via a flimsy but effective plastic poultry fence.

By the way, you should check out the "Tour de Coop" coming up next month. About 50 urban chicken keepers show off their coops and other systems for feeding, watering and sheltering the birds.

It seems like whenever I read about folks keeping chickens in urban backyards, it's always about the eggs. Does anyone here have any stories about the birds being raised for eggs, then eaten--or just being raised long enough to roast? That's what I'd like to do.


I thought "chicken feed" was a pretty generic term for something of little worth. Not that a bag of actual chicken feed won't set you back some at the local urban chicken store.

Frankly, I had enough of cleaning chicken coops and cow stalls as a kid. Not to mention cutting heads off and plucking (the chickens, not the cows). That's why I live in the city.

A few responses above.

JMatt, you want to hear a funny story? A Reedie offered a Paideia course called "Choking your Chicken" which was NOT about, well, and was about how to dress a chicken. All was going well until PETA found out and raided his coop and "liberated" his hens (which were ironically, there for laying!). But yes, some do eat, others feel guilty eating their pets and there are farms that take your non-laying hens (and roosters).

Gil, can you email me at, I have some questions. I cooked with some friends eggs at a recent gathering. OMG. Wonderful texture and flavor! I am interested to hear they may eat our table scraps.

My bike-riding eco-friendly group-house neighbors raise chickens behind their fence which is near the front of my house. No real problem with noise or smell, but it's clearly an attractive nuisance--neighborhood cats prowl around the fence regularly. And that would not be a problem except that they poop all over my front yard. Chickens are OK with me. After all, they're legal. But cats left outdoors, contrary to Multnomah County regs on the subject, are a pain. Their owners don't believe they're responsible.


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