livestock is not for the weak at heart, however animal husbandry
does have many gratifying moments and can be extremely rewarding
and enjoyable. Like any pet, it is always best to consider
their unique needs prior to making a commitment to bring them
As with all trends, the "grow it yourself" or being
a locavore, has many benefits when it comes to keeping your
own urban livestock. Many cities, (including Seattle) have
allowed urban livestock such as chickens, bees, and miniature
Cuteness’ — Baby chicks at Swansons
Special thanks to Seattle Tilth for letting Swansons reprint
this information. Swansons has chickens for display and educational
purposes only. We do not sell chickens or their supplies.
about City Chickens
are questions frequently asked on the subject of chickens to
help you evaluate if chickens are a good fit for your family.
depends. As with any animal (and people), chickens can be "dirty" if
they are not properly cared for. A chicken that is properly
cared for is just as clean as a properly cared for dog, or
Are roosters the noisy ones, or are hens noisy too?
Roosters are noisy. Hens are much less so. A hen will cackle
at times during the day, and will occasionally (especially
when disturbed by an unfamiliar person or animal) squawk, but
she will be quiet most of the time. She will be completely
silent when it is dark, as she will be sleeping. Many hens
will cackle while they are laying their eggs, but these, and
most other sounds, are not very loud, and are certainly quieter
than most everything else that occurs in the surrounding neighborhood.
The only time where such sounds may be unpleasant is in the
early morning, at times when neighbors may want to sleep late.
To counteract this, many chicken owners will keep the coops
dark on those days until later in the morning, or ply neighbors
with fresh eggs.
How many eggs does one hen lay per day? Or per week?
answer will vary depending on 1) The time of year, 2) The breed
of the hen, 3) The diet of the hen, 4) The age of the hen,
and 5) Other husbandry practices. Most of the standard breeds
of chickens that have been selected through the years for egg
production will lay between 180 - 320 eggs per year for their
first year of laying. On one extreme, there are records of
hens averaging an egg a day for over a year. The rate of laying
tapers in the second year and beyond, until it may only take
place during the spring. Some of the breeds that haven't been
selected for egg production (selected for show, or other qualities,
instead) may only lay eggs in the spring and early summer.
Appropriate feed mixtures also stimulate egg production.
you have more than one hen? Yes. Chickens have a strong
Do you have to have a rooster for a hen to lay eggs?
No. Without a rooster, hens will still lay eggs. There are
no roosters to be found at all the mega-farms, where most eggs
come from. If you don't have a rooster, the eggs can't be fertile,
and won't hatch. However, this is not the goal of most chicken
owners. And, non-fertile eggs are (arguably) just as nutritious
and tasty as fertile eggs.
Can they run around your yard? Do you need to keep them fenced
They can run around your yard, but care must be taken to protect
them from predators. Therefore, they should be securely fenced
in most of the time, especially during non-daylight hours.
If they are not fenced in during the day, they may wander too
far and leave the property, inviting attacks from dogs and
long do they lay eggs before they become non-laying hens?
As mentioned above, productivity diminishes after the nrst
year. It is still good the second year, but then declines rapidly.
At about three or four years, production is not very efficient.
Most commercial and farm hens are culled after their second
season of laying.
Can you bring chickens into your house?
Yes, if you want. They are harder to "potty train" than
most animals, though. They defecate more often than mammals.
However, some people do keep their "pet" chickens
in their house.
more information check out these resources:
Resource list. (download PDF file)
City Code for animals (download PDF file)
Tilth offers seminars on chickens, goats and organic
garden throughout the year.
Contact Seattle Tilth directly at (206) 633-0451 to
inquire of further information and register for classes. Click here to Learn all about raising chickens, goats and bees at Seattle Tilth
schedule times vary seasonally.