What is the best way to get the freshest, organic eggs possible? Get a pet chicken. It’s true and the trend is gaining popularity so I thought I would check into the details. According to the city of Mountain View, residents can have up to 4 hens. Roosters are not allowed. I met with Amberlin Wu this week because I had heard that she was our local chicken-expert. Although she denies being an expert, she certainly seemed to know all about urban chickens. Amberlin purchases fertile eggs and has them shipped to her home in Mountain View where she lovingly incubates them for 21 days until they hatch. Then she spends weeks socializing the birds. I’ve never seen such friendly chickens in my whole life and I grew-up on a ranch. These birds came right up to me in her backyard. They’re definitely considered pets. They have names and some of them come when they hear their name called.
You’ll need a predator-proof coop for your bird and the chicken will need to be put inside the coop each evening at sundown. Amberlin lets her hens wander around her backyard during the day. She keeps the baby chicks inside most of the time until they are 4-6 weeks old and ready to be adopted. This Friday Amberlin has about 15-20 eggs that are scheduled to hatch so baby chicks will be available in the near future.
Her hens were very quiet and I doubt that her neighbors even know that they exist. And the yard was clean and didn’t smell like chickens at all. The chickens improve the quality of the soil, keep the bugs down, and require very little care. They don’t try to get out of the yard or get-away from the property. These particular birds are very socialized and want to be with you. Marmalade, the reddish chicken in the photo, has been known to try to sneak in the house when the backdoor is open a crack… clever little chicken.
Here’s a link to Amberlin’s blog, HomeSchooledChickens, and on her blog she tells where to purchase chicks (other than from her), the names of local feed stores and other chicken related websites.
Chickens would be a great school project. Some local schools hatch the eggs but then don’t keep the baby chickens after they have hatched. Maybe having a small coop at school would be a nice way for a group of children to work together and learn about raising animals, getting organic eggs, fertilizing a garden and the responsibility of being a pet owner. Owning an urban chicken is a wonderful way to get the freshest eggs in the world and Mountain View is one of the Bay Area cities that makes it possible.