They’re fun, feathered, and a food source. The urban chicken keeping movement is spreading across Lexington. I recently attended the Tour de Coops to see firsthand what the excitement is all about. The need to know where food comes from is a recurring theme I found among the people on the tour. In spite of the desire to raise hens in the city, it is not uncommon to find cities across the country with ordinances that prohibit a backyard flock. Lexington is not one of them and one by one stereotypes about the practice are being cracked and coops are going up on the north side, south side, east and west and in the heart of downtown.
Jessica and Joe Moore just started raising chickens last spring. They have eleven hens in their modest, yet typical Lexington backyard. “I think people are mainly worried about the noise and smell. Our girls have a very low chatter and an occasional cackle usually after an egg has been laid, but they are not any louder than the dogs who live around us,” Moore says. Smell is not an issue if the coop is well maintained and clean. Of the seven yards I visited on the tour, not one of them smelled. I was struck by how well maintained they are. Space was another thing that really made an impression on me.
A nice chicken coop does not take up that much space.
Coops on the tour varied from up-cycled play and swing sets to modified sheds and do it yourself creations. “You don’t have to build a chicken Taj Mahal,” says Travis Robinson. Kim Glenney recommends starting out small with two or three chickens and scouting out a spot in the yard. “Pick the part of your backyard that is too shady for grass/garden and serves no purpose to you. The chickens will love it,” she says. While
Mr. Robinson agrees it’s smart to start out small, he has one piece of advice. “Build a larger coop originally, because you will catch the chicken fever!”
The Robinson family has chicken fever for sure. During the last six years their flock has multiplied to include eight hens, one young chicken and fourteen chicks. Each has it’s own personality. “Blanche, our Amberlink hen, likes to follow me around and keep me company. Cocoa Cupcake, our Americana, is constantly trying to escape and finds the smallest breaches in our pen to get out and show everyone else the way out and straight to the lettuce patch. The best is when one of the hens finds a treat of some sort and plays keep away from the others. It’s pure comedy,” Robinson said. They are entertaining and relatively easy to care for. “My eight chickens are as easy or easier to care for as a cat or dog with the same amount of cleanup,”
Glenney says. Let’s not forget the eggs. Expect dozens of farm fresh eggs right outside your back door every week. Eggs so good and plentiful you will be sharing with the neighbors which keeps them happy too.
CLUCK!Lex offers a free half hour consultation to help you get started. Additionally, they can provide advice on choosing the right breed for your needs, coop and run design and construction, and care of your flock. Once you get started there is a great network of support. For more information visit Clucklex.org