Urban Chickens as Pets and Dinner
February 2, 2011 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Guest post contributed by Miki Wright, Lexington, Kentucky urban chicken herder and urban gardener.
“Our girls” were delivered from McMurrays as a box of 27 day old peeping fluff-balls, and we fell in love. We fed them and washed their “poopy” bottoms, and made sure they had everything they needed to be comfortable and happy!
We kept 14 of the 27 that were shipped. The rest were sold or given to new homes. Soon, they had feathers and were taking test flights in their pen in the back room of our house. We named them for celebrities they “resembled”. The tall platinum blonde Polish was Uma (Thurman). Two black and gold Polish were Tina (Turner) and Joan (Jett). Bette (Middler) is a busty, strawberry blonde Cochin who was our first hen to lay a small brown egg right on the ground in the garden.
We had ordered all hens, but got a few unexpected roosters. We gave some away, sold some, and had a couple that no one wanted. Since roosters are illegal here in town, we had a problem. We finally had to dispatch the two we couldn’t find homes for. We eat chicken, so on a certain level, we were OK with that. But I still have those two in the freezer. I find it is very hard to eat a chicken once you have bonded!
Our urban chicken-keeper group (CLUCK!) has coined the term, petstock for the chickens we keep. They are charming pets that provide us with fabulous eggs, and sometimes with a chicken dinner. It sounds heartless, but we all have these birds for food. It is important to keep that in mind when you are raising chickens because they don’t lay eggs forever, and there are a limited number you can keep in an urban garden.
Miki Wright owns Egg Design, a graphic design firm in Lexington KY. She is also an artist, an urban chicken herder and an urban gardener. Her downtown “farm” is in Lexington’s first historic district, Elsmere Park. She shares a 107 year old house with Tom Ricci, a custom cabinet-maker and urban farmer par excellence. They are both members of CLUCK!, “Coop”erative of Lexington Urban Chicken Keepers. Miki can be found chirping on Twitter @farminthehood.