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Urban poultry

Posted: Friday, Feb 8th, 2013

Ed Close

It may not seem like it right off hand, but certain types of urban poultry are an asset to small gardens. Runner ducks, for instance, will pull small weeds during feeding that keeps the gardener from pulling weeds further along in the season. Chickens, even one or two, will supply some eggs, and they eat every bug they can find.

This coming summer, my life partner and wife, Kersten, and I are planning on getting a pair of Penciled Indian Runner ducks. These birds have some strange habits and they stand very upright and walk. They have very interesting plumage, as well, and theyíre pretty friendly.

They feed on bugs and weeds, so once the vegetables are large enough that the ducks donít make the mistake of seeing them as weeds, theyíll be allowed in the vegetable plots to eat the weeds I donít want to pull.

Itís a good idea to check with ordinances for your neighborhood before you make a lot of plans concerning this type of urban poultry farming. Itís also a good idea to limit the number of birds to what your size of yard or garden can support, and it does require fences to keep them from bothering neighbors or getting out in the street where traffic can be a danger to them.

Youíll need a hutch of some sort for them to roost in, and plans can be found in books at the library or online if youíre a do-it-yourselfer like I am. I chose the runner ducks over chickens because Kersten really likes ducks, and because I find them more interesting, but there are a wide variety of chickens or even guinea hens that do well in small gardens.

All of these birds will require some laying mash you can purchase at local outlets and feed stores. Some types of poultry require more mash than others, so do a little research before you make that purchase. They will need a protected, dry place bedded with straw or wood chips for nesting. Those items are readily available locally as well.

In any event, if you decide to try your hand at some urban poultry, watch out for predators and pets that may endanger your little flock. Enjoy the birds, as they will become curious about what youíre doing in the garden, and most become quite friendly once they get used to the idea of sharing their garden with you.

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