As we hear more and more about community gardens and balcony gardens, we shouldn’t forget the other great options available to us in an urban environment. Julia Gove, part of our team here at YFM, relays her experience of keeping laying hens in Sydney’s inner west…
“I live in an Erskineville sharehouse with three others but the occupants in the backyard pull as much weight as those on the lease. Sydney’s inner-west isn’t the most obvious location to house chickens, but they are a cheap, space-efficient and sustainable solution to urban living. Backyard chickens play an important role in recycling food, fertilising the garden and cutting down on food waste that goes to landfill.”
According to lovefoodhatewaste householders in NSW throw away more than 800,000 tonnes of food every year. That means one third of the average household garbage bin is filled with wasted food which end up in landfill. Eating as much of our food as possible is priority numero uno (here are our top tips for that!), but for any scraps we can’t eat, chickens are the ultimate food composters. Our chooks effortlessly turn our kitchen’s vegie peels, forgotten food and dinner disasters into nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus rich soil ready for the vegie garden. They may form a taste for your habits (ours are passionate about cheese), but they’ll never turn down a wilted salad, stale bread crust or sticky glob of rice.
The homely aspect of an added couple of housemates in a backyard pen isn’t to be scratched at. In our house, the daily eggs sit on display in egg cups on the kitchen bench as trophies. This morning, my house mate and I enjoyed the rewards of freshly laid backyard eggs. Nothing from the supermarket comes close to the flavour of a freshly-laid, still-warm egg. On top of the richer flavour, they are lighter, with brighter, larger yolks. And forget food miles, these eggs have travelled about six steps from hen to pan.
There are very few homes that wouldn’t benefit from a chook. You don’t need a lot of room to keep chickens, and you don’t need to invest much to get started either. You can even try before you buy with Rent-A-Chook.”