The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

August 20, 2013

Backyard chickens? A hard-boiled assessment

“Eat local” is the foodie mantra, and nothing is more local than an egg from your own backyard.

That enticement has led many city dwellers and suburbanites to consider putting up a coop and keeping chickens. The online community BackYardChickens.com, for example, has more than 200,000 members, about half of whom have joined in the last two years.

But what’s the cost in time and money — and what will the neighbors think?

Sandy Schmidt of Silver Spring, Md., compares the time required for basic chicken care to that for a more familiar pet: “It’s about like having a cat,” she says. “Make sure they have food and water every day, scoop out the coop — like a litter box — and let them out of the coop.”

One big difference, though, is that your neighbors may never even see your cat, while many people worry about the smell and noise of chickens.

Rob Ludlow of BackyardChickens.com thinks these concerns aren’t usually relevant to the small size of the average backyard flock. After all, he says, “What if everyone thought owning a dog in your backyard would smell and sound like a dog kennel?”

Still, neither dogs nor chickens are silent, so consideration is important. Roosters make most of the noise and aren’t legal in most places, so be aware that if you decide to start with chicks, the sexes can’t always be distinguished at birth. You can avoid this problem by getting adult hens, or make sure you get a breed where the sex differences are obvious.

“There are about four or five breeds out of two or three hundred that can be sexed at birth, just by looking at the color,” says Tyler Phillips of Rent A Coop in Potomac, Md.

Even hens, however, can turn out to be more talkative than expected, as Lisa Sandbank of Santa Monica, Calif., found out.

Text Only
Food & Health
  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • 4-15-14 Asparagus photo Make asparagus the center of your plate Asparagus has been a delicious symbol of spring since at least as far back as the Greeks, who called it asparagos -- literally, "to spring up." But however it is spelled, it makes me happy. Most grocers sell asparagus in a range of sizes, from thin a

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Floating stools not alarming DEAR DR. ROACH: I have read that whether stools float or sink could be an indication of one's health, even to the point of being an early sign of pancreatic cancer. Isn't it just about density and gas -- that is, doesn't most food we eat float in wat

    April 15, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

  • 4 years after spill, questions on long-term health

    When a BP oil well began gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, fisherman George Barisich used his boat to help clean up the millions of gallons that spewed in what would become the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

    Like so many Gulf Coast residents who pitched in after the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, Barisich was motivated by a desire to help and a need to make money — the oil had destroyed his livelihood.

    April 11, 2014

  • Clearing up protein numbers DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a healthy 57-year-old woman, relatively fit and active. Ten years ago, during a routine wellness exam, my bloodwork indicated an elevated CRP of 10. In the next decade, it has gradually increased and seems to dance around 15 or 1

    April 11, 2014

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 10, 2014

  • Dieters move past calories, food makers follow

    Obsessing over calories alone has left dieters with an empty feeling.

    The calorie counting that defined dieting for so long is giving way to other considerations, like the promise of more fiber or natural ingredients. That is chipping away at the popularity of products like Diet Coke, Lean Cuisine and Special K, which became weight-watching staples primarily by stripping calories from people's favorite foods.

    April 10, 2014

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

  • Is a paleo vegetarian diet possible?

    Research shows most people can follow a regimented eating plan for a short time. That's not the challenge. The challenge is finding a healthful eating plan you can follow day after day and achieve your long-term health goals. At this point, it doesn't appear that the paleo eating plan meets these objectives for most people.

    April 9, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.