The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

September 26, 2012

BICKER: There are many good reasons to raise chickens

CLINTON — The popularity of chickens never ceases to amaze me. They seem to be the “in” accessory just like a cute purse.

Urban chicken farmers have become a new and fascinating craze that has spread across the country.

For me, raising chickens was something I always wanted to do because my grandmother raised them.

However, in recent years, people have become more health conscious and knowing where their food comes from has become a high priority. I think that is why farmers’ markets have become so popular.

Raising chickens is not rocket science and its doable right in your own backyard. It’s possible to raise a few hens and have farm-fresh eggs when you walk out your backdoor.

When it comes to raising livestock, I think chickens are about the easiest when it comes down to cost and management. For example, I can purchase 1-day-old baby chicks, all females, from my friends at the Murray McMurray Hatchery for $2.23 a piece if I get between 25 to 49.

Obviously, the price varies from breed to breed but compared to other livestock they’re pretty cheap.

I recently watched a program on Iowa Public Television, “Growing a Greener World: Backyard Chickens.” This program was very informative. The host not only emphasized their ability to provide good food, but entertainment as well. They can definitely become family pets and tried-and-true companions who will follow you around all day long.

I have come to the conclusion that my hens are more like dogs than chickens. When I stand outside the coop, clap my hands and yell, “Come on out girls,” my hens literally can’t get to me fast enough.

This summer I taught them a trick. And let me tell you, they were a lot easier to train than my dog who thinks tricks are a waste of time.

My dad built some ledges out in their pen for roosting during the day. I managed to train my girls to jump up on the roosts by snapping my fingers and giving them a reward — grass.

Now, every time they see me, everyone is clamoring and fighting each other to get their prime spot on the roost so they can get some grass. Some have become pretty clever and are jumping from roost to roost.

When I explain this to people, they don’t believe me. I guess you have to see it to believe it.

When it comes to cost, chicken coops can be constructed for a reasonable amount with scraps that can be found around the house. This program did a good job of demonstrating how to build a critter-proof coop for a couple hens for around $200. Obviously, the price goes up with a bigger brood. Coops can be pretty basic or very fancy depending on your taste.

My coop is probably a bit swankier than most with insulation and electricity. My hens also have the luxury of listening to a radio all day and all night, which helps keep critters away and helps me sleep better at night.

They also have heat lamps in the wintertime so their feet won’t get frostbite. I also enjoy the heat lamp because it warms me up too.

City officials in Camanche recently passed an ordinance allowing residents to raise no more than six hens in their backyard.

I give them two thumbs up on this move. I think more towns should offer this to residents.

In a society where obesity has taken center stage, raising chickens definitely promotes a healthier lifestyle.

They provide happiness, good food and fertilizer for your garden. What could be better?

Angie Bicker has been employed with the Clinton Herald since 2001. She can be reached at angiebicker@clintonherald.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Stand up against child abuse April is National Child Abuse Month and I would like to take a moment to share that our children are precious and Clinton County has one of the highest in the state when it comes to children who have been abused. You are able to check the statistics

    April 19, 2014

  • Bills to move quickly in final days Tuesday marks the 100th and last day of this scheduled session. After Tuesday, clerks will be sent home and legislators driving and living expenses will no longer be paid by the state. That usually means remaining legislation and Fiscal Year 2015 bu

    April 19, 2014

  • Reducing money's influence in politics The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald There's no doubt that money influences politics -- in big ways. Big money influences politics in even bigger ways, sometimes leading to corruption. That's why there are federal caps on the amount of money someone c

    April 19, 2014

  • Looking for love in all the wrong places This classic Dear Margo column was published in April 2008. DEAR MARGO: I'm 30 years old and have been married to an incredible, loving, caring man for 10 years. We have a beautiful family and we adore our children. Our sex life was pretty boring at

    April 19, 2014

  • Letter to the Editor: Local firefighters' union speaks out on proposed contract

    Dear citizens/taxpayers of Clinton:
    The members of Local 609 feel that it is our duty to inform the citizens of Clinton that the article titled “‘Fair offer’ differences” in the April 9, 2014 edition of the Clinton Herald was full of inaccurate statements regarding our negotiated contract proposal with the city. These incorrect statements could impact the use of your city funds negatively and unduly influence our elected representatives. So, we would like to address these points, as follows:

    April 18, 2014

  • Local firefighters' union speaks out on proposed contract Dear citizens/taxpayers of Clinton: The members of Local 609 feel that it is our duty to inform the citizens of Clinton that the article titled "'Fair offer' differences" in the April 9, 2014 edition of the Clinton Herald was full of inaccurate state

    April 18, 2014

  • The lesson of 'Camp David' The line between determination and delusion can be obscure. Sometimes, the distinction emerges only in retrospect, like a Polaroid image slowly appearing. In other instances, the difference between productive grit and self-defeating obsession is an a

    April 18, 2014

  • Wild Rose avoids another distraction Several casino operators in the state of Iowa breathed a sigh of relief Thursday when the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission voted 4-1 to reject a casino in Cedar Rapids. Cedar Rapids is close enough to have a possible effect on Wild Rose Casino and R

    April 18, 2014

  • Youngquist photo World Book Night celebrated April 23 The Clinton Public Library children's department plans to start a Legos club this June. We would appreciate donations of new or used Legos bricks. Please, no Duplo bricks. Drop donations at the children's desk on the second floor of the library. Root

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Walter Williams mug Equality in discipline George Leef, director of research for the North Carolina-based John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, authored a Forbes op-ed article titled "Obama Administration Takes Groupthink To Absurd Lengths." The subtitle is "School Discipline

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook