Hi & welcomeHey guys, I'm new. Here in Canada, "Urban Chickens" are becoming quite popular. A lot of people are enjoying the home kill concept here. They know what is going in their food, how it was processed, but cost varies. A rotisserie chicken is 5.99 at most supermarkets, and people would be hard pressed to raise a chick for that. Anyone from urban areas in other parts have experience raising chickens in town? Is it worth the cost? Can you get that cost down? Do neighbours care?
Cities have amended bylaws to be able to allow homes to have a variety of numbers. Its up to a city to make that kind of law up here so there is no real commonality.
Urban Hen Keeping Procedures and Guidelines | City of Edmonton - The capital city of Edmonton allowing multiple hens on a property. This made for some hot topics at council chambers a few years ago. Some pople loved the idea, others hated the idea of smell and noise.
Fun Fact - In Vermilion, AB you can have "Racing Pigeons" but no chickens. Pigeon racing sounds delightful!
https://www.vermilion.ca/en/your-government/resources/Bylaws2015/BYLAW17.15.pdf (Down the page to 5.2.10)
The first and foremost question is why do you want to raise them yourself?
If it is to save money, forget it. You won't. Even for eggs, the last thing you do is save money.
If it is for better tasting chicken, for birds you know the life of, know what they've been fed, know that they've had a chance at life before being slaughtered, to avoid the antibiotics they are routinely fed and so on, then it could be worth your while.
You need to address many issues first. And whilst your neighbors are at the top of the list, the biggest issue especially in cities is their security, and not just from predators that are 4 legged, but from the 2 legged variety as well.
Meat birds are not the same as layers. Meat birds need to grow fast and put weight on quickly. They are typically slaughtered very young irrespective of sex. Most people don't like the idea of eating roosters because apparently once the bird is sexually mature it can taint flavour of the meat (apparently). Roosters are typically sexually mature between 12-20 weeks old but I've had chicks you have been enough to be trying to mate and already crowing at 8 weeks. Supermarket chickens are typically 8-10 weeks old when slaughtered by the way. Home grown don't typically grow as fast but are generally pretty young as well. They are also going to be smaller birds and you do need to be purchasing broilers, not layers or dual purpose birds if you're looking to feed more than 2 people from a bird. Broilers grow faster, but this means they eat more as well. What you feed them, controls the flavour. And forget romantic ideas of free range unless you seriously have plenty of space. A lot of feed has added 'extras' that maybe what you're trying to avoid with supermarket chicken (antibiotics being one). Going organic on their feed adds to the cost. Chooks also need worming and treating for fleas periodically no matter how young they are slaughtered. This is no different from any other pet or farm animals. Their health is still important and if you treat for worms, you are not meant to eat their eggs or flesh for 2 weeks. We usually leave it 3 days to be honest and we've not seen any issues with that.
What else. Predators are actually going to be your biggest loss. You can't just put a shed down and expect to put bird in it. You'll need a concrete base to prevent predators from digging their way in at night. The same with fences, they need to be very high to prevent predators such as foxes scaling them (so 8 foot or higher, foxes are expert climbers). You'll also need to consider birds of prey. Here I just accept it, my chooks have a good warning system from natural wildlife and wild birds, but they are experienced free range birds. I haven't lost any to foxes recently but typically you can expect to loose most birds in any single attack and foxes will return to the scene night after night until all birds are dead. And there is very little you can do about day time attacks unless you are building a fully enclosed roost and run for them. If they are free range, you'll need to accept daytime attacks are going to happen. Neighbours' dogs will also be a big problem. In our local town (I'm a good distance from it thankfully) half of all daytime attacks are from a stray it neighbours dog getting in and just killing anything it can get to. They kill add many as possible before eating, so again it will seem like senseless killing rather than purposeful attacks, same with foxes. I gather raccoons can be a problem as well. Here quolls and iguana can be issues (Australia). Snakes can also take out birds as well.
You'll also need to deal with rodents. With food out all the time, rodents can be a problem and so can native birds. It's a free food source, plus wild birds also bring in diseases.
I would recommend that you make sure you are vaccinated against pneumonia as well. Wild birds carry (and have) and particular strain of pneumonia that can easily be transmitted to your birds and on to you. You'll not have any natural immunity to it because it is not one of the normal pneumonia strains.
What else. Eggs. All of them lay eggs. Layers are typically lean birds that put all of their energy into laying eggs. Dual purpose birds are typically larger birds that lay fewer eggs than layers but more than broilers (meat birds). Some of my dual purpose birds weigh in around 4kg but they are several years old now (4 years I think, just starting their 5th season). Believe it or not, that is actually quite small and you'll not get much meat off her once cleaned and gutted. Yes you'll get some meat but probably not much more than 1-2kg if you are lucky. We had to euthanize one of them just before Christmas and I was able to have a really good look at her.
Broilers don't typically live long enough to lady eggs. Usually once they reach a set age, the cost of feed and all the other costs, to the amount of meat obtained starts to rise considerably. And simply from an economic point of view, why feed an adult bird who isn't going to grow that much more. It's simply putting money into something that's not going to sell for anything extra? Humans are cruel from that point of view. (I'll add that this isn't my approach. My girls can and have retired, some are rescues from breeders who were going to slaughter them because they could no longer breed from them. My eldest is in her 9th season. She could live another 3 years yet. She's valuable to me as the flock leader. She's very smart and looks after the flock. But that's not why I keep her alive. She's alive because she's healthy and, well living. She doesn't lay at all anymore. Hasn't for 3 years. )
There are online courses that are a really good introduction to chickens. I think it was the University of Edinburgh that does the one I did (whilst in Australia). (Yep, here's the link. It's a free course and will make you much more aware of what's needed Chicken Behaviour and Welfare)
If you are going for eggs as well as meat, you're best option will be 2 run 2 flocks separately. Broilers have different feed and needs to layers and as mentioned above, are typically killed before they start to lay. Eggs are you best way of dealing with neighbours in the form of free eggs from time to time. You'll also need to look into city legislation carefully. It varies considerably, but a lot of cities do not permit roosters, so you'll need to be able to sex your chickens and kill the males first before they start to crow. (You don't need males to get eggs, only to actually get fertile eggs). Some countries (the UK for example) do not permit you to feed kitchen scraps to chickens and at present large numbers of domestic chickens are being slaughtered yet again in the UK because of the sharp increase in bird flu. So you'll need to think about that as well.
Finally, smell. If you look after them correctly, clean them out regularly etc, they won't smell anymore than having a dog in the backyard would.
Oh, and unless you buy things like automated doors (we have 3 between 2 seperate flocks) , you'll need to be home every morning and night you let them in and out of their secure roost. And leaving them locked in, isn't an option, so you'll need to consider how you're going to go away even overnight.
Yell if you have anymore questions.