The Waterloo Hen Association hosted a coop tour to show what life with urban chickens is really like. Waterloo has not yet legalized chicken keeping. In a compromise last year, they grandfathered the right to have chickens to existing coops but put off further debate about creating a bylaw until next year when a new City Council has been elected.
It is hoped that events like this will help remove some misconceptions people have about chicken-keeping. It’s a big commitment and requires daily upkeep and care (much like my rabbit and guinea pigs), but it certainly integrates well with a return to urban food growing (chickens eat food scraps, their poop becomes rich compost for the garden, and fresh eggs are delightful if you’re an egg-eating kinda person…).
We’ve lived with neighboring chickens for a long time and have absolutely no problems with it. In fact, they’re a wonderful source of entertainment and much quieter than the song birds!
What impressed me most on the tour was the children who help care for the chickens. They were each so articulate and connected to the lives and needs of the hens. Any time kids feel connected to the circle of life, through animal care or gardening, I think it benefits us all.
Here’s a few photos. It was busy so I only took a few but you can see the various types of hen houses. Some were really nicely built:
This one is a mobile chicken tractor. It stays in the garden during the warm months and can be place on the deck by the house in the winter for easy access for feeding and collecting eggs:
This coop was built right against the house with access to a fenced scratching area:
This little coop is off the ground with a long outdoor area as well:
I thought this one was pretty stylish:
Every one’s hens do fine in the Canadian winter. Some coops are insulated, others have a small source of heat like a water bed heater mounted on the inside wall or a 100 watt light bulb.
It was funny how some people had named all their hens and knew their personalities quite intricately and others didn’t really regard them as pets that way. But everyone clearly loved having chickens and found their neighbors were either supportive or had never noticed the hens at all.
We saw brown, blue, and white eggs of all sizes. One hen had taken two days to lay a recent egg and it was humongous!
I hope some hen skeptics came along on the tour and saw that these animals are excellent city pets.