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Cracking the mysteries of chickens

February 21, 2016 1:00 A.M.
Learning about eggs from the inside out.

“Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

The question was inevitable at a seminar Saturday at Purity Feed about raising chickens. Some of the 70 in attendance were old country hands at it; others were there in hopes Kamloops City council will reverse its previous opposition to urban back yard chickens.

Paul Goertzen, a poultry nutritionist, led them through a few basics on successful chicken farming.

He said there are five rules for raising chickens: protect them from predators and pests, give them shelter and clean bedding, give them 16 hours of light each day if you want them to keep laying, take the eggs away every day, and give them the nutrition they need to be healthy.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness when it comes to raising chickens.  Without it, chickens can be the cause of disease, either as carriers — as in the case of salmonella — or they can become sick themselves, as in the case of avian flu.

“The most important thing to remember, chickens belong outside and people belong inside,” Goertzen said, meaning a clear line has to be drawn by practicing good habits in cleaning up after being around chickens.

“Why would you want chicken shit in your house?” he asked.

He provided tips on everything from controlling mites to avoiding fishy tasting eggs to cleaning products and how chickens see. Despite the need for good habits around chickens, they’re worth the effort he said, noting that a cow would have to produce 500 kg. of milk every day to equal the amount of protein created by a chicken.

“We don’t create nutrition, we just convert it,” he said.

Members of the audience were each given an egg to crack as Goertzen explained the various parts of it and their functions, likening an egg to a womb.

And the question about which came first? Definitely the chicken, he said.

The back-yard chicken issue is expected to be up for debate by City council again soon. On several previous occasions, the council has refused to allow backyard chicken raising in the city even though many other Canadian cities have approved it.

Coun. Dieter Dudy and Coun. Tina Lange attended the session. Dudy said it will likely be a close vote.

Jody Spark says:
February 25, 2016 08:16am

Economical production of protein is difficult and one of the biggest challenges in food security. Eggs are not only nutritious, but economical to produce. Encouraging them in an urban environment is imperative.

Globalism has made food more readily available, but unfortunately increased our dependence on imported food. Changing weather and vulnerable distribution systems mean we must reduce our dependence on food from outside our local area. A responsible city council should be intensely focused on food security for its citizens, and that focus needs to go beyond community gardens. Urbanites need nutritious and readily available protein produced within city, and eggs fit the bill.

There are numerous examples of urban centres that have successfully permitted backyard hens. The problems associated with keeping hens in an urban environment are manageable, and the benefits are many.

Permitting and regulating backyard chickens is wise and forward-thinking.

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Stewart Duncan says:
February 21, 2016 11:56am

Given that dog owners as a whole can't consistently clean up after their dogs, and cat owners don't even try, I find it implausible that urban chicken owners will consistently keep their birds and areas as clean as necessary.

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