Poultry FAQ

Q: Can I have chickens in the city?
A: It varies according to local ordinances, but for most towns in Clark County and the Portland area, the
answer is YES.  Roosters often are not allowed because of the noise they make, and some towns have
limits on the number of chickens you can keep.  Be sure to check your local codes.

Q: Do I need a rooster for my hens to lay eggs?
A: No, hens will lay just fine with no rooster around.  A rooster is only needed if you want fertile eggs.

Q: Can I feed kitchen scraps to my chickens?
A: Absolutely!  Chickens love scraps.  Bread crusts, apple cores, potato peelings, soggy cereal, egg
shells, leftovers that are past their prime - they'll eat it all.  Some sources recommend avoiding moldy
or spoiled food, but we've never observed any problem at all when feeding fuzzy green stuff from the
fridge to the chickens.  Uncooked beans should be avoided, however, as they contain a substance
that's toxic to chickens.  Cooked beans are fine.

Q: What is grit for, and do I need to provide it for my chickens?
A: Since chickens don't have teeth, they swallow grit - sand or rough chips of stone - and store it in an
organ in their throats called the crop to help grind their food.  Layer rations contain some grit, and
chickens that have access to the ground outside the coop will pick up grit there.  You can provide extra
grit if you like.

Q: My chickens are laying eggs with soft or deformed shells. What's wrong?
A: Eggs with soft or misshapen shells, or even with no shells at all, are a sign of a calcium deficiency.  
Layer feeds usually contain enough calcium, but if you see any of these problems, it's a good idea to
give your hens some oyster shell.  You can feed it separately from a bowl or mix it with the regular
feed.  Egg shells are another good source of calcium.

Q: When will my chickens start laying and how long will they be productive?
A: Chickens usually start to lay eggs at about five to six months old.  They may continue laying for
years, but production usually drops off significantly after two or three years.

Q: Can I put different breeds together in the same pen?
A: Yes.  Some breeds tend to be more high-strung than others, but chickens generally couldn't care
less what breed or color another chicken is.  They'll generally get along well with ducks, turkeys, and
other poultry, too.

Q: Are brown eggs healthier and/or better quality than white ones?
A: Shell color, in and of itself, has nothing to do with nutritional value, flavor, or other quality of the
egg.  There may be a correlation, though.  Eggs from home grown birds may indeed be of better
quality (and certainly fresher) than commercially produced ones, and coincidentally most breeds raised
in back yards and small farms are brown egg layers.