Auburn News

Urban chickens: the next big thing

Chickens have flown the coop and landed in some unexpected places, including my hometown of Mobile, Ala.

That’s right. Chickens are the new fad in downtown and midtown Mobile. For those of you not familiar with this city, it’s the third largest metropolitan area in Alabama. It’s well-known for being down by the bay and the birthplace of Mardi Gras. In the downtown/midtown sector where I’m from, the streets are old and narrow. There’s lots of one-ways and traffic jams. It’s hard enough to have an ordinary pet like a dog or a cat without worrying about it getting hit by a car or getting loose in the neighborhood, but adding a brood of hens to the mix just sounds crazy.

Yet, people are doing it, and they’re loving these new additions to the family.

My family and I incubated our first round of fertilized chicken eggs when I was in the fifth grade. Out of that group, we were only able to keep one; and she became more of a pet than anything. She went to the beach with us on family vacations and stood with my family and our neighbors as we cheered on the Azalea Trail Run participants as they dashed past my street on their way to the finish line. If you think seeing a woman carry a dog around in her purse is odd, can you imagine what people thought of my mother walking around with a Rhode Island red in her arms?

However, chickens do not have long life expectancies, and after Babs left us we waited a while before opening our hearts to another hen. My father’s only rule was that my mother had to get more than one, and that they could not become domesticated house pets. So, now my parents have seven chickens of all different breeds laying anywhere between five and seven eggs per day.

Besides my parents never having to buy a carton of eggs again, these lovely ladies also do a good job of keeping pesky bugs out of our backyard and turn the soil as they scratch around.

My parents aren’t the only ones to take in a brood. My neighbors have too, and so have the Mobilians that are members of the Backyard Chicken Club, which is a community club in Mobile where people get together to discuss all things chicken.

The bottom line is maybe my mother was onto something back in 2005. I like to say that she started this fad and is the original chicken lady, but what’s important is that more and more people are raising chickens to meet their own socioeconomic needs; and that’s just cool.