Archive for January, 2011

What to do with the boys? The Scoop on Roosters

So, you want eggs. You have hens. Do you need a rooster to have eggs? The answer is no.

In fact, the animal control and bird rescue folks would prefer you didn’t keep roosters.

Why? Well, we’ve been seeing a lot of homeless roosters lately, and they are very hard to place. Most people who find roosters want them to go to no-kill homes, and honestly, it’s hard to fit that bill.

If you’re an urban chicken owner, think ahead to the question of “What if I get a rooster?” Help us keep down the rooster population in urban areas:

  • Purchase sex-linked chicks. These breeds result in chicks whose coloration is slightly different, depending on gender. Only certain breed are sex-linked.
  • Purchase sexed chicks. For those non-sex-linked breeds, it is possible to sex chicks after hatching. Not all hatcheries sex chicks, so be careful.
  • Do not purchase straight-run chicks – unless you know what you are going to do with the boys. Half of them will most likely be roosters.
  • DO NOT HATCH CHICKS – unless you know what you are going to do with the boys. Fifty percent of the hatch will be male.
  • Turn them into dinner. You can take roosters to a licensed slaughtering facility. If you are amenable to this option, you can go from live bird to dressed bird for about $4.
  • If you do have a rooster, please do not release him! Find a more humane alternative. Contact local farms and rescue agencies. Check with other chicken owners to see if they would like a rooster.
  • Keep him. Roosters make a lovely, protective addition to a flock. If you can get past the crowing, the rooster will keep a protective eye on your girls. And there is no harm in eating fertilized (unincubated) eggs!

Remember, these are live creatures and should be treated as such.

Home to Roost at Whittier Elementary School, April 19-20, 2011

Home to Roost will be visiting Whittier Elementary School in Oak Park on April 19-20 for a two-day education series on food, sponsored by the Whittier Green Team.

We’ll be talking about the differences between home-raised meat and eggs and battery-cage meat and eggs, and the kids will be quizzed on what they learned!

The event is only open to Whittier Elementary School students.






Home to Roost at 29th Ward Block Club Convention, Feb. 12, 2011

Join the chickens and me (and Seamus Ford of RootRiot-Harambee Garden) at the 29th Ward Block Club Convention!

Date: Feb. 12, 2011

Time: 10 AM to 3 PM
Place: Chicago Laborers’ Training Center, 1900 N. Central (5700 W. Homer)

Showing the buff Orpington to a little guy!

The event serves as a resource and services expo for residents, groups, and block clubs. It will allow them all to become familiar with what exactly different city and state departments offer, as well as educate them on how to improve the quality of life in their homes and their neighborhoods (i.e. beautifying the blocks by planting trees and flowers; creating a garden; recycling, etc.).

Garfield Park Conservatory Chicken Talk, Jan. 26, 2011

Home to Roost will be attending this event at the Garfield Park Conservatory!

Come out to learn more about chickens!

Keeping Chickens in Chicago, Wednesday, January 26

Hours: 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Where: Jensen Room, Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60624-1996

Cost: $5 suggested donation

January is a great time to plan inspirational projects for the year – there’s no better way to turn over a new leaf than to explore the age old question of chickens, eggs, and Chicago. Curious about Chicago’s chicken codes? Wondering what kinds of chickens are the best to keep in a coop? Want to know how chickens keep warm in the winter? These questions and more will be answered at this “chicken chat,” presented by chicken keeper Jim Lichon. Please register by emailing Robin Cline at

The hens tooling around the yard