The saying goes you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket but the City of Austin says you can and, they will even help you pay for it if you want them in your backyard.
The city announced Thursday they are offering a $75 rebate on a chicken coop for residents who want to raise chickens. This is part of their home composting rebate program, so for those who have used their home composting rebate already with the city they are not eligible. You also have to be paying the clean community fee on your bill.
So what else do you have to do to qualify? You must attend one of these free chicken keeping classes.
Rob Cunningham is the owner of the Coyote Creek Farm in Elgin. They supply feed, raise chickens and provide farm fresh eggs to local stores. He said he fully supports people raising their own chickens. “When you weigh the fact that somebody is raising their own food which is why we founded our farm as healthy and sustainable, then the more the merrier.” He does want those who are thinking about becoming urban farmers to know there is a learning curve and it's not easy but it's doable.
There are some issues one may think of with chickens. Neighbors and noise being on the forefront,”Most neighborhood backyard producers have hens and hens don't crow like roosters do, so the noise is usually not a problem.” Are they dirty? Cunningham said no, “Chickens don't make a big mess; they have a fairly low footprint in a backyard.” As for drawing in other animals such as raccoons, rat snakes, and coyotes, “Those things are already in the neighborhood, so having chickens in your neighborhood doesn't bring them in, but those predators will find your chicken coop.” That's why the coop, which is what the rebate is for, is the most important tool. “You just need a safe place to put them at night. If they are nice and secure at night then you don't have to worry about predators,” Cunningham said.
Callahan's in Austin said they are ready for all those wanting to venture into chicken raising. Charley Wilson is the President & CEO, “Everything from bedding to feed, feed for babies, feed for hen laying eggs, feed for adults to the coops, everything across the board that you can imagine about raising chickens is available. Wilson is also in support of backyard chicken raising and thinks it's great for the community to rally around taking agriculture inside the city. “This is a great thing and it's part of what makes Austin what it is and the fabric of Austin,” he said.