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Benefits of Henhouses

Raising chickens are not just for farms anymore! Urban henhouses are becoming more popular.

"I wanted to lighten my carbon footprint -- that's kind of what it was about initially," said Jeff Shell who raises chickens in his backyard. "Everything kind of skips a generation -- my grandparents they grew up on a farm and raised chickens and now this younger generation, they're hungry for it, they are thirsty for it, they want to raise chickens, have the backyard garden and so that's what you are seeing here -- it's happening all over the country."

Unlike most farmers, this is not Jeff's only job.

"I work in advertising, that's my career, but I wanted to come home to something different," Jeff said.

Jeff goes from coaching models during the day to scooping poo in the evenings!

"You come home from a very stressful day of work -- you come home and look at the chickens," Jeff said. "It reminds you of the simpler life and I don't want to live on a farm to get that."

Like Jeff, his friend and nearby neighbor Chris Powers also raises backyard hens just minus the fancy chicken coop.

"Our hens are free in the backyard and they choose to stay here," Chris said. "We wanted to have fresh eggs number one. Fresh eggs are much better, when I had our first fresh egg - I was like wow! The flavor is so much better - there's a big difference," he said. "It better food -- better quality food, you know where your food is coming from, you know what you're feeding them," Chris said.

While the fresh eggs are a great benefit, both men say it's much more than that.

"I wanted to create a sustainable yard," Jeff said. "Then I realized how vital chickens are to any kind of green yard." "There's no need for fertilizer when you got chickens, there's no need to throw your food scraps away when you've got the chickens, there's no need to put your bags of leaves in the trash or the landfill when you've got your chickens," he said. "The whole idea is to compost the leaves - it serves as a bedding and it serves as material for your compost," he said. "After you go through a full season of that then you've got very fine compost and dirt then you put that around your vegetable garden and fruit trees - it's a fertilizer and it's free!"

Since the chickens eat most of their leftovers - there's not much that ever goes to waste.

"The added benefit is when you feed them food scraps it increases the mineral content of the egg," Jeff said.

Most chickens lay an egg every 26 hours. Jeff says for the backyard three to five chickens are plenty.

As far as cost, you can get a baby chick for as little as a dollar!

"I just met somebody who had chickens and said, 'I can do that.' So I called my buddy and said let's build something - we built this on the cheap and it's just been fun ever since," said Jeff.

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