Cheap Eggs In The Backyard

Mar 11, 2016

Mark House has three Welsummer chickens, which lay speckled eggs. He says for some breeds, the birds can go from egg to egg laying in as little as 16 weeks.
Credit Mark House / provided

The city of Dayton is asking residents if they want to raise chickens. More specifically, the online survey asks if there's enough interest in small-scale agriculture to change residential zoning laws.  In Hamilton County an ordinance already allows backyard chicken coops. 

Mark House is the assistant manager at Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati's Eden Park.  At work he can be found tending to the plants.  At home in Glendale he tends to something else: chickens.  House has raised chickens for about seven years.  Right now he has three in his backyard.

House took a children's playhouse and turned it into a coop in his Glendale backyard.
Credit Mark House / provided

“I’ve had up to six at a time in my tiny little coop, which was adapted from a children’s playhouse. I just screened up the windows and penned up a yard for them to run around in.”

House says the entire set-up is only about 20 square feet. 

“During the day when I’m at home, I open up their pen and I let them out into my yard. And they run around and investigate things and do their chicken thing. And the neighbors will come to the fence and look and ask questions, but nobody’s complained.”

While up to ten chickens are allowed in a residential backyard in Hamilton County, there are nuisance ordinances.  House says if he gets a complaint, he has to change things.

House raises chickens because of the eggs.  He says they're fresher than store bought, and he believes they taste better.  House says that's why more and more people are taking an interest in backyard agriculture.

“People are interested in doing things themselves, being more sustainable, being concerned about their carbon footprint and as a hobby as well. There is a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment from it.”

The Krohn Conservatory has a program on raising backyard chickens.  It's Saturday afternoon, from 1 to 3.