Photo by Crystal Rhyno/Advocate staff

Photo by Crystal Rhyno/Advocate staff

Having a hens-on experience

Chickens are not the average household pet but at least one Morrisroe family is welcoming six of the feathered animals into their backyard. The Cundict children – Elizabeth, Katherine, Tom – wanted a dog but their parents Mark and Joanne said no way because of the amount of work involved in caring for the dog.

Chickens are not the average household pet but at least one Morrisroe family is welcoming six of the feathered animals into their backyard.

The Cundict children – Elizabeth, Katherine, Tom – wanted a dog but their parents Mark and Joanne said no way because of the amount of work involved in caring for the dog.

So when the siblings heard the City of Red Deer was extending its urban chicken pilot project, the children went back to their parents with another proposal.

“I thought it would be a lot cooler than having a cat or dog,” said Elizabeth Cundict, 13. “They are a productive pet. You take care of them and they give you eggs.”

Joanne Cundict said it seemed like a neat project that they could turn into a learning project for the entire family. In May, they attended Backyard Chickens 101 Workshop, an event in Red Deer put on by the Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK).

Although she grew up on a farm, Joanne said they learned a lot from the workshop and from her children who continue to teach them about chickens that they never knew. There are 40 homes with up to six chickens participating in the formal pilot which runs until March 31, 2014.

At the end of the pilot, the city will consider options for allowing or disallowing urban chickens including a bylaw.

The Cundict family purchased six baby chicks – three orpingtons, one australorp and two cross breeds shortly after the backyard chicken session. Chicks need to be kept warm so the family has been using a heat lamp in their garage to keep the little ones toasty.

Joanne said the hens do not start laying eggs until six months but they wanted her children to learn about the whole process of raising chickens. The finishing touches were put on the backyard coop over the weekend. The chickens were expected to move in their home over the long weekend.

“We grew up on a farm,” said Joanne. “It’s nice to have our own eggs. The most important thing is we will know where our eggs come from.”

She said the eggs will be white and brown which will be a great treat for the family.

The neighbours, on both sides of the Cundicts, were informed about the new editions to the family and are thrilled about the fresh eggs next door.

“They could lay up to two dozen eggs a week,” said Joanne. “We are going to have to have friends.”