Thinking about keeping chickens in the city? So are many other families! Raising urban chickens will not only provide your family with nutritious farm-fresh eggs on a regular basis, but it can also be a great hands-on learning experience for your little farmers. Listed below are some of our favorite ways to involve kids with your new brood members. If your family's just getting started raising city chickens, check out our full guide for beginners!
1. Kids have a ton of fun collecting eggs each day. And, if you have too many eggs for your family to consume, they will share with pride any extras with friends and neighbors.
We keep dedicated "chicken shoes" by the back door, since coops equal poops, and you don't want your wee ones to track that stuff into the house.
2. Obviously, helping you cook up some eggs is a great way for kids to gain an appreciation for where food comes from.
3. Chickens are cool! Your kids' friends — and most of the neighborhood — will want to see your pet chickens. Amaze your visitors with fun facts like: "Did you know that chickens are the closest living relatives of dinosaurs?"
4. Teaching kids about pet care — like feeding and watering hens — can be a way to model responsibility. Luckily chickens are as low-maintenance a pet as you'll ever find. Baby chicks do take more care and a gentle touch — attendance to their needs is best assigned to older children or closely supervised young ones.
5. Most fun for everyone is giving chickens treats: Call them and they'll come running! (But know that a bold hen might snatch a cracker out of the hand of an inattentive toddler.)
6. Chickens raised as pets grow used to being handled and picked up, which is great fun. But, unlike cats or dogs, chickens are also fine without social interaction.
7. With little ones: Have fun together reading chicken-themed books with your child and singing farm-themed songs. Before she could walk, I used to hold my baby up so that she could reach inside the nest box to grab the eggs—a big thrill for her.
8. Did I mention chicken costumes for Halloween? I've used this Martha Stewart make-it-yourself kids' chicken costume with great success.
9. With older kids, make a book together about your own chickens — include drawings, chicken "handprints," photos, list their favorite treats, and write stories about their escapades. You could also consider getting them involved in a 4H group (or start your own), like Sustainable Wallingford's "Cooped Up in Seattle" 4H club for urban farm kids.
10. Take your kids with you on the Seattle Tilth's annual chicken coop tour in July to meet other families with backyard chickens. Better yet, get on the coop tour and show off your own little ranch!
Check out the rest of our Family Guide to Urban Farming