Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Who would think a city block is home to a chicken farm?
“This seems to be catching on, that more and more people are taking up the practice of raising and caring for egg-laying, primarily egg laying, hens in their backyards,” says Guillermo Cole of the Allegheny County Health Department.
“I think everyone wants food that is local and knows the heritage of it nowadays,” says Steven Komorowski, a neighbor of an urban chicken farm on the North Side.
People are raising chickens for their own personal eggs.
“You’re talking two or three chickens, you’re getting an egg a chicken, so that’s three eggs a day. That’s going to be enough for a family of two, easy for breakfast every day,” says Komorowski. He has sampled the ultra-freshness. “Really doesn’t taste much different, but it must smell different, because I’ve never had the dogs pay much attention to supermarket eggs before.”
The health department has noticed the trend and is trying to stop any potential problems, namely outbreaks with the bacteria salmonella.
“It occurs naturally in the intestines and is shed in their droppings,” says Cole. “You have to assume, not only the poultry, but everything in the bird’s environment is contaminated.”
It’s urging all urban chicken keepers to keep their food and drink out of the coop area, to remove shoes and clothing worn into the coop and to wash hands with soap and water after handling the poultry.
Salmonella is a reportable illness.
“We have had no cases, no cases of all of salmonella linked to urban chicken farming,” says Cole.
“As long as you’re clean about it, and pay attention, it’s not going to be a problem,” says Komorowski, who is not concerned about salmonella.
City dwellers who want to raise chickens need permission.
“Check with your municipality first that it would be permitted under local zoning ordinances, and if it is, see if there are any restrictions,” Cole advises.
There may be limits on how many and rules so you don’t offend your neighbors.
But this neighbor is fond of the familiar fowl.
“To wake up and hear the chickens every now and again is pretty nice,” Komorowski says.
You won’t see the eggs from urban chicken farming in the grocery store. They are for personal use only. Commercial production is subject to government regulation.