Urban farming gaining ground

Thomas Kriese of Redwood City said he bought his first chickens two years ago to teach his two daughters where food comes from. He said the chickens not only fertilize his vegetables, but they eat his weeds and provide eggs.

“They pay for their stay in a sense,” he said. “They lay eggs every 26 hours.”

Kriese’s interest in urban farming began to grow with his garden. He started a blog, UrbanChicken.com, to share rules and maintenance with other chicken enthusiasts.

Keeping chickens has become more common in urban areas, with eco-conscious residents creating home gardens and using chickens for fresh eggs and manure.

Jessica Holcombe and her husband Vincent Van Gerven, who live in unincorporated San Mateo County, had two chickens and two roosters. Holcombe said the couple wanted to use the eggs and have the feeling of a bucolic lifestyle while living in a semi-urban area.

After complaints from neighbors, however, they got rid of their roosters.Kim Sturla, director of Animal Place in Vacaville, said rooster complaints are the No. 1 reason her sanctuary receives calls from people looking for a place to bring the animals.

Most cities have rules in place for the proper housing and care of chickens, Sturla said. For instance, Burlingame residents are limited to 12 poultry animals per yard, which can be caged no less than 35 feet from a neighboring home.

In Redwood City, residents are allowed a maximum of three chickens. Roosters more than 4 months old are prohibited.

Sturla, though, said chickens are great pets to have in an urban or suburban setting.

“I think they’re wonderful,” she said. “They can be great companions if they are well cared for and given a social environment.”

Chicken criteria

Peninsula city municipal codes:

Burlingame: 12 chickens are allowed, but must be kept in an enclosure at the back of the yard and 35 feet from a neighbor’s home. Roosters are not allowed.

Daly City: Prohibits roosters in the city; chickens must be kept in the yard.

Redwood City: A limit of three hens per household. Roosters over 4 months old are prohibited.

San Mateo: Up to 10 hens are allowed in an enclosed coop; permits are required. Roosters over 4 months old are prohibited.

South San Francisco: Chickens are not allowed within city limits.

Source: Municipal codes of Burlingame, Daly City, Redwood City, San Mateo and South San Francisco

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