My city has an ordinance against chickens and they seem pretty intent on not changing it. I have a large garage and a basement, and ive been known to do crime.
How small can you build a clandestine coop that will still allow the chicken to healthy?
While on one level I applaud your actions in wanting to produce your own food etc etc on the other hand your problem may not be size as such but sound . Chickens make lots of noise and I believe all animals need to be out in the air at least some of the time ( unless they are fish ). I would have difficulty squaring those two issues
Maybe auqaponics is a better way ahead for you .
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At some point "small" presumably becomes "too small".
If you are hiding your chickens in a garage or a basement, you are not allowing your chickens to behave like chickens. At this point, I don't see how this is permaculture, where you can argue you are working with chickens as part of an ecosystem.
This doesn't seem to me to be a permaculture question - more one about how you can get away with keeping chickens under the noses of the law.
In the interests of the perfect not being the enemy of the good, if you have a basement, and want to grow animal protein, I suppose you could try cockroaches, mealworms or one of the other edible insects suited to zone 1.
another way to solve the problem that Neil raises (which I agree with, "is that permaculture?") would be to see what the local ordinance actually says. For instance, can you have quail or ducks instead of chickens? (is it eggs you are after?).
I've found that ducks are quieter than chickens, but make more of a mess!
If you're moving your chickens over different ground (ie a chicken-tractor style thing) then you can get away with a much smaller enclosure. If they're penned in the same spot- it will have to be much bigger. The smaller the enclosure the more cleaning it needs!
Chickens are flock animals. They gather up to keep warm, to forage and explore the novel, to protect themselves from perceived threats. Two is not really a flock and I would suspect that only two chickens would shortly become zero chickens due to stress.
If you're doing it for the eggs, you might want to look into quail. Again, not ideal to have them inside but...
On the other hand if you're looking to produce some meat, a good well vented garage will suffice for a trio of meat rabbits. By placing a worm bin under the hutches you can capture the manure and recycle the nutrients back to your garden or sell it as soil ammendments to others.
I'll give another vote to trying quail instead. Being smaller you can keep more of them in a smaller space. They also seem to do better with confinement. They are also much quieter. Several of my hens make a huge fuss when they lay and they all cackle and call in the mornings when I go to let them out, or if I don't let them out soon enough to suite them. In comparison all I ever heard from the quail was an occasional soft coo you could barely hear from a few feet away. Quail don't seem to have the same issues of pecking, feather pulling, etc that chickens kept in close quarters seem to. I had a flock of 6 quail for about a year and a half. I was in a small suburban space and wasn't sure if chickens would be a good fit so I got quail instead. I started with 10, ate the 4 males when they were a few months old and kept the 6 hens for another year or so. They spent the summers in a small enclosure tucked into a corner of the garden. I think it was about 2.5 x 4 ft in size. On bare ground so they could scratch around a bit. They spent the winter in my garage in a large dog kennel (maybe 3x4) that I adapted for them. They seemed perfectly happy in both setups. They do get quite smelly though kept indoors so expect to change their bedding often. I got pretty much one egg for each hen every day year round. Eggs are smaller but have proportionally more yolk than a chicken egg. Never had any problems with them during the time I had them. Only got rid of them (actually I ate them) because we were moving a long distance with no practical way to take them along.
I think quail would be easy to hide on a suburban lot. Make a coop from a dog house or maybe a movable tractor that looks like a cold frame or mini-hoop house. I'm guessing your neighbors would never know that the structure had quail in it. They produce quite a lot of eggs for their size/space requirements and the boys are quite tasty.
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