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City Lot Poultry Diversification

 
                            
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Hey there, I am living on about a half acre lot in downtown San Diego. We have plenty of gardens in place and are on our way to creating a sustainable yard with natural ecology in mind. Our house is zoned for up to 25 chickens or other poultry along with up to 100 pigeons. My family raised homing pigeons most of my life and I have had experience raising and caring for various poultry birds (chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and guineas). It is important to me to create biological diversity in our living home am curious how to implement that here at our home. I would like to definitely use chickens in our set-up but was looking for another poultry that is

a. quiet, its important for me to be a good neighbor
b. coexists well with chickens, my uncles farm back home has guineas, bantee chickens, turkeys and pheasants mostly kept free range
c. provides us some benefits through food, foraging, and other ecological aids

Based on the size of our lot and the plans for our rice paddies, bogs, and water systems, I wanted to avoid ducks and geese because of their effects on our water cycle. We just don't have enough space for ponds that will remain clean with constant waterfowl use. I am looking for a few ideas on birds that will work well together in a city environment. I also enjoy the idea of other critters like rabbits and guinea pigs, I am not new to ecology or biology concepts but this is my first attempt at a complete permaculture system. Any and all ideas are appreciated, getting a change of perception is why I came here.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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Do you intend to breed your own replacement stock?  That might let chickens out, since you are concerned about noise (although my hens are pretty noisy, too, from time to time).  Are you after eggs or meat or both?  I think that after quiet, production ought to be your primary consideration, because it's your management that's going to determine any ecological benefits.  The primary thing will be to not overstock -- probably no more than a dozen birds on your half acre, even though you are zoned for more than that.  I've got twenty or so chickens running around on our acre, not counting the two batches of chicks in chicken tractors, and I don't think I would want very many more than that on this size of property. 

Back to management, it's important to spend a lot of time observing, and know when to let the birds on a certain patch, and when to take them off.  I think that ducks could actually work well with your plans for paddies and so on, if they were carefully managed.  And since duck eggs are a lot more nutritious than chicken eggs (look for a comparison chart on-line), you might want to reconsider them.  If eggs are to be your primary source of protein and healthy fats, duck eggs are much higher in things like Vitamin B12 than chicken eggs are.

Kathleen
 
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