Freshman Joe Zales is raising four hens in his backyard, including this one, Venus.

Q&A with Joe Zales: Freshman raises four chickens (Raven, Ursula, Dotty and Venus) in his backyard

Freshman Joe Zales currently has four hens, which he keeps in his backyard.

Q: When and where did you get the chickens?

A: We got our chickens at the end of May from the Bradshaw Feed & Pet Supply.

Q: How many do you have?

A: We have four hens, and we live in a regular neighborhood, not on a farm property. According to the Sacramento County Planning office, people are only allowed to keep “a reasonable amount of chickens (or other small animals) at their residence.”

Q: What are their names?

A: Raven, Ursula, Dotty and Venus.

Q: Why did you decide to get them?

A: Because chickens are fun and it’s nice to get fresh eggs.

Q: What is it like to own chickens?

A: It’s exciting to go outside and play with them. It’s even more exciting to go outside and find an egg because only one of the four is mature enough to lay right now.

Q: Where do you keep them?

A: In a coop in our backyard.

Q: Are they messy or difficult to take care of?

A: They aren’t very messy and fertilize our yard nicely when they are kept free range in the yard.

Q: How does your family split responsibilities for these chickens?

A: We all help with feeding and giving them water. Also, we have to open the doors to their coop in the morning and close them at night. As soon as it gets dark, they go inside their coop. We just have to shut the doors. They really aren’t very hard to take care of.

Q: When getting chickens, were you or your family at all worried about the risks of contracting salmonella?

A: No, not really. We always wash our hands after playing with them and cleaning up after them.

Q: What are you feeding them?

A: Right now they just started on layer food (food with more calcium to keep the eggshells hard) because they are about five months old. For treats they really love grapes.

Q: What do you do with the eggs?

A: We only have one of the hens laying, Dotty (the smallest), so right now we just eat them. When all four start laying eggs. we might give some away.

Q: Do you plan on getting more chickens?

A: Probably not. Once all four start laying, we will hopefully have a lot of eggs.

—By Allison Zhang

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