BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Egg-laying hens are moving from the barnyard to your backyard.
New York City residents are starting to keep hens on their rooftops and in their rear yards — and if Brooklyn company Victory Chicken has its way, locals will soon be giving the birds as gifts for the holiday season.
"Chickens are the perfect holiday gift," said Noah Leff, founder of Victory Chicken, which delivers live chickens complete with coops to New Yorkers wanting to keep a more unusual animal companion. "They provide fresh year-round eggs and make funny little pets."
Victory Chicken was created two years ago after Leff joined the "chicken committee" at the Walt Shamel Community Garden across the street from his house in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He quickly fell in love with caring for the clucking birds and how great it felt to walk outside and grab freshly laid eggs in the morning.
"I thought everyone should experience this," he said. "New Yorkers can raise chickens, too."
His company helps them get started. Leff delivers locally built coops directly to his customers' roofs or backyards, along with three fluffy yardbirds. Within two hours, he sets up the coop, teaches a "Chicken 101" course, drops some food and is on his way — leaving proud new chicken parents on his wake.
"It's easier than people might think to care for chickens," he said. "It's the equivalent to having cats."
Every day, Leff stands on his balcony with a bowl full of scraps from the dinner table and calls out to his two hens, which come flying. Pecking about, they eat up the scraps and then retreat to a sunny spot to digest. Leff also keeps a bowl full of bird feed and some water in the coop.
And that’s about all the care they need, he explained.
But the benefits are tremendous. First of all, the eggs they produce are "eggier" than the store-bought version, Leff said. The whites are milky and the yolks more orange and tasty. Beyond that, the chickens have taught his 3-year-old son where food comes from and they make Leff more aware of his relationship to food.
“I don’t take it for granted,” he said.
Plus, he says they are fun pets that “have more personality than most people can imagine.”
The folks at Victory Chicken also think the birds make a good holiday gift.
“Our holiday package gives our customers a way to give their family, their friends or themselves one of the most creative and rewarding gifts of the holiday season,” Brett Mons, Victory Chicken’s business coordinator, said in a press release.
“We make it possible for people with no experience to start having a little backyard or rooftop flock right away.”
To find out more, visit Victory Chicken's website.