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Saucy Urban Chickens Add to Eco House Experience

Cater Corley holds one of the Eco House chickesn in front of chicken coop
Cater Corley ’17

Cater Corley '17 was on a mission—chickens! Last semester she lived in the Eco House, an on-campus home for up to 10 students who are interested in practicing a sustainable lifestyle. Corley brought up the idea of chickens at a group brainstorm and Eco House members agreed that having chickens to produce eggs would reduce the group's support of environmentally degrading factory farms and ensure that their breakfasts contain local ingredients.

Corley persisted with the idea because she had experience. Raised in Marietta, Ga., her family had raised chickens. "I ordered five of them in the mail as baby chicks. They were really little at first, and weren't allowed to go outside for a few months," she said. "So I raised them first in the bathtub!"

Corley organized a meeting with college administrators to explain her idea. The biggest concern was the expense, but the college agreed to provide a mobile "tractor coop" at a cost of $800. "The college recognized the value and learning opportunity it provides," Corley said.

Corley drove in late January to Rooster Hill Farms in China Grove to pick up three chickens. The coop, which was delivered to the college, has wheels, and is moved every two weeks so that the chickens fertilize different areas of the yard. At their weekly community dinner, the Eco-House residents decided on a hot sauce theme for names of members of the flock, dubbing them Sriracha, Cholula, and Tabasco.

The chickens are all currently laying eggs, and every morning a member of the Eco House collects two to three to be used in the group's meals. All the members of the Eco House participate in caring for the chickens. Their list of chores now includes egg collection, feeding and watering the chickens, and cleaning the coop.

Corley said the chickens will be at their most productive for about two more years. "Chickens lay a set amount of eggs, and then stop laying," she said. When these chickens stop laying, the Eco House group plans to return them to Rooster Hill Farm in trade for others who are about to start.