Much of the local food movement in America is nested in a desire to live sustainably, to augment the current plan for living in small incremental ways that reduce the consumption of goods or increase the proportion of sustainable goods consumed. Many turn very quickly to the idea of growing vegetables to supplement their diets, and there are many designs out there for the urban dweller looking to produce to salad greens in his efficiency apartment. Gardens are a wonderful thing, but unless they are carefully planned they tend to produce a meal (one coming solely from what you grew) that is on the lighter side in the fats and protein side of things. A beautiful supplement to this is animal husbandry, and what I would like to look at in this article is the utilization of chickens in a small urban environment to increase the quantity of protein and fat in the diet of someone looking to produce some of their own food.
Chickens are ideal for this task because they are relatively small compared to other domesticated farm animals, they produce protein without the need to slaughter the animal (eggs), and they can live in relatively confined spaces.
The amount of space your chickens will require depends on the size of the flock and the presence or absence of a coop. The coop is recommended in the urban environment because it provides a level of containment to your chicken operation; the animals will sleep and lay eggs in this structure. Feed for the chickens is more focused in this setting because the birds are being denied the ability to forage around the yard for their own wild food. Many premixed feed are available, they contain a mixture of grains which provide the chicken with protein and carbohydrates. Chickens also need greens in their diet, and they happily pluck them from their environment which is your yard in this case. Constant access to water is also essential to the health of the birds. This is the basic formula for chicken care. Of course there are other obstacles you may encounter but getting involved with local farmers and groups in your area will be great sources of advice and direction.