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Milwaukee's 'Coopetition' Not Just for the Birds

Jan. 18, 2012
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To celebrate the city ordinance allowing Milwaukee residents to keep up to four chickens, Cream City Hens and Beintween are bringing a "Coopetition" (a design/build contest for chicken coops) home to roost. Keith Hayes, founder of Beintween, sounded off on good coop/bad coop, love and lava, and vacuum-formed chicken face masks.

First, the obvious: the chicken or the egg?

What came first? The egg. What would I rather have? The chicken, of course—it makes many an egg, a nice pet and, one day, a delicious sacrificial meal.

"Cream City Hens" sounds delicious.

Cream City Hens is Jessica Lane, a brilliant proponent whose efforts allow any Milwaukeean to devil their own fresh raised eggs however which way they may please. Beintween is running the Coopetition.

Lovacore: geological sample, punk rock genre, or both?

Both extractions sound reasonable. The core of love is deep. Maybe a geological composite cultivated with time and found beyond a surface?

I think you mean locavore, though—one who eats locally produced food, instead of products moved long distances.

Er, right. Of course. Now the contest: Best coop wins. Where can people find out more?


Good coop/bad coop?

Good coop—natural light, ventilation, recycled materials and compost; chickens will eat all kinds of food scrap. Bad coop—difficult to clean, ruffles feathers or invites raccoons.

Coopetition honorable mention is cash (for the city's fee) and two chicks. Hot chicks?

I'm gonna say cute, but we'll leave this to our jury. The top three coops also receive cash prizes—tentatively, $1,000, $500 and $250. Special thanks to Outpost Natural Foods and Beans & Barley on that one.

Coops yield hundreds of eggs annually. But aren't potential savings undone by the city's fee?

Don't sweat the fee; just join the Coopetition. Registration is free, so long as it's in by the March 1 deadline. But figure a healthy hen lays 284 eggs per year, on average. I believe the leghorn breed are the best lay-ers. So a maxed-out coop could provide over 1,100 fresh eggs—almost two 12-egg cartons per week.  Friends with coops have also alleviated lumberyards and coffee harvesters of waste—wood chips and organic material extracted from coffee beans—which need to be periodically changed in coops.

On a bird-flu paranoia aside: Do Coopetition winners get little white masks?

We're working on a chicken face mold, for vacuum-formed masks. We'll distribute them as wearable plaques... next year.

Speaking of next year... Best plucker? Or best omelet?

Omelet all the way. Nothing brings people together like fresh food.


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