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SAN DIEGO — As the nationwide egg shortage clucks on and prices fly higher and higher, San Diegans searching the shelves may need to look to their own back yards instead.

Finding farm fresh eggs might be easier than most realize. The City of San Diego on Thursday reminded locals that urban farming is permitted under Municipal Code Section 42.0709.

How many chickens may be kept on your property? Well, the size of your flock is based on how far the chicken coop is from your property lines.

Most homes are allowed up to five chickens with a chicken coop in the back yard, 5 feet from side property lines and 13 feet from the rear property line, according to the city.

More information regarding the zone setback for your property can be found here. Another option is to call the city’s Development Services Department at 619-446-5000 and provide your address for further zoning details.

The benefits

Aside from the convenience factor of skipping the grocery store and avoiding inflated costs, the city explained their are many perks to raising your own backyard chickens. Here are some of the most considerable benefits, according to the city.

— A healthy adult hen generally lays up to 300 eggs a year. Five hens would supply approximately 30 eggs a week, which would meet the needs of a typical family of four.

— Backyard eggs contain 25% more vitamin E, 33% more vitamin A and 75% more beta carotene.

— Home raising reduces the need for transporting eggs from farm/factory to store to home resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions and packaging materials.

— Many see a benefit in knowing that the chickens are raised and fed in humane conditions.

— Chicken manure can be added to compost piles or used directly as a fertilizer when tilled into the soil.

The risks

Though a bountiful at-home egg supply may be great for San Diegans, the city also warned there are possible health risks when handling chickens. For instance, chickens may carry Salmonella germs even though they appear healthy, which can make people sick. The city said young children and those with immune impairment are at a higher risk.

There are ways to reduce these risks, according to the city.

— Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after touching chickens or anything in the area where they occupy.

— Avoid touching your mouth before washing your hands. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.

— Do not let children younger than 5 years of age handle or touch chickens without supervision. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.

— Do not eat or drink in the area the chickens occupy.

— Do not let chickens inside the house or in areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored, such as kitchens, pantries or outdoor patios.

— Clean equipment and materials associated with raising or caring for chickens such as coops, feed containers and water containers, outside the house, not inside.

More information on the city’s urban farming guidelines can be found here.

For egg-loving San Diegans, raising a brood of hens might not be a bad idea during this ongoing supply shortage. Good luck with your SoCal “peep of chicks!”