cc table of contents:

MAIN PAGE  . . . . . . . . . CHICKEN TRACTOR GALLERY  . . .. . . . . . . .PICTORIAL HISTORY  . . . . . . . . . . .F.A.Q. . . . . . . . . . . .ARTICLES  . . . . . . . . . . CHICKEN LAWS  . . . . . . . . . . . BROODING CHICKS  . . . . . . . . .   HEN HOUSE of the MONTH  . . . . . . . . .THE SCOOP ON POOP  . . . . . . . . . . . BEAUTIFUL CHICKENS . . .  . .  . . .  .  . . EACH MONTH      

Motivational articles that I have been collecting
on the topic of keeping chickens in the city... .

"Dear KS...I sent your site to a friend that has been wanting chickens also.  I can't wait to build my first chicken tractor!!
Such an informative site for new 'chicken people.'   You are the Martha Stewart of chickens!"    ----G.D., Fort Madison, Iowa

Raising chickens in Newport News may run afoul of the law . . . . . By Joe Lawlor, . . . . . . . . . 7:22 p.m. EDT, September 21, 2013 . . . . . NEWPORT NEWS — Michael Morris picked up his brown-feathered chicken, Gladys, and petted her like a cat or dog. . . . . . . "These are my pets," said Morris, who feeds the chickens apples and grapes. "I enjoy watching them interact. They all have different personalities. They're not very bright, though." . . . . . . . . Morris, who this spring acquired five hens and one rooster from a farm in York County, said Wednesday he was upset recently to see a city complaint notice on his door last week. He lives in the historic Huntington Heights neighborhood in Newport News, and owning chickens runs afoul of a city ordinance that disallows farm animals. Hampton has a similar ordinance. . . . . . . "This is not the Soviet Union," Morris said. "Nobody should be able to say what we can and can't do." . . . . . Newport News does not permit its residents to raise poultry unless there's an area on the property that's more than 175 feet from a neighbor's house. Morris' property doesn't meet the threshold. . . . . . Morris said that he decided to raise chickens because he was interested in fresh eggs and raising the chickens as pets. His chickens haven't yet produced eggs. . . . . . Morris' chickens, if he's allowed to keep them, will be allowed to die of old age. . . . . . Morris keeps the chickens in a hand-built coop, and when he lets them out, they stay in a fenced-in area of his back yard. His rooster usually crows between 8 and 9 a.m. every morning, he said. . . . . Atiya Pope, animal services director for Newport News, said that the law doesn't permit chickens for residents who live within 175 feet of their neighbors. She said roosters, especially, can be too loud. . . . . . However, Pope said that the city inspector who visited Morris' house last week found that the coop was "immaculate." . . . . . ."He has a great set-up for the chickens. It was ideal conditions," Pope said. "As long as we don't get continuous complaints, we don't enforce (animal laws) too heavily. What we're most concerned about is sanitation." . . . . Pope said the city's animal control laws are outdated — some of them are 50 years old — and she would like to see the laws revamped. . . . . . Katy Skinner, who operates the website that advises people about how to raise chickens in an urban environment, said in an email response to questions that Newport News' laws appear to be more stringent than what is typical. . . . . ."Many towns and cities I've noticed are going for a three-hen rule. That means, you can be living on any size lot, but you can only keep up to three hens, and roosters are not allowed. In my opinion, this is a nice urban compromise," Skinner wrote. . . . . She has compiled a state-by-state list of chicken laws in various cities. . . . . . Morris said he just wants to keep a few chickens, and he's not attempting to start a city farm. . . . . "If I'm allowed to keep the chickens, I promise I won't get a cow or a goat," Morris said, laughing. . . . .Copyright 2013, Newport News, Va., Daily Press.


rticle from: Chickens Magazine, Spring 2013 issue, volume 2, no. 1 / . . . . . . . After a neighbor turned in Barbara Palermo to the city authorities for owning four illegal hens, the chicken keeper from Salem, Oregon decided to investigate how to make her pets legal in her city. . . . . . . . Palermo discovered that although hens were a no-no, it was perfectly legal to own pot-bellied pigs of up to 100 pounds. . . . . . . . “We can have a potbelly pig, this completely useless animal, but I can't have my 3-pound little hen who gives me beautiful eggs and is so entertaining?!”   Palermo fumed. . . . . . . . It just didn’t make sense. . . . . . . . When she asked her city councilor to help her out, she was shut down. . . . . . . . So, she decided to do some research herself. . . . . . . . “I went online and found out that there was an urban chicken movement," she recalls. . . 
. . . . . "And chickens were legal almost everywhere and that people where chickens weren't legal were fighting to get them legal. . . . . . . . There were so many other people across the country in large cities, small cities and everywhere in between, wanting what I wanted. . . . . . . . I realized that my request wasn't unreasonable”. . . . . . . Responses to a message she posted on a chickens website brought her three new supporters in Salem who said they'd help her. . . . . . . . Organizing quickly, 70 members of their new group Chickens In The Yard (aka CITY) attended the February 23, 2009 council meeting asking for the law to be changed. . . . . . . . For eight months, the issue was discussed, debated and eventually moved around a few city departments before the council voted against the measure in October 2009. . . . . . . . CITY members continued their fight. . . . . . . . They attended more than 16 city council meetings, gained support of more than half of the city's neighborhood organizations and even produced a video called The Chicken Revolution. . .  . . . . . Their efforts paid off. . . . . . . . On September  27, 2010, the council voted 7 to 2 to allow backyard hens. . . . . . . . The new law allows residents to keep three backyard hens and took effect January 1, 2011. . . . . . . . “Chickens are not just pets," Palermo says. . . . . . . . “They play such an important role in my whole backyard ecosystem. . . . . . . . They’re tied to the compost and the gardening and the greenhouse and all of it, and they give me food that I can trust and enjoy.”   . . . . . Two of Palermo’s original hens died during her extended fight with city hall. . . . . . . Her two remaining birds are back in their coop, and she plans to add new chicks this spring after the group hosts its first Chick Day on April 2, 2011. . . . . . . . CITY organizers have planned several events for the spring including poultry health classes, chicken-raising seminars and a chicken coup tour June 19. 2011. . . . . . Palermo has fielded calls from across the United States and is eager to help others who want to follow in her footsteps. . . . . cc. . . In January 2011, she was scheduled to speak at a city council meeting in Keizer, Oregon. . . . cc. . . “That normally would have terrified me in the past, but now that I’ve done all of these things that I’ve done, I just look forward to it, actually,” she says. . . . . . . . “I can’t wait to help other people get what we finally got.” . . . . . . Her close friend, and CITY colleague, Nannette Martin, says Palermo deserves to be called “the patron saint of chickens.” . . . . . .“I’ve told Barbara our difficult chicken fight happened for a reason,” Martin says. . . . . . . . “I said, if it had been easy, you would not have been able to offer this help to other people.” *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  Chickens In The Yard (CITY) founder Barbara Palermo offers these tips for backyard chicken supporters looking for legality:  1)  If you can't get on the clty council meeting agenda, show up for your municipality's call to the public.  A sympathetic councilor encouraged Palermo’s group to organize and show up for this open spot on the agenda.  "You have three minutes. . Make it good and do your thing," she told Palermo. 2)  Build alliances with neighborhood groups.   CITY members made presentations for each neighborhood group in Salem, and I2 of I9 associations gave their support for backyard chickens.  3)  Visit for reports, letters of support from city officials regarding backyard chickens, research regarding hens and many other helpful documents. 4)  Expect questions about noise, odor and health concerns.   Be prepared with well-researched answers.  

ccFrom:  Backyard Poultry Magazine, Volume 4, Number 6, January 2013. . . .. Written by Frank Hyman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .In 30 years as a political activist I’ve won 4 races as a campaign manager, served on a city council, helped start political organizations, been president of a neighborhood association and worked on issues like affordable housing, living wage and recycling. But I never once imagined I would be working to change the laws to allow people to have backyard chickens.  . . . cc. . . . . . . . .But my wife Chris, who thinks of hens as “pets with benefits”—and many of our friends--wanted backyard chickens and our city—Durham, NC-- didn’t allow it. So, since I try to be a good husband, I threw my lot in with a group that Chris and others had named HENS; meaning Healthy Eggs in Neighborhoods Soon.  . . . . . . . . . . . .Well the good news is that we have Healthy Eggs in Neighborhoods Now, but it didn’t come easily or quickly. And more than once our success was in doubt. At the start only 2 of the 7 council members were strong advocates and the others were either uncertain or inclined to be opposed. But in the end, after a year of steady—and mostly enjoyable—work, we won with a unanimous vote.  . . . . . . . . . . . .If you want to make backyard hens legal in your town, the most succinct advice I have is to: . . . . . .Get Organized . . . . . .Get Allies . . . . . .Don’t Give Up . . . . . .So here’s a brief tale of how we did just that.  . . . . . . . . . . . .Getting Organized . . . . . . . . . . . .Organizational meetings . . . . . .Through word-of-mouth and email messages, we started out with 5-10 people with varying levels of knowledge about hens. We held meetings once or twice a month for an hour or so during the course of a campaign that lasted most of a year (so be patient). To keep meetings productive and well-attended, it was important to stay focused on only 4 things: 1) short reports on everyone’s work since the last meeting, 2) deciding what work needed to happen and 3) who would do it before our next meeting and 4) a tiny bit of socializing and noshing to keep things fun.  . . . . . . . . . . . .Petitions . . . . . .We went to events like music festivals and set up a tables  so we could hand out brochures and get signatures on our petition asking the city council to allow hens. Some places that might seen friendly to your cause—like farmer’s markets—may have rules against that kind of activity, so be sure to ask for permission.  . . . . . . . . . . . .No matter how many names are on a petition though, elected officials  will not necessarily be persuaded because they figure that there are more people in your city who did not sign. Sad, but true. Showing up with little more than a petition for your cause is a common way to lose. (We watched it happen in a city near us during our campaign. )     You still want to share the petition with officials, but the real value of the petition is to help your group get organized and acquire allies. When people signed our petition, many included their email addresses. This gave us a list of hundreds of people we could alert about our meetings and pubic hearings in front of elected officials. Twenty live bodies at a hearing are more valuable than 2000 dry signatures on a piece of paper. But the petition helps you get those live bodies.  . . . . . . . . . . . .And when people do sign, it gives your people a good ego boost, which is important in a long civic campaign.  . . . . . . . . Research . . .cc . . .Part of getting organized is making sure that your team knows more about this issue than the opponents or the elected officials. Otherwise you can’t respond to questions or be persuasive. The good news is you can split this research work amongst yourselves; “many hands make light work”.  . . . . . . . . . . . .One of the jobs we divvied up was calling the animal control officers and public health directors of the cities in NC that already allowed chickens to ask them: 1)  what concerns they had, 2) how many and 3) what kind of complaints they had from citizens. Across the board the public health directors had no problems (especially no concerns about Avian flu) and the animal control staffs all recalled on average about 2-3 complaints per month about noise or loose hens (compared to thousands of complaints a month about dogs).  . . . . . . . . . . . .Quoting these people in our brochures and at public hearings was very effective in getting citizens, the press, city staff and city council members to get off the fence and support our cause. We sounded knowledgeable and trustworthy. When opponents in the press or at hearings argued against hens, they sounded uninformed and irrational by comparison.  . . . . . . . . . . . .Our Message . . . cc. . .As part of getting organized we crafted some simple messages and avoided others. We didn’t want roosters, so we always emphasized first that we were against having roosters and only wanted hens. We even corrected our allies who used the word ‘chickens’ to say that we only wanted ‘hens’. We also insisted that hen advocates not threaten elected officials with defeat at the polls if they didn’t agree with us. Face it, hens are not going to be a make it or break it issue at election time. Elected officials know it and you should too. Don’t make threats.  . . . . . . . . . . . .Part of our message was to create a map of NC, where each of the major cities that allowed hens was marked with the image of a nest with eggs in it. Durham, for not allowing hens, was represented by an empty nest with no eggs. How sad! . . . . . . . . . . . .We also created a simple brochure with the 1) bullet points about the virtues of backyard hens, 2) a debunking of some of the concerns and complaints and 3) our contact info and 4) a plug for our beautiful T shirts with our motto: “raise hens, gather eggs, eat local.” . . . . . . . . . . . .Getting Allies . . . . . . . . . . . .Government Staff . . . . . .When elected officials are preparing to make a decision, they want to know where their staff people stand on the issue. They count on these peoples’ professional judgment.  . . . . . .cc . . . . . .When it comes time to get a campaign off the ground, you want to have a good relationship with the staff people, especially the planning director, the city attorney and the city manager. Fortunately for us, a person on the staff of the planning dept. was a strong ally from the beginning. Sometimes the attorney’s office or another department will address an ordinance change—finding out who is best to talk to is all part of doing your research. If you’re not certain, ask the city or county manager, who on their staff would be handling such an ordinance and what the procedure would be. By respecting their opinion and their time, one of your best allies will be the staff people who would be developing this ordinance and enforcing it.  . . . . . . . . . . . .We also met with our local animal control office to make sure they felt like they already had the resources to handle the few calls that allowing hens might entail. One of the easiest ways to make an unnecessary enemy in a civic campaign like this, is to make the mistake of ignoring the very staff people who’s work will be effected by this change. . . . . . . . . . . . .The Press . . . . . .We made a point of keeping local reporters and bloggers aware of what we were doing. This topic has a lot of human interest (and opportunities for puns and photos) so some of them will be inclined to help you get the word out and debunk some of the false notions about hens (e.g. noise, smell, disease, etc.).  . . . . . . . . . . . .Other Civic Groups . . . cc. . .Many of our members went to their neighborhood associations and were able to get votes of support from them. This helped us turn out more people at public hearings and to show the elected officials that most reasonable people supported backyard hens when they had the facts.  . . . . . .cc . . . . . .Elected Officials . . . . . .I include elected officials as potential allies, because it’s important not to succumb to the notion that they are the enemy.  Even if they say they are opposed, many of them can be persuaded if they are given the facts and are exposed to the broad support that your work can engender.  . . . . . . . . . . . .To get an elected official on board as an ally, it is important to get a face-to face meeting between them and a handful of your members. Email is dandy, but it’s no substitute for a real meeting, so keep calling until they give you a date for a 30 min. meeting.         As elected officials they work for the public and the reasonable ones will meet with you. When you do meet with them, specifically ask them “What are your concerns about allowing backyard hens?” and “What information would help you feel comfortable supporting backyard hens?” or words to that effect. When they answer these questions, they will be giving you a roadmap that shows you how to get a majority of them to support you.  . . . . . . . . . . . .Some of our elected officials were concerned about Avian flu, so we lined up the local health dept. to come to public hearings to reassure them. Others were concerned about giving neighbors a chance to have their objections heard, so the final ordinance includes a process for that, though it’s very unlikely that an objection would be factual enough to block a citizen from having hens.  . . . . . . . . . . . .Don’t Give Up . . . . . . . . . . . .Public Hearings . . . . . .In the beginning many of us thought we would just go in front of the council, explain how great backyard hens were and they would give us the go-ahead. But before it even got to the city council,  we had to go before 2 different planning committees for a votes that were a couple of months apart.       We had already lined up support from other organizations and had the support of the staff, but we also made sure to ask members of these committees  their concerns. Some opponents objected to hens because they had been pecked by roosters as children.  Both recommended in favor of our request. Each was a victory but not the end. I worried that some advocates might drop out as the process dragged on. It’s better to think of time as an ally rather than an enemy.  . . . . . .But the pathway to success was specific and we continually had new people with fresh energyand ideas joining our cause.  . . . . . . . . . . . .Brought kids, which had a big impact on some.  . . . . . . . . . . . .To get a final vote from the city council we had to attend a half-dozen ‘work sessions” and public hearings before the council as opponents brought up their objections—diseases, noise, smell, and various ones that were kind of silly to us—that Durham was ‘urban’ and hens should be in rural areas, that roosters had pecked at someone’s legs when they were young, etc.—but we treated these objections and the people raising them with respect. After all, these same people might be the allies we need on a future issue. . . . . . . . . . . . .But by persevering and getting a face-to-face meeting with each council member and by taking their concerns seriously and working to address each one, we went from a situation where even our allies on staff thought we might lose to eventually getting unanimous 7-0 vote from the council.

ccFrom:  . . . . . . By Adolfo Flores, Los Angeles Times . . . . . . . . San Marino considers rule to allow residents to keep chickens  . . . . May 21, 2014 . . . . . A San Marino resident who grows much of her own food wants to add eggs to the things she can permanently cross off her grocery list. The city is considering it. . . . . . Pam King wants to keep chickens in her San Marino backyard. . . . . . . Pam King of San Marino buys lots of organic chicken  manure for her garden, but if she could keep chickens, she'd have manure -- and eggs -- on site.  . . . . . . .  . . . . . . Pam King's San Marino home has solar panels, a drought-resistant yard and an urban farm. Now she'd like some chickens to go with it. . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . The city known as the wealthiest, quietest suburban enclave in the San Gabriel Valley doesn't allow residents to keep farm animals, but that may soon change. This month King asked the San Marino City Council to allow chickens on residential properties, and council members ordered a staff report. . . . . . . . . . . . .cc . . . . . . . . . . If San Marino goes to the birds, it would join Pasadena, South Pasadena and Flintridge, which allow residents to keep fowl under strict guidelines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . In Pasadena the maximum number of chickens on a property is 10, and they cannot be kept within 50 feet of a property line. The city doesn't allow roosters more than four months old. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . South Pasadena residents have higher chicken limits, but if they have more than a dozen, the chickens must be kept at least 200 feet from the neighbors. Residents with fewer than a dozen chickens need only keep them 15 feet or more from the property line and 50 feet or more from a dwelling other than the resident's home. . . . . . . . . . . .cc . . . . . . . . . . . In La Cada most residences are limited to three chickens, though people with larger lots can have more if they house the fowl appropriately. Roosters more than two months old are prohibited. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At the San Marino City Council's direction, staffers looking into a law will pay particular attention to coop size and location, the number of chickens to allow, discouraging commercial gain and possibly requiring a permit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . King said she buys a lot of organic chicken manure for her garden and hopes to host up to six chickens in order to get a dozen eggs a week. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "I think it's a positive step to grow my own food, not rely on trucks and shipping from all over the world and make sure the stuff we're eating at this house is pretty organic," she said. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . King is among a growing number of city people who want a slice of farm life in their backyards. Websites including, and have sprung up to offer newbies advice on how to keep their fowl. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lora Hall founded Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts in August 2009 after she began keeping chickens at her Silver Lake home. . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . The group now touts 800 members who give each other advice online and meet to discuss urban farming. . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . Hall said there is spreading interest in creating legislation to allow urbanites to keep hens and roosters and to update old laws from the 1940s and '50s. . . . . . . . . cc. . . . . . . . "They're small flocks," she said. "People aren't looking for a commercial egg-laying operation. A lot of cities realize this and are making accommodations." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hall said a common mistake among chicken owners is failure to predator-proof their coops. . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . "Here in the city, we have a lot more wildlife than we see during the day," she warned. . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . Ron Kean, a poultry advisor for in Madison, Wis., said members of the group considered themselves the chicken underground until pushing the city to legalize urban chicken ownership in 2005. . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . Kean said those who think they will be able to reduce their grocery budget are in for a surprise.  "I have not talked to anybody who did this who said it saved them money," Kean said. Still, he added, "I would encourage it." . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . Hall noted that a common question is what to do with a chicken too old to produce eggs. . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . "Do you keep it as a pet? Do you run a chicken retirement home?" Hall, who has six chickens, asked. "It's important not to jump into it too fast." . . . .. . . .      

ccccFrom:   September 2013 issue... . . Earth Matters . . . . . Lots of Cluck . .. . .Yielding fresh eggs and pest control, chicken coops roost in backyards. .. . . . .Eric Schneider . .. .. Throughout major cities across the US, it’s quite common to find dogs and cats. Increasingly, though, these metropolitan pets are getting unexpected neighbors down the street—chickens are roosting in more and more urban backyards. . . . . . . . .“I like chickens because they are the easiest of pets next to a goldfish; there aren't many downsides to them,” says Katy Skinner, who started the online site about 12 years ago and raised chickens in Portland, Oregon, before relocating to Yacolt, Washington. She keeps six hens, some of which have colorful breed names such as Blue Wyandotte and Rhode Island White. . . . . . . . .Residing just outside Boston in Somerville, Massachusetts, Janet Montgomery keeps three hens in her backyard, all Red Stars, a hybrid breed known for excellent egg production and cold hardiness.       She notes that the birds require only 10 to 15 minutes of daily care and another 10 minutes every few days for coop cleaning. “They have sweet, quirky personalities and are a riot to watch as they scratch around the yard,” Montgomery says. .. . .Of course, people don’t seek out these feathered friends for cuddly companionship. The primary incentive for raising chickens is what they literally bring to the table—fresh eggs. As anyone who has bought eggs from a farm or farmer’s market knows, nothing compares to truly fresh eggs, which can be speckled, have a blue or green hue and be of different sizes. According to the USDA, eggs sold in grocery stores are still considered “fresh” up to 45 days after they were packed. And, as opposed to the pale-yellow yolks of store-bought eggs, fresh eggs often have a deep-yellow/ orange yolk and a much richer flavor. Studies have also shown that the eggs of chickens not kept on factory farms may be higher in vitamins and omega-3 fats and lower in cholesterol and saturated fat. . . . . . . . .Owen Taylor is the training and urban livestock coordinator at Just Food ( in New York City, which focuses on sustainable urban agriculture. Just Food runs the City Chicken Project, which teaches gardeners how to raise chickens. . . .cc . . . . .“Backyard chickens live healthier lives—they can scratch in the soil for critters and greenery, and they can eat your food scraps,” Taylor says. “This gives them a more balanced diet and translates into a better-tasting, healthier egg. This also means that they get exercise and are kept entertained.  . . . . . . . .Chickens in cages are prone to disease and cannibalism, which is why factory-farmed chickens are given more antibiotics and have their beaks cut. Eggs from your backyard flock come from happy, healthy hens and are better for you.” There is no clear consensus about chicken lifespans, but hens that are given proper care can live more than 10 years, while the lives of factory-farmed chickens are often measured in weeks, not years. . .  . . .Raising chickens is part of the local food movement. “I like the satisfaction of food coming from our backyard instead of the grocery store,” says Montgomery. . . .  . . .Feathered Pest Control . . . . . . . .Hens eat insects that harm plants, and their droppings are highly beneficial. “Chicken poop enriches our compost, so our garden is super-productive,” Montgomery says. “If you keep chickens, you use a lot fewer fossil fuels to make your omelet,” Taylor adds. And those scraps that chickens consume represent waste that never makes it to the landfill. . . . . . . . .Like all pets and livestock, chickens need shelter. Coops can vary widely in size and design, but always feature an enclosed or semi-enclosed area for nesting and a larger run fittingly covered by chicken wire. Montgomery says her coop is fairly small, at about 4’ x 3’ x 5’. She also lets the hens run loose in her fenced-in yard at times. . . . .cc11 . . . .A popular variation on the coop is a “chicken tractor,” which leaves the ground open for grazing and scratching. The structure is commonly mounted on wheels or light enough to move. Its mobility benefits the birds and the grass underneath them. . . . . . . . .Cities all have their own regulations regarding chickens, but the seemingly universal noise-abatement edict is “no roosters!” (Without roosters, hens lay unfertilized eggs.) However, hens can sometimes be noisy, too, particularly when they're alarmed or finished laying eggs. In many urban areas, chickens are considered pets and allowed in numbers of three or less. In New York City, “it is illegal for your chickens to make too much noise, to smell too much or to attract flies and vermin,” Taylor says. “So hens are not illegal; irresponsible chicken keepers are.” . . . . . . . .The same general rules apply in Somerville, but Montgomery emphasizes that anyone considering getting hens should check with the city first to see if it's legal to keep them as pets. One effective way to preempt possible conflicts: “Sharing eggs with the neighbors can help prevent complaints,” says Montgomery. . . . . . . . .“Keeping chickens brings your food source closer to home, and, in places where it is difficult to find fresh food, this becomes very important,” says Taylor. To which Skinner adds, “I promise keeping a few hens will be easier than keeping a dog, especially after the initial learning curve and setup.”    By raising your own chickens, you are not only providing better lives for your hens compared with their factory-farmed sisters but you are also improving your own life.

ccccFrom the Baltimore Sun newspaper. . . . . By Meredith Cohn . . . . . . . . . June 28, 2013 . . . . . URL of article:    . . . .   If you asked Josh Smith where breakfast comes from, the Baltimore teen would likely say, "the girls." That would be Sugar and Spice, his family's pet chickens. . . . . .. . . . Josh's mother, Liz, got the girls by mail order in April and set up a coop for them in the backyard of the family's Hamilton house, between a beehive and rows of planted vegetables. Josh, 13, and his brother, Hooper, 7, delight in feeding the ginger-colored birds treats of worms and melon and collecting the big, brown eggs that come two a day. . . . . .. . . . "This is how it's supposed to be," Liz Smith said as she nestled and stroked a softly clucking Sugar. "The eggs are really delicious. Though I don't think I'll ever eat chicken again after having them as pets." . . . . .. . . . . The Smiths join an increasing number of urban farmers in Baltimore and around the nation who are growing their own food to save money or to control what goes into it. Or they want to better connect with their environment. Some people have chickens as pets, but many also want the eggs or meat, or a lesson for the kids about the food chain. . . . . .. . . . . And though owning chickens in Baltimore is legal, many people are nonetheless keeping mum, lest they ruffle their neighbors' feathers.    That has made keeping track of chickens harder for officials, who have rules to address at least some of the potential health problems from waste, not to mention noise and smell.     State and city officials can't say for sure how many birds live in Maryland's urban and suburban areas, though Baltimore is working on new zoning laws to more thoughtfully account for urban agriculture and, perhaps, draw some of the growers out of the closet, er, coop. . .. . . State officials have registered 31 households in Baltimore and 626 in five surrounding counties - that includes chickens, pigeons and doves. In Baltimore, a multiple-pet permit is required from the Bureau of Animal Control, but only four residents have bothered. (Smith said the process isn't too cumbersome, though it means visits from city officers, advertising and an $80 fee.) . . . . .. . . . . . City health officials said they rarely get complaints that might prompt them to look for scofflaws. . . . . ..cccc . . . . Meanwhile, the backyard chicken movement has become a nationwide phenomenon that has given rise to Web sites, magazines and even inspired a documentary, Mad City Chickens. . .. . . . . One of the fowl Web sites,, lists 38 states and 145 cities that have laws addressing chickens. Those that allow them include San Francisco, Atlanta, Minneapolis and New York; most allow three to five birds in a coop not too close to neighbors, which can be the most difficult issue in crowded urban areas. Washington, D.C., does not allow chickens. . . .. . Baltimore allows four to be kept in movable coops at least 25 feet from any residence. The chickens must be fed, watered, sheltered and kept clean. No roosters, ducks, geese or turkeys are allowed. . . . . . .. . . . . Marilyn Bassford, Maryland's longtime poultry registration coordinator, has seen the rise in interest. She counted at least 300 new names on her list this year, bringing the total of registered flocks to 2,300 statewide. There's no way to know how many ignored or didn't know about the registration law. . . . . . .. . . . Bassford points out that chickens are big business in Maryland - particularly on the Eastern Shore, where some of the industry's principal names operate - and the state wants to keep tabs on backyard operations in case of a health emergency such as an avian influenza outbreak.      Most people say they keep backyard flocks as a hobby or as pets, she said. . . . . . .. . . . "I think with each generation, we get further away from the farm," she said. "Many people used to be able to say they had a grandma or uncle with a farm but not so much anymore. People want to get back to that a little." . . .. . . . . Baltimore officials, recognizing that times have changed, are rewriting the city's 38-year-old, 250-page book of zoning regulations. Currently, the only reference to chickens (and rabbits) is for butchers. Laurie Feinberg, in charge of the effort in the city's planning department, said officials want clear and understandable rules when it comes to urban agriculture. . . . . . .. . . . . The revised rules will focus on impacts to neighbors, such as backyard efforts that become commercial enterprises. But animals may not require any additional regulating. A draft of the revisions is expected in the fall. . . . . .. . . . "We aren't interested creating an issue where none exists," she said. "We had even joked about finally taking out the reference to chickens and rabbits, but maybe not." ..  . . . . . . . Indeed. Interest in chickens in the city and suburbs does appear to be rising. Andrew Rose of Baldwin read The Omnivore's Dilemma, which touts the benefits of locally grown foods, for his book club a few months ago and was inspired. . . .. . . . . . He also has a neighbor with chickens and enjoys getting the occasional free egg. He got plans from a Web site and began trapping and releasing raccoons farther from his yard. He's almost finished his own coop. . cc. .. . "My family is interested in raising the birds for their eggs, not meat," he said.    "My kids will name the chickens, and it is pretty hard to eat a pet that has a name." . . . . . . .  . .. . Though some people say chicken feed and waste attracts rats, and the chickens - or illegal roosters, more likely - are noisy, Michelle Brown is happy to live next to the birds. She lives in Upperco and enjoys the cackling, crowing and "ambience" of chickens owned by neighbors. Chickens, she says, imply, "You're in the country." . .. After reading books and magazine on the subject, she said her family is ready for its own chickens. . . . . .. . . . Back in Baltimore, Smith said newcomers may discover that chickens require a significant investment of time and money. . . .. . . . Start-up costs were about $1,000, which leads her to joke that each egg will cost $14 for perhaps as the long as the chickens live, eight years or more. The birds have to be fed and watered daily, and occasionally cleaned. Waste needs scooping to control odor, the coop needs moving to avoid lawn damage, and hands and eggs need washing to control a possible salmonella outbreak. . . .. . . But the affection, as with any pet, goes both ways, Smith says. And Josh adds that the eggs are like none found at the grocery. . . . .. . "They're kind of sweet," he said. "I like mine fried with bacon on the side." . . . . . . . Online resources: . . • . .. • •urbanchickenunderground . .. .  .. . Copyright  2013, The Baltimore Sun .    

ccccFrom Newsweek / issue Nov. 17, 2013.... or: The New Coop de Ville . . . . . . The craze for urban poultry farming. . . . . . . Jessica Bennett . . . . . NEWSWEEK . . . . . . . . For Brooklyn real-estate agent Maria Mackin, the obsession started five years ago, on a trip to Pennsylvania Amish country. She, her husband and three children—now 17, 13 and 11—sat down for brunch at a local bed-and-breakfast, and suddenly the chef realized she'd run out of eggs. "She said, 'Oh goodness! I'll have to go out to the garden and get some more'," Mackin recalls. "She cooked them up and they were delicious." Mackin and her husband, Declan Walsh, looked at each other, and it didn't take long for the idea to register: Could we have chickens too? They finished their brunch and convinced the bed-and-breakfast owner, a Mennonite celery farmer, to sell them four chickens.  . . . . . . They packed them in a little nest in the back of their Plymouth Voyager minivan and headed back to Brooklyn. . . . . . . The family has been raising chickens ever since, in the backyard of their brick townhouse in an urban waterfront neighborhood called Red Hook.      Every Easter, Mackin orders a new round of chicks, now from a catalog that ships the newborns in a ventilated box while they are still feeding from their yolks. When they are grown, she offers up their eggs—and occasionally extra chickens, when she decides she's got too many—to friends and neighbors, and sells a portion to a local bistro, which touts the neighborhood poultry on its Web site. She gives the chicken manure—a high-quality fertilizer—to a local community garden in exchange for hay, which she uses to pad the chickens' wire-fenced coop. Occasionally, she kills and cooks up a chicken for dinner—though, she says, her chickens are egg layers and aren't particularly tasty. "We joke and call ourselves the Red Hook Poultry Association," says the former social worker, who at one time housed 27 chicks inside her kitchen—for six weeks.   cc "Sometimes people are like, 'This is really kind of weird'." . . . . . . . As it turns out, Mackin is hardly an anomaly, in New York or any other urban center. Over the past few years, urban dwellers driven by the local-food movement, in cities from Seattle to Albuquerque, have flocked to the idea of small-scale backyard chicken farming—mostly for eggs, not meat—as a way of taking part in home-grown agriculture. This past year alone, grass-roots organizations in Missoula, Mont.; South Portland, Maine; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Ft. Collins, Colo., have successfully lobbied to overturn city ordinances outlawing backyard poultry farming, defined in these cities as egg farming, not slaughter. Ann Arbor now allows residents to own up to four chickens (with neighbors' consent), while the other three cities have six-chicken limits, subject to various spacing and nuisance regulations. . . . . . . That quick growth in popularity has some people worried about noise, odor and public health, particularly in regard to avian flu. A few years back in Salt Lake City—which does not allow for backyard poultry farming—authorities had to impound 47 hens, 34 chicks and 10 eggs from a residential home after neighbors complained about incessant clucking and a wretched stench, along with wandering chickens and feathers scattered throughout the neighborhood.  cc  "The smell got to be unbelievable," one neighbor told the local news. Meanwhile, in countries from Thailand to Australia, where bird flu has spread in the past, government officials have threatened to ban free-range chickens for fear they are contributing to outbreaks. (In British Columbia, where officials estimated earlier this year that there are as many as 8,000 chicken flocks, an avian flu outbreak four years forced the slaughter of more than 17 million birds.) . . . . . . But avian flu has not shown up in wild birds, domestic poultry or people in the United States. And, as the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute (an environmental research group) pointed out in a report last month, experts including the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production have said that if we do see it, it'll be more likely to be found in factory-farmed poultry than backyard chickens. As GRAIN, an international sustainable agriculture group, concluded in a 2006 report: "When it comes to bird flu, diverse small-scale poultry farming is the solution, not the problem." . . . .cc . . . . Many urban farmers are taking that motto to heart. In New York, where chickens (but not roosters, whose loud crowing can disturb neighbors) are allowed in limitless quantities, there are at least 30 community gardens raising them for eggs, and a City Chicken Project run by a local nonprofit that aims to educate the community about their benefits. In Madison, Wis., where members of a grass-roots chicken movement, the Chicken Underground, successfully overturned a residential chicken ban four years ago, there are now 81 registered chicken owners, according to the city's animal-services department. "There's definitely a growing movement," says 33-year-old Rob Ludlow, the Bay Area operator of and the owner of five chickens of his own. "A lot of people really do call it an addiction. Chickens are fun, they have a lot of personality. I think people are starting to see that they're really easy pets—and they actually produce something in return." . . . . . . . Because chickens can be considered both livestock and pet, farming them for eggs—or keeping them as pets—is unregulated in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. But it isn't legal everywhere. According to one recent examination by urban-agriculture expert Jennifer Blecha, just 65 percent of major cities allow chickenkeeping, while 40 percent allow for one or more roosters. (Hens don't need roosters to lay unfertilized eggs.) . . . cc. . . Chicken slaughter, meanwhile, tends to fall under a separate (and generally stricter) set of regulations, though they're not always enforced. Most cities that allow chicken farming limit the number to four or six per household, so many urban farmers aren't raising enough chickens to slaughter and sell anyway—though they may cook up a meal or two at home. If they want to slaughter more, there are mobile slaughterhouses in places like Washington state that will do the dirty work for you: USDA-approved refrigerated trucks will pull right up to your doorstep. . . . . . . Chicken farmers are finding each other on sites like, and logs some 6 million page views each month and has some 18,000 members in its forum, where community members share colorful stories (giving a chicken CPR), photos (from a California chicken show), even look to each other for comfort. "I am worried that non-BYC people won't understand why a 34-year-old woman would cry over a $7 chicken," writes a Stockton, N.J., woman, whose chicken was killed by a hawk. . . . cc. . . Over at, which launched this year, founder K. T. LaBadie, a master's student in community planning, provides updates on city ordinances, info about local chicken-farming classes and coop tours and has been contacted by activists hoping to overturn chicken bans around the nation. In Albuquerque, where she lives with her husband and four chickens—Gloria, Switters, Buffy and Omelet—residents can keep 15 chickens and one rooster, subject to noise ordinances, as well as slaughter the chickens for food. In July, LaBadie wrote in detail of her first killing: she and her husband hung the bird by its legs, slit its throat, plucked its feathers and put it on ice. Then they slow-cooked it for 20 hours. "It's not pretty, it's kinda messy, and it's a little smelly," she writes. "But it's quite real." . . . . . . Meanwhile, at, the Web site created by the Madison Chicken Underground, chat-line operator Dennis Harrison-Noonan has turned his chicken love into a mini-business: he's sold 2,000 design kits for his custom-made playhouse chicken coop, which retails for $35.    "It's really not that crazy to think that people are doing this," says Owen Taylor, the urban livestock coordinator at Just Food, which operates the New York Chicken Project. "Most of the world keeps chickens, and they've been doing so for thousands of years." . . . . . . Historically, he's right. During the first and second world wars, the government even encouraged urban farming by way of backyard "Victory Gardens" in an effort to lessen the pressure on the public food supply. (Until 1859, there were 50,000 hogs living in Manhattan, according to Blecha.) . . .  "It's really only been over the last 50 years or so that we've gotten the idea that modernity and success and urban spaces don't involve these productive animals," Blecha says. . . . . . . There are a host of reasons for the growing trend. "Locavores" hope to avoid the carbon emissions and energy consumption that come with transporting food. Chicken owners and poultry experts say eggs from backyard chickens are tastier and can be more nutritious, with higher levels of supplements like omega-3 fatty acids.     Their production cost is cheap: you can buy chickens for as little as a couple of dollars, and three hens will likely average about two eggs a day. You can also use their waste to help revitalize a garden. "There've been recalls on everything from beef to spinach, and I think people want to have peace of mind knowing their food is coming from a very trusted source," says LaBadie. "As gas prices go up, and people realize how food is connected to oil and transportation, they are bound to realize they can get a higher quality product cheaper if they get it locally." . . . . . Keeping a chicken is relatively easy, too—assuming you don't get too attached. (That's a talk Mackin says she had with her kids early: these chickens aren't pets.)cc   They'll eat virtually anything—"pork products, string cheese, even Chinese takeout," she laughs—and they feed on bugs and pests that can ruin a garden. They can withstand harsh weather conditions. (In one oft-told tale, a Maine woman lost her chicken in a blizzard and found it, a day later, frozen solid with its feet stuck straight in the air. She thawed it and administered CPR. The chicken made a full recovery.)     And much like New Yorkers, not much bothers chickens grown in urban environments. "[Those] raised in a really controlled environment like factory farms are very fragile, both physically and emotionally," says Blecha, who lives in St. Paul, Minn., with her partner and six chickens. "My chickens, I mow the lawn a foot away from them and they don't even look up from their pecking." . . . . . . But even urban chickens, who can live more than five years, can die easily: from predators like dogs or possums, catching a cold or sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Once, one of Mackin's chicks got stuck in a glue trap. She drowned it, to put it out of its misery. "That was really sad," she says. (Mackin doesn't name her chickens, for that very reason.) . . . . . But the overall experience seems to be positive for everyone. "We have people calling weekly to say, 'This is really cool'," says Patrick Comfert, a spokesman for Madison's animal-services department, where the chicken ban was reversed in 2004. "Chicken people love it, the neighbors don't care, we have no complaints." Minneapolis enthusiast Albert Bourgeois sums up the appeal. "Chickens are really fun pets," he says. His flock is named Cheney, Condi, Dragon, Fannie and Freddie. The next one, he says, will be Obama.


ccccThursday, September 11, 2013  . . . .. . ROBIN FRANZEN  . .. . . . The Oregonian Staff  . .. . . . Rules of roost challenged  . .  . . Jill Moss wants her chickens back, but first she has to get the Gresham City Council to change an ordinance ..  .  . . . GRESHAM, OREGON -- Once or twice a day, Jill Moss trudges up a path to a neighbor's house in Gresham to visit her itinerant "girls,"  Lacey, Goldilocks, Jellybean, Gumdrop, Cocoa and Chocolate . . . . . . Moss peeks inside their nesting boxes for eggs, delights in their gentle clucking -- a sound that's been noticeably missing from her own backyard since July, when the city took a complaint about her birds and evicted them as scofflaw fowl . . . . .  . "We miss them . . .They are our pets," Moss said last week, as the hens strutted inside a fenced enclosure provided by a sympathetic friend . . . . . . . That's where they've laid low -- legally -- since the city told Moss to move the birds from her property this summer . . . . . . Now Moss is fighting to bring them home . . . . . On Sept .2, she presented a passionate treatise on the environmental and health benefits of chicken-rearing to the Gresham City Council, including letters of support from neighbors and fowl-friendly organizations, with the hope of persuading elected officials to loosen the city's chicken-keeping rules . . . . . She's also documenting her "chicken fight" on her personal blog, at . . . cc. . .Three years ago, Moss says, Gresham officials told her it was OK to keep chickens in her suburban neighborhood if they didn't bother anyone . . . . . . . The city wouldn't enforce its decades-old rules requiring a 100-foot buffer between a coop and adjoining properties unless someone balked . . . . . . .After all, chicken-keeping was already becoming popular in urban Portland, roughly a dozen blocks away from Moss' home . . . ."I've always wanted a farm, but I can't afford a farm," Moss said . . . . . . . "Then, I thought, hey, maybe this is something I could do."  . . . . . So her husband built a barn-style coop in their spacious backyard -- they live on one-fifth of an acre -- and the black and golden birds quickly settled into the family . . . . . . . For several years, the Mosses collected two dozen eggs a week, without outcry from anyone . . . . . . . The birds ate bugs from the yard and gobbled up table scraps, Moss said, turning it into chemical-free fertilizer for their yard . . . . . Her daughter, Carina, now 11, even became known as the family "chicken whisperer" because of her connection to the animals . . . . In July, however, peace flew the coop . . . . . . . Moss' next-door neighbor, Jim Brischle, demanded that the city enforce its buffer law because the chickens woke him up in the morning and smelled bad . . . . . . . "I cried for 45 minutes," Moss recalled when she got the city removal notice, suspecting her neighbor's objection really had more to do with her cat wandering into his yard than her six hens . . . . . . "And then I said 'No, that's not right . . . . . . . That's not what's going to happen.' "  . . . . To avoid an immediate fine, the chickens had to go -- not far, just to a friend's house two doors away where the buffer requirement could be met because the lot borders a green space . . . . . . . But Moss, a media assistant at Lynch Meadows Elementary School, decided she was going to fight to change the law . . . . . . . Over the next month, she researched her case and lobbied elected officials, arguing that Portland's requirements, calling for a 25-foot buffer, were a lot more reasonable . . . . . . . People at City Hall started referring to her as "the chicken lady," she laughed . . . . . . . Then came her council presentation, which won her praise for professionalism . . . . . .Mike Abbate, the city's recently hired planning director, calls Moss' approach "savvy." He also acknowledges that Gresham's current poultry-keeping regulations make it hard to find any lot large enough in the city to legally keep chickens . . . . . . . It's been five to 10 years since those rules have been reviewed, he said, but the City Council will have to decide if it wants to make changing them a priority . . . . . . .Already, Moss has an ally in City Council President Paul Warr-King, who thinks it makes sense to make Gresham's rules consistent with Portland's whenever possible . . cc. . . . . He said he was impressed with her research and sees lots of benefits from hens, though he favors a ban on noisy roosters . . . . . . ."People like them," Warr-King said of chickens, noting that his daughter keeps a flock in Portland's Hawthorne district . . . . . . . "I've never heard a complaint before this."  . . . . Chickens, as it turns out, ruffle few feathers . . . . . . . The city's code enforcement office logged six poultry-related violations in 2007 and eight so far this year, said supervisor Eric Schmidt . . . . . . . Fines for noncompliance run about $200 per month . . . . ."Sometimes we'll get anonymous calls about chickens running down the road," but it's not a big issue, Schmidt said . . . . . . . Sometimes neighbors use the city's chicken rules as ammunition in disputes having nothing to do with chickens, he said, but he had no idea if that was the case here . . . . . Brischle, the neighbor who lodged a complaint with the city, said Monday that he wasn't inclined to discuss the situation with The Oregonian but did plan to lobby in the opposite direction -- for an even larger buffer protecting neighbors from coops . . . . . . . He lodged a second complaint in August after Moss temporarily brought one of the chickens back to her yard because it was pecking its flock-mates at the new location . . . . . ."I'd like the rules adhered to," Brischle said . . . . . . . "The chickens wake me up at 6 a.m . . . . . . . in May and June . . . . . . . And they smell."  . . . . . Robin Franzen: 503-294-5943;


ccccHeraldNet, of Everett, Washington mentions in this article from August 21, 2013: . . . A chicken in every yard?  Why not? . . . By Debra SmithHerald Columnist . . . . I'll admit it: I have pro-chicken leanings. . . . . . Five years ago I would have dismissed backyard hens as a throwback to farm life that should probably be left there. . . . . . Since then, by chance, my job has taken me to suburban homes with backyard hens. What I've found is that a few properly cared for hens (minus the cock-a-doodle-doo rooster) are clean and quiet enough that you wouldn't know they were there laying eggs on the other side of the fence. . . . . . Chickens suffer from a PR problem. People think chickens are dirty, noisy and smelly. The truth? A few cared-for hens are cleaner and quieter than one big dog or the three neighbor cats that poop in the flower beds. Plus you get eggs. . . . . . Maybe because of those negative associations, cities in Snohomish County have vastly different regulations for chickens. In Everett, you can keep up to six hens but no rooster. Just across the border in Mukilteo, no hens are allowed at all. You also can't start a flock in Edmonds or Lynnwood. Keep in mind that the most densely developed and urban of our area cities, Seattle, allows three hens. . . . . . . Can hens be smelly and dirty? You bet. So can dogs, cats, parakeets, rabbits and hamsters, when an owner keeps too many and doesn't care for them. Nearly all the city codes in the county have a provision that prohibits animals from becoming a public nuisance. Presumably, people who don't take care of their flock could be handled under these provisions. . . . . . I bring all this up because more people are interested in keeping a few backyard hens for eggs. At least that's what Joan DeVries has noticed. She works for the Washington State University's Livestock Advisor Program, which provides education for people who want to raise farm animals. . . . . . People who raise a few hens probably won't be saving money on eggs or meat, but they will know it's safe and of good quality, and that's what most people who want to raise them are concerned with, she said. . . cc. . . Part of her job is educating the public at venues such as the Evergreen State Fair. She's continually surprised by how removed many of us are from nature. She has met children who can't recognize a goat. It's not just the kids, either. . . . . . On the other end of the spectrum is Emmett Wild, a 4-H phenom with more blue ribbons and trophies than Michael Phelps. The 17-year-old from Lakewood raises, breeds and shows poultry. He keeps not only chickens, but rare ducks and homing pigeons. Emmett keeps nearly 100 birds, but he also lives in a rural area and his family has enough property. . . . . . .Emmett said kids who would like to get into chickens should find a local breeder and start with good chicks. He breeds and promotes heritage breeds. He suggested attending the Cascade Spring Show in March at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds to talk with breeders. . . . . . His father, Ken Wild, said 4-H has provided a supportive environment and it's a good step for families interested in raising chickens. He said raising chickens helps instill responsibility. Emmett's involvement in 4-H has certainly made him knowledgeable. I quizzed him on everything from composting to breeding. He is considering a career in sustainable agriculture. . . . . . . If you'd like more information on chickens, consider subscribing to "Backyard Poultry" magazine or reading "Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces" by Barbara Kilarski or "Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens" by Gail Damerow. . . . . . Two information-packed Web sites contain good information for backyard chicken keeping as well as plenty of photos of moveable coops appropriate for small yards: and . . . . Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or Visit her blog at  


Dear Katy…Your site is a gas.  My husband was pulled into it yesterday and couldn't seem to 

get back to what he was doing.  You have such a great attitude and ‘voice!’    ---- Tracy M., Hawaii

ccccFollowing article from the August/September issue, 2013, by Katy Skinner of www .TheCityChicken.Com.   It makes sense to keep some hens in your backyard. Chickens eat your household food waste; up to nine pounds per chicken per month. The municipality of Diest in Flanders, Belgium gave 2,000 households free chickens so that they could reduce the waste stream. Personally, I can’t stand being   without a few chickens in the backyard for long. Being without them means I have to throw all my food scraps into the garbage, and that makes me feel guilty. With chickens I put all food scraps into a small bucket I keep on my kitchen counter, it’s fed to the hens, and it’s turned into new food; eggs.  . . . . Laws in Your Community . . . . . But is keeping chickens in your backyard legal? In the old days, of course you could keep chickens. Probably most people did. Nowadays, there are actually laws on the books expressly addressing chickens in most cities. Many city codes say it is legal to keep chickens in one’s yard and just as many say that it is illegal. Conveniently, most cities have their “city codes” on the Internet these days. People can easily search for “chickens” or “poultry” within those codes. Also found on the Internet is which city department governs poultry issues. In Portland, Oregon for example, the keeping of chickens is handled by the “vector control” office, the same department that handles mosquito and rat control, as well as unlawful yard debris disposal and old tire piles. In other cities, it falls under the duties of the county animal control department. And here’s a helpful hint; if you telephone one of these city departments, and the first person you talk to—say, a receptionist or secretary—tells you in no uncertain terms that chickens are illegal to keep where you live…keep on researching to double-check. I have had a number of folks tell me that people supposedly in the know have given them wrong information. . . . .  Is Keeping Chickens in the City Legal? Well, That Depends on Where You Live . . . . .  When keeping poultry in the city, there are basically two tacks you can take; try to get the law changed, or keep chickens “illegally.” If you want to try to change the law on the books, first do your research. Christine Heinrichs, SPPA Publicity Director, and author of How to Raise Chickens, lays out some great guidelines for working to get an ordinance changed. Visit MadCityChickens website: for details. cc Commit to the idea that you might be in for a long haul. You will have to write proposals and present them at your city hall meetings, possibly a number of times. Get as many people as possible to support your cause. Many cities have gotten their chicken laws changed in just this way. Some folks keep hens in their backyard even though their city codes say it’s prohibited. Keeping an attractive or unobtrusive coop like these examples may help to prevent ruffled feathers. Take steps to be courteous, keep the number of chickens low, don't keep roosters, set your small coop near the house or garage wall, keep the coop clean so that odors are not detected, and never let the chickens out to roam free. If you choose this option, be prepared for the headache and heartache, of being reported by a neigbor or somone else that won't like your birds.  . . . . Change the Laws in Your Community or Go Underground - - As an example, in Topeka, Kansas, an unlimited number of chickens are allowed, but chickens must be penned 50 feet from any neighboring house, whereas in Houston, Texas chickens must be kept 100 feet from neighboring structures, which pretty much rules out chicken-keeping for anyone who lives on less than half an In Santa Fe, New Mexico, unlimited chickens are allowed but there are no details on the books other than that. In Little Rock, Arkansas, up to four chickens are allowed per household. In New York City, chickens are considered pets under the health code. Unlimited number of hens are allowed there but no roosters or other types of poultry. In Chicago, Illinois you can have an unlimited number of chickens if their use is only for pets or eggs, and the city code stipulates you cannot raise them if their use is to slaughter. Quite different from the old days! In Detroit, Toledo, and Sacramento, the laws state that chicken-keeping is not allowed at all. Q. I had a neighbor write me an anonymous letter telling me that my three hens are too noisy, are bothering them when they try to sleep, and they are going to call animal control. What should I do? A. Hens can be noisy sporadically, and if the chickens are anywhere near a sensitive sleeping person, they might indeed be bothering someone. In my own personal opinion, I think barking dogs can be far more bothersome than cackling hens, which only cackle for short bursts lasting usually under a minute, the max a few times per day, and none at all after sun set. Whereas dogs can go on barking jags that last a half an hour or more, and often after dark.    This neighbor of yours has probably written letters to other neighbors about their dogs or radios, etc., since it sounds like they are sensitive to noises and are prone to write letters. You’re probably not being singled out. But sometimes letters are the easiest way to address a concern. You are doing the right thing in researching and knowing the laws on chicken-keeping in your neighborhood. The bothered neighbor may indeed call animal control to find that you are keeping chickens completely legally. At my old house, we had to actually have a permit to keep chickens, which I had. So once when a neighbor said something about my chickens, I was able to say, “I have a permit; would you like to see it?” (I had complained about their dog coming into my yard and leaving poops a lot and instead of apologizing, they said they were going to call the cops on my chickens.) What I personally would do would be to put my two or three hens in a mobile “chicken tractor” and move them to the other side of the house. ccThis way, you will probably be moving them away from the sensitive neighbor.  My solution is to compromise as best as possible, and for me this is keeping the chickens in a coop that can be moved to other parts of the yard if needed due to a complaint. I make an effort to meet all my neighbors. I bring them half a dozen fresh chicken eggs with my card on it, which has my phone number and e-mail address, and I ask the neighbors if my chickens can be heard and if they are ever bothersome to please feel free to let me know. Yes, I really do this! Last year, even with just three hens currently, I was able to give all of my six immediate neighbors a half a dozen eggs every once in awhile throughout the summer.  I have also received e-mails from people who have done the above but have still been turned in by neighbors, and have been asked to get rid of their illegal chickens. I feel this is sad, since the majority of pet housecats are allowed to roam at large which is illegal, yet most of this goes unreported. I truly feel for people who have been cited and told their chickens must be removed.     Fortunately, this doesn’t happen all that often; most of the time chickens are left undetected on private property, or are tolerated by the majority of neighbors. The worst case scenario is that you are keeping chickens illegally, the neighbors won’t let up and won’t compomise, the authorities have been ticketing you, and you have a deadline to remove your chickens. In this case, I personally advocate being a law-abider and selling your chickens, at least for now. Then if you can, work with your city council to change the chicken laws.  

ccccArticle from . . . . There Will Be Chicken Blood . . . . The gritty truth about urban farming. . . . .By L.E. Leone . . . . Posted Wednesday, June 4, 2013, at 12:58 PM ET . . . . URL: . . . . My chickens, I like to think, are the most highly entertained chickens in the world. I sunbathe with them, hang out in the bushes with them, and sing to them. When they hear me sing my one cover, "St. Louis Blues," they know to be nervous. "I hate to see ... that evening sun go down," I croon. And they get goose bumps. They seem to know that when that evening sun does go down, one of them will lose her head. . . . . . I'm a sweet girl, I swear! Every time, I cry like crazy. It's not easy to swing the ax, but I do; then I kneel in the dirt, holding the body still while it flutters, and hyperventilate. It doesn't take that long. There's never as much blood as I think there's going to be, either, which is vaguely disappointing. If I'm going to kill what I love, I want as much as possible to show for it, including ruined clothing. . . . . . I can't stop singing about, or writing about, chickens. I also can't stop reading about them, because whenever people come across anything in the media relating to my feathery friends, they e-mail it to me. There's been a lot of ink spilled lately (in the New York Times, among other publications) on city chickens and the urban farming movement. Yes, movement. Whether they're screw-you-ing the chicken or the egg industries (or, of course, both), next-gen farmers seem to have read Michael Pollan very carefully.   They are hip, young, smart, liberal-arts-college graduates, green in many senses of the word, wearing stiff new overalls and chewing on only organic, free-range, locally grown straw, racing outside to move their tractors for street-sweeping. They are locavores, homesteaders, part of a revolution. They are saving the environment, making a statement. And if they eat their own, they tend to see the killing as an unpleasant downside—a tradeoff for the clear conscience that comes with cage-free, hormone-free, factory-free gumbo. . . . . . Manny Howard, who chronicled his experience subsistence farming in Brooklyn for New York magazine, described his poultry harvest as "tedious and grotesque work." Afterward, he "laid down on the driveway with three bottles of beer." Even Herrick Kimball, author of the great How To Butcher a Chicken blog, admits to being "grossed out by the whole thing" at first. "That is the typical modern reaction," he writes. Many of the other Web pages devoted to urban chicken farming say nothing at all about butchering. ccAt sites like, you can learn about coop construction, hatching eggs, feeding, protecting, and diagnosing chickens. Everything, in short, except what is for me the most satisfying part: the bloodying. . . . . . In some cities you can take classes in chicken farming—proof that these next-geners are most enthusiastic about the theoretical aspects of agriculture. Peat Willicutt teaches such a course in Minneapolis. How to lop off heads is not a part of the curriculum, per se, he told me, although students do ask. And if they ask, he tells them. In some cases, he shows them. But not in the classroom. Blood and guts are extracurricular activities. The students in Willicutt's urban chicken farming course, which fills to capacity every time it's offered, run the gamut from what he calls "pet-oriented" to what I call pot-oriented. It is in deference to the former that Willicutt doesn't draw blood in the classroom. . . . . .But I wonder whether pet farmers know that chickens get sick and hurt, and that sometimes killing can be an act of mercy. Even in cities, chickens have predators. On 29th Street in San Francisco, hungry, street-smart raccoons used to line up on my roof, staring at the hens I kept under my deck, waiting for me to slip one night and leave their door open. In the woods, where I live now, I have monkey-wrenched the dinner plans of foxes and bobcats, and I can't honestly say that my farmerly instinct for intervention was ever in the chickens' best interest. It was in my best interest, because I don't want predators thinking of my coop as a three-star restaurant. Once word gets around the animal kingdom that you're serving chicken, your life becomes a Saturday morning cartoon, and then forget about ever getting anything done. . . . . . .Worst-case scenario: I talked a fox out of a hen recently, and as far as I could tell, the hen was not hurt. No blood, nothing broken, hardly even any feathers missing. She seemed as if she was in shock, so I waited for her to snap out of it. For hours she wouldn't eat or drink or move. She just stood there, like me. I can't say what was going through her little mind, but mine was wondering whether Jack Kevorkian ever kept chickens. Meanwhile, very, very slowly, she died. I should have helped her along, saved her some suffering. I should have Dr. Deathed her. . . . . . ."It behooves everyone to once in their life take part in the killing of their meat," Willicutt told me. "I don't really have mixed feelings. I've made my peace with it. It's an essential evil of omnivores." . . . . . . I can vouch for "essential." I can vouch for "omnivore." My brain and my body crave meat with my salad. In fact, I think I might die without it. For sure I'd go crazy. But, personally, I don't know about "evil." I'll own it: There's a part of me that likes to kill. When I do what I do with a hatchet and a chicken, I feel like crap, and I feel like God. I feel alive and in love and closer than ever to death. So I guess that is, for me, mixed feelings, yes. And the mix itself is welcome and intensely gratifying. In fact, it's almost too much. Too swirly, too soupy. I can tell you that the part of this swirl which seems "good," as opposed to "evil," has absolutely nothing to do with foiling the chicken industry or saving the environment or taking personal responsibility for my role in the food chain. It has to do with getting a little bit bloody and gross, like the complicated, hungry animal that I am.

 . . . . .From page 38 of the April/May 2013 issue of ‘Backyard Poultry Magazine,’ written by Katy Skinner . . . . . . .Raising Chickens in the City . . . . . .I am the author of website. I started my website about 10 years ago. Who knew then that it would lead me to be interviewed by newspapers, The Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and even be asked to teach chicken-keeping classes! The idea behind the site was to motivate city and suburban dwellers to try keeping a few hens in their backyards, because they’ll find it easier than they imagined!  . .cccc . . is a simple website. I don’t know enough about computers to make it any more sophisticated than it is. Nevertheless, we’re still getting about 500 visits per day, and I am even able to sell a few ads on the site. About eight years ago, when my first son Bert was born, my husband and I bought our first house. Built in 1929, it was a fixer-upper, but had a big yard, andstill only 64 blocks from downtown Portland, Oregon. I enjoyed fixing up the house and gardening, and I knew I wanted to keep some chickens even thought we were in the big city. My mother kept a flock or two of chickens over the years when I was growing up, so I knew that keeping chickens was fairly simple. You just go to the feed store in the spring and pick up some day-old chicks. . . . . . Don’t worry, I’m not going to now tell you that I was na?ve and didn’t know how much work chickens were; they’re not! There is no surprise here; chickens are easy and fun. As far as pets go, they are among the easiest you’ll find. Sure, there’s a learning curve, but the manifesto at the top of my website asserts just that; You, too, can keep some chickens in your backyard. Just go for it. In contrast, I would not encourage people to “just go for” buying a dog. Too many people already do that. Dogs and even cats simply take more time, energy, money and commitment than do chickens. The pages of are peppered with reader’s feedback, telling me the site gave them the impetus to start keeping chickens.  . . . started out as me just wanting to document my chicken-keeping endeavors. All I did at first was take some snapshots and when they came back from the developers, put them in the scanner and then upload them to some free picture hosting space on the internet. Nowadays, I have a digital camera, but back then I just occasionally put up pictures of chicken coops I built, or a picture of my kids and I with the chickens. That habit very, very gradually grew into a regular website, complete with things like “frequently asked questions” and picture galleries.  . . . . .Does anyone out there go to sleep thinking about how to build another chicken coop? I do, and it works better than counting sheep. It might sound like I’m obsessed with chickens, but ironically, the opposite is true. I like chickens because they are a pet I don’t have to worry about all the time. Do you need to to take them to obedience classes? No. Do you have to worry that they will bite the mailman? No. Take them to the vet? Neuter them? Groomers? Licensing fees? Boarding kennel when you go on a trip? All no. Conversely, does a dog eat your old lettuce? All your kitchen scraps? Eat your weeds and bugs? Give you ferilizer for the garden? Lays eggs? No, a cat or dog does not. I’ve had dogs, and will get a dog again someday, but right now, I get my pet needs met by chickens.  . . . . . So let’s start with the very first thing a future urban chicken-keeper needs: Motivation! Many of the e-mails I get about chickens are from people who live in the city and don’t have chickens yet, but want to take the plunge. is geared towards showing how chicken-keeping is simple and how getting a few baby chicks in the spring is not intimidating. For example, I keep my chick-rearing instructions down to one page in length, and suggest readers print out that one page and take it to the feed store with them.  . . . . Here are a few frequently-asked questions from  . . . . .Q.  “When you say you can raise chickens in the city, you really mean in the suburbs, right? One can’t raise chickens in a high rise apartment.”     A. I raised a hen from a baby chick when I lived in an apartment once. It was a bantam breed and so only grew as large as a parrot, which people keep as pets all the time, and chickens can live outside. Except unlike a parrot, my species of bird would eat my kitchen scraps and give me eggs. I kept it in a cage meant for a rabbit, and it took up less space than a dog kennel, and I put the cage out on the patio at times. The only thing I would do differently is raise two chicks at a minimum, as one chick gets lonely. I personally think it’s not too nice to keep a dog cooped up in an apartment, and people do that all the time. It might mean a change of thinking, but why couldn’t city folks keep pets that are super practical and give them fresh eggs?  . . . You could collect the chicken droppings, compost them in a small container, and then put them in your planters on your patio where you are growing some tomatoes or flowers. That said, yes, it would be easier if you had even a little plot of grass to place your chicken coop on. And that’s why has a picture gallery of over 100 pictures of small, movable chicken coops called “tractors” that would be ideal for the suburban chicken owner. FYI; in the UK they call chicken tractors “arks.” . . . . . .Q.  “I do like the chicken tractor idea, but they’d also need a regular hen house and pen, right?” A. In a word, no. My chicken pen housing situation evolved. I’ve used chicken tractors successfully but then tried all sorts of other ways. I used a dog kennel once in part because it was given to me free. Basically, you use as housing that which works. And that would be some shelter that keeps the chickens dry and relatively draft free, and predator proof. A chicken tractor, depending on how long you built it, could house up to 5 or more hens. Chicken tractors are perfect for city folks’ chickens, and a small one could house two or three hens; the number of hens I think first-timers should start with in a very small space. Chicken tractors are inherently predator resistant, and for chickens “predator” mainly means raccoons and stray dogs. I have had hawks swoop down on my chickens before but they can’t get in to a chicken tractor. In the country, some chicken keepers have had to string electric wire around their chicken coops, but in the city and with a chicken tractor, that isn’t needed. tractor gallery hopefully will inspire your first coop. Be sure to park your chicken tractor near a window so you can have fun watching your chickens.  

 . . . . . From the October 2013 issue of Sunset Magazine. . . . . . . .Great wine, naturally . . . . . .From cosmic forces to chickens, winegrowers embrace nature to make wines full of character  . . . . . . .by Sara Schneider . . . . . . .When the moon is full at Ce?go Del Lago on the north shore of California's Clear Lake, things begin to happen around the vineyard. . . . . . . . . . . .Not ghostly things; rather, vines are pruned and wines are blended. . . . . . . . . . . .When the moon's dark, there's different activity. . . . .. . . .The wines are racked — siphoned off the sediment in the bottom of the barrels.. . . .  . . . . .The lunar activity isn't lunacy. . . . . . . . .It's part of the biodynamic farming system that Jim Fetzer, owner of Cego, and a growing number of other winemakers are committing to, including Robert Sinskey and Quintessa in Napa, and Benziger, Quivira, and DeLoach in Sonoma County. . . . . . .  . .They practice biodynamic methods because it's the right thing to do for the land, and also because they believe it infuses their wines with the most vivid terroir, the Holy Grail of winemakers, the essence of the place where the grapes were grown.. . . . .  . . . .A full moon is a great levitating force: The power that lifts tides in the oceans of the world also pulls moisture up in grapevines and flavors out in wine lots, so it's the best time to cut back vigorous vines and make informed blending decisions. . . . .  . . . .And when the moon goes dark and Earth's gravity holds complete sway, the sediment in barrels stays put during racking. . . . . . . . . .As Jim Fetzer, owner of Ce?go, puts it, "Would you try to paddle upstream when the tide is going out?". . . . . .   . . . . . .Biodynamic methods go far beyond what you can't do in organicland (that is, use no synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides) to what you can do to make a vineyard a fully alive, completely self-sustaining ecosystem. . .. . . . . . .Like making sure that many things are growing there, because biodiversity is key to soil health and pest management. . . . . .. . . .At Cego, the vines share the property with lavender, olive trees, and other edibles. . . . . . . . . . .Crop rotation is also important. . . . . . . . . .But since it's a tad impractical to switch out grapevines, cover crops — fava beans, strawberry clover — are rotated.. . . . . . . . . . . .The fertilizer on a biodynamic farm is "green" too. . . . . . .. . .In the vineyards, some of it is dropped directly — by sheep and chickens. . . . . . . . .The Cego hens live in style: They have a mini mobile home that gets pulled here and there, giving them a place to sleep and lay their eggs (which you can buy in the tasting room). . . . . . .  . .Combining animal and plant lives is key to a holistic biodynamic operation.. . . . . . . . . .The real science and lore of biodynamic winegrowing, though, rest in a handful of preparations applied at very specific times and some in seemingly peculiar ways. . . . .  . . . .For example, ground-up quartz crystals are sprayed over the vines in the morning to refract the sun and boost photosynthesis, and manure is packed into the horn of a cow and buried in the garden from the fall to the spring equinox, before being made into a microbe-rich spray.. . . . . . . . . .All of which seemed mystical to Fetzer at first. . . . .  . . . .The sight of someone stirring a crock of manure to pack into a cow's horn conjured up witches in his head. . . . . . . . .But now it feels like smart farming — working with the forces of nature rather than wresting crops from the ground.. . . . . .. . . . . .He still can't explain why burying that manure in a female cow's horn, during the equinox in the fall, creates livelier microbial life in the soil. . . . . . . . . .But the result is measurable. . . . . . . . .. .And the latest Cego Merlot is more expressive of the land than ever — that part's tasteable. . . . . . . . .So why not dig under a full moon?


 . . . . .Article from . . . . . . . Keeping chickens in the backyard, by Denise Flaim . . . . . .Newsday. . . . . . . . Jul. 23, 2013  . . . . . . This isn't your grandmother's Rhode Island red. . . . . . . . . . Chickens, it turns out, aren't just for the barnyard anymore. Last summer, the Wall Street Journal christened the clucker "the pet of choice among some of the McMansion set," noting that in some social circles, it was the size of your coop that really mattered. . . . . . . . . And now Barbara Kilarski has demystified all things fair and fowl with her new book, "Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces" (Storey Publishing, $16.95). . . . . . . . . Kilarski, the daughter of European farmers, grew up in Los Angeles hearing all kinds of "barnyard lore." Eventually, she moved to Portland, Oregon, where she and her husband bought a bungalow with a thriving vegetable garden. One day, on a walk through her neighborhood, "I heard some clucking," she remembers. "Someone has chickens,' I thought. Why can't I?' " . . . . . . . . To Kilarski, the rewards were obvious: Chickens would strip her organic garden of pesky bugs, provide manure for fertilizer and lay fresh eggs. . . . . . . . . So, three years ago, she acquired "The Girls," as she collectively calls them. (Individually, they are known as Zsa Zsa, Lucy and Whoopee.) But first she did her homework - a must for anyone who wants to raise livestock in a nonrural setting. . . . . . . . "After making sure it was legal, I talked to my neighbors to make sure it was OK with them. Some eyebrows went up, but no one objected," says Kilarski, who notes that noise problems occur when roosters are brought into the picture. For that reason, many municipalities bar them, while allowing their less vociferous female counterparts. . . . . . . . Kilarski didn't think the hens would have a capacity for affection. And while they are not as cuddly as some of their furry counterparts, she likens her chickens to "big fat parakeets," with an "amusingly funny" streak. . . . . . . . . "While they're not wired for affection in the same way as cats and dogs, they sure do love you in their way. And while they don't give kisses, I find their complete trust in me endearing," Kilarski says, recounting her favorite PDA - poultry display of affection. "When we're out in the yard reading the Sunday paper, it's not unusual for a hen to jump on the back of a lawn chair and pull our hair gently." . . . . . . Her chickens are more subdued with company, she notes, "unless the company comes holding a big piece of bread. That breaks down all sorts of social barriers." .  . . . . . . . . "Keep Chickens!" is a thorough primer for anyone "thinking chicken," as Kilarski puts it. The book covers everything from the minimum dimensions of a coop to the recommended breeds for backyard laying. (Plymouth Rocks, you'll learn, are prolific in the egg department.) . . . . . . . Her personal obsession aside, Kilarski thinks cities and chickens are a natural pairing. "It's perfectly fitting, especially post 9/11, when people started thinking about quality of life and harkening back to simpler times." . . . . . . . To be sure, there are drawbacks to Chickendom. The cluckers can attract vermin such as rats, although Kilarski says maintaining a clean coop and storing feed in airtight containers cuts down significantly on unwanted visitors. Also, good-size hens can trample a well-tended garden, so Kilarski allows hers to range for a limited time - usually an hour before sunset, when they aren't tempted to dig dust holes to cool off. . . . . . .With a life expectancy of seven to 10 years (and sometimes longer), Kilarski's chickens are here to stay for quite some time to come. And that's fine by her. "They are a great source of conversation and conviviality," she says, painting a pastoral urban scene. "And I like seeing them floating on the green lawn, taking sun baths under the butterfly bush."


 . . . . . . . . . . . . The Seattle Times. . . . . . . . Article, “Custom Coops”. . . . . . . .. . . . From penthouse perches to covered porches, city chickens are sitting pretty. . . . . . . . . . . . Written by Paula Bock, Photographs by Harley Soltes.. .. . . . . . . . . . . If I were a chicken, I'd want to live in Seattle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . As an urban chicken, you enjoy all the benefits of cosmopolitan Northwest living — without having to worry about the high cost of housing. (Poultry, here and everywhere, typically don't invest much thought in the vagaries of the real-estate market.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Overcrowding wouldn't pose a problem because a city ordinance limits outdoor pets to three per household. Even in a small backyard, that's estate-size space. Especially compared to the residential density endured by country cousins who are commercially grown and forcibly crammed into tenement squawk boxes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Key word here is Pet. Means you'll likely live out your natural life in a lovingly constructed custom home. Doesn't guarantee a Chicken McMansion, but sure beats the soup pot. (Castle du poulet trumps chicken cassoulet!) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Most folks who keep urban fowl say they raise the birds for spiritual sustenance rather than the meat. They find peace in watching their feathered friends scrabble and strut. They share organic eggs with neighbors. They take extraordinary delight in harvesting poultry poop for their garden.  . . . . This seven-part poultry compound near the Burke-Gilman Trail in northeast Seattle features a "chicken tractor," a wire enclosure alternated between raised beds so hens can weed and fertilize multiple planting areas. The Egg McMansion was built by Ray Nichol and his 12-year-old daughter Robin as a summer project. Even though they used cedar, a building material evocative of Northwest architecture, they designed the coop to look more like a thatched cottage in rural England or Asia.. . . .. . . . . . . . "Not to sound like a big hippie . . . but now that people are in this urban environment, they're searching for something to get back in touch with the earth," says Phil Megenhardt, city chicken instructor for Seattle Tilth. "I sort of teach it as a chicken-empowerment class." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Seattle may be the nation's only major metropolis to offer layfolks formal education in fowl fundamentals. In three years, Megenhardt graduated about 300 people from his course. This year's class, taught by Power Point whiz Amy Hagopian, was standing-room-only. If each chicken fancier went on to establish a flock and followed the three-chicken rule, that would add up to 1,000 chickens amongst us. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The actual poultry population is probably much larger since city officials, in recent years, have been too preoccupied with riots and traffic jams to enforce the chicken clause. Into this unregulated atmosphere, a profusion of creative coops has cropped up. . . . . . . . . . . . Perhaps it's because permits are not required for coop construction. Or maybe the hen houses are a reaction to the '90s boom of faux chateau boasting marble bathrooms grand enough to host G-8 summits. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Then again, among the composting crowd, chicken coops may serve as a simplicity status symbol. Call it pullet prestige. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Several of the Northwest's most important examples of coop design are showcased every year in the Seattle Tilth Chicken Coop Tour, a self-guided stroll through urban hen houses. Notable coops include a traditional Cape gazebo, a modern condo topped by a penthouse, a Wild West Saloon and an architect-designed chalet with cedar framing, galvanized steel roof and hinged Lexan windows in classic four-pane pattern. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The luxury home tour, Street of Dreams, may give visitors an excuse to indulge in velvet voyeurism under the guise of looking for practical ideas. But the Tilth Tour offers even more insight into neighbors' intimate habits: How often they change their straw bedding. Who keeps a rooster on the side. Secret spots where hens prefer to lay their eggs. . . . .. . . . . . . . . Not all of the featured chicken houses are poultry palaces. Some nod to practical considerations, such as ease of cleaning. Others have an environmental focus. Several lean toward low-budget construction. A few just lean. . . .. . . . . . . . After their greyhounds died of cancer, the Nichol family decided they wanted low-maintenance pets. Joan considered goats (not enough room in the city) before settling on chickens. Ray and 12-year-old Robin took on coop construction as this year's father-daughter summer project. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . With its whimsical notched shingles, this classy chicken compound echoes the thatched-roof theme of Ray's nearby toolshed, which has traditional bulging "eyebrows" over the windows as in English country cottages. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "I didn't want it to look real Northwest," Ray says. "I wanted an Asian look, a European look." . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . Not only does the trapezoidal roof shape and cascading ridgeline lend a pagoda quality, the roofs are modular and can be removed. In fact, the whole coop easily disassembles. Ray trained as a draftsman at an all-boys British military school and is now a photography instructor at the Art Institute of Seattle. He designed the cottage compound in his head and built it with daughter Robin in about a week's worth of time spread over a couple months. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "I have no idea how much it cost, and don't care," he says. "Chickens could care less. But if you're going to have them as pets, it's not much of a leap to make their habitat something you can enjoy looking at that becomes part of the architecture of the yard, rather than an old doghouse." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chicken owner Ann Fittante claims she would've been happy with a modest shelter for her three banties: Fennel, Ruby-The-Rescue-Chicken and Little Richard, a black hen with silky feathered feet. But the coop's architect, Ara Tripp, became inspired during construction when Fittante mentioned the Tilth Coop Tour. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "Now, I'm obligated by my vanity to do something spectacular," Tripp said. She tore down the glorified (yet humble) dog house she'd started and laid a six-sided pedestal as a foundation. From that rose a clapboard gazebo made of wood liberated from dumpsters. . . . . . . . . . "The great challenge," she said, "was building up the walls without making the structure look too thick." Tripp ripped all the slats by hand. The coop is 5 feet across and 6 feet high at its peak. It has three laying boxes and a back door that opens to an airy 8-by-8-foot pen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "I wanted the pen so you can service and clean it without having to stoop," Tripp says. "If you want to bond with your chickens, you shouldn't have to stoop." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Artistically, the architect's goal was to unite three woodworking styles and three colors in harmonious conversation. The fish-scale siding cascades from a shingled roof offset with wide trim, beveled at 30-degree angles. The boards are painted a trio of blue-gray tones and the trim is traditional white. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Total cost of materials: $65. Tripp figures she'd normally charge $500 for labor on such a project. (She was so buoyed by the work, she gave Fittante a deep discount.) . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . Sleek lines and brilliant design innovations are the hallmarks of the modern tri-level condo built by Dave and Pam Gronbeck for their Black Australorp and two Rhode Island Reds. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tucked unobtrusively under the deck of their 1907 bungalow, the mostly cedar coop has an angular asymmetry reminiscent of '70s cathedral-style ski condominiums. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At the main entrance, double-folding doors open wide enough to move in a chicken-sized grand piano. Despite the ample scale, the abode has a friendly rather than imposing face because of the door's kite-shaped windows.. . .. . . . . . . . Windows abound. The coop is sited to take advantage of afternoon sun through screened windows and minimize windy, wet weather from the south, where light floods in through paned clerestory windows. Portholes ring the home to promote healthy cross-ventilation. The cupola penthouse encourages the birds to stretch their wings for fresh air and also affords a territorial view. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside, five different perches rise in varying heights and textures, including white PVC piping, which is soft underfoot and easy to clean. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Other thoughtful touches include scalloped soffits, a solid brass latch and generous use of old-growth lumber (salvaged from the owners' kitchen). A laying ledge and food and water box are conveniently set at waist level so you can feed the chickens and gather eggs by simply flipping open a hatch door. Food and water dangle above the floor, in buckets, to prevent the hens from soiling their meals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "People think it's silly to do something like this," Pam Gronbeck says. "But I think if animals are going to be penned in an area, they should be comfortable. They're part of our family." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . One day, Jeff Stein looked at Margaret Kramer and said, "We should have chickens, y'know." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . She said, "Yeah, you do it, and fine with me." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . He built a coop but it wasn't good enough, too small for Rosie, Big Mama and Mary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Margaret said, "That's not human." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jeff: "I know. I gotta build a bigger coop." . . . . . . . . . . The coop's tall false front has swinging saloon doors, a tar-paper overhang (for shade at high noon!) and, on each floor, two decoupage windows trimmed in barn red. The windows offer glimpses of chickens in shadowy silhouette, shades half drawn. (Margaret is an artist as well as a social worker.) Humans enter the roomy coop through a 3/4-sizedoor marked LADIES. Inside, there's a framed print of a rooster. . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . He went to Second Use, an architectural salvage place near South Park, and bought an old gray fence for $50. He cut off the ground rot, turned the fence upside-down, and suddenly, it all came together: A Wild West Saloon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Wild West theme is echoed in a miniature saloon feeder and a covered screened porch annex made from salvaged materials. At night, a timed light in the coop gives the saloon a cozy glow that Jeff and Margaret can see from their 1908 farmhouse. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The whimsical hen house is set under tall locust trees on a street with its own Wild West history. Until 10 years ago, the street — within clucking distance of the I-90 lid — was still dirt road. Five years ago, it was home to a horse. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Now it has three chickens. "Imagine the coop in a dusty town," Stein says. "The chickens are strolling along, swaggering around, a duel at noon. They hang out, they chill out, they cross the street."


"Dear Katy...As another chicken addict and a 4-H poultry leader, I really appreciated running across your site this a.m. - very well done, helpful info and inspiring! Thanks!"     ---- L.F., South Beach, Oregon. "Dear Katy, I stumbled onto your website the other day and loved it...Keep updating your website, it's great...and a big help for folks beginning their flocks!  Thanks,"    ---- C.P., Carmel, CA


 . . . . Following article from, Chickens are useful pets...............written by BILL FINCH, Environment Editor of the Mobile Register newspaper of Alabama ...............It may now be safe to tell you that I have chickens. In the big city. In the deepest, darkest heart of Mobile. I'm telling you this now because I believe it's time for urban chicken raisers everywhere to come out of the closet and let the rest of the world know what they've been missing all these years. ...............I have chickens not only because it is the destiny and ambition of every Finch to have a small home flock, just like Grandma did so many years ago in Mobile, but also because I've discovered that home-raised chickens are an indispensable part of my garden, and their exceptionally rich eggs are an invaluable addition to my diet. ...... cc .........They're much quieter (and make less of a mess) than my dogs, they're much less trouble than my finicky cats, and I've grown rather fond of them, as often happens when people are around chickens for any length of time. ...............I suspect many of you have briefly considered keeping a little Easter chick as a pet, but assumed that it was illegal to do so in the big city. ...............True, some cities, like Fairhope, ban chickens altogether, for whatever threat to public safety they may pose there. ...............But older, long-settled communities like Mobile -- communities that grew up with chickens, that are familiar enough with the habits of chickens to know they're no more a threat to the public than the jays, cardinals and other birds we tolerate and even encourage around our homes -- have always allowed home flocks, with some minor restrictions (in Mobile, a homeowner can have 25 hens within the confines of his yard, though roosters are forbidden if the neighbors complain). ...............The trouble with chickens : ...............But why would anyone want to have chickens as backyard pets? ...............Well, why wouldn't you? They are more easily trained than a cat, have a lot more personality than a cocker spaniel, and many home-grown birds are quite affectionate, seeking out their human owners for a sign of attention or a back rub. ...............The five cochin bantams I used to have followed me around the yard like a pack of puppies, crawling in my lap and clucking until I delivered another worm. .......    ........One of them, Danielle, was brought inside in a cat carrier for a few nights to recuperate from a mauling by an opossum. She remains insistent that the cat carrier is her bedroom, and if we don't come fetch her at dusk, she climbs out of her coop, waddles across the yard, and knocks at the back door until we let her in. (It was Danielle who posed so patiently for the pictures in this article: I believe I could train her to fetch, if I saw any purpose in doing so.) ...............Many people keep chickens just because they're beautiful, as pretty as some of the rare, exotic birds we snatch directly from South American jungles. It's hard to imagine a bird with more exotic and colorful foliage than the old English game or Dutch bantams, though some will prefer the checkerboard pattern of the Dominiques, the unusual baked gold of the Sicilian buttercups, or the lustrous blue-black of a proud Andalusian. ...............But it's the irony of modern life that chickens are sometimes disparaged as pets because they're so -- well -- useful. ...............In this modern world, the more verifiably useless an animal is, the better chance it has of being accepted widely as a pet. Working dogs never seem to enjoy much popularity until the American Kennel Club manages to turn them into neurotic living room ornaments (no, I don't mean to single out golden retrievers or chocolate labs). Modern cats have no responsibilities in their households, and take none for the capricious damage they do. ...............Somehow, it's socially acceptable to watch a bored turtle making desperate circles in a glass bowl for its entire existence. It's OK to have a squawking pair of parakeets that have no purpose in life but to scatter seed all over the kitchen floor. We even seem to prefer useless gardens: An azalea in your yard is fine, no matter how ragged it looks, but as soon as neighbors find out that those beautiful reddish-green leaves in your front bed are actually edible heads of lettuce, they're going to call the garden police. ...............And so the chicken has this terrible strike against it: It is so invariably, so incontrovertibly, useful. ...............It's not just that some folks eat chickens fairly regularly, and don't like coming face to face with the creatures they consume. Lots of people eat fish, too, but there's no great prejudice against keeping fish. ...............What makes the chicken an especially suspicious pet is that nearly every aspect of its life is useful to its owner. ...............Chickens, for example, are the most terrifying weeders you could ever employ. Whenever I have a section of the yard that is a hopeless tangle of blackberries and rough grasses, I leave my chickens to scratch it up. Within a few days, it's tilled and ready for planting, with not a weed, seed or root in sight (take note, those who complain about rattlesnake root). ...............And they leave it nicely fertilized, too. Chicken fertilizer, as you probably know, is ideal for vegetable and flower gardens. It doesn't foster the kind of human diseases that dog and cat poop can, it has a nice balance of nutrients, and unlike cow or horse manure, it doesn't contain a lot of weed seeds. The chickens till it into the ground just right, so there's no odor. ...............A yard with chickens, I'll have to confess, is going to be almost completely devoid of pesky bugs like ticks and palmetto bugs. Chickens are voracious insect eaters, and I turn them out into the overmature vegetable garden to clean up the armyworms and cutworms, the Mexican bean beetles and the slugs. ...............I could tell you horror stories about how quickly a few scratching chickens can make rich compost of a pile of leaves, how adept chickens are at finding grubs, mole crickets and termite tunnels, how good collards and tomatoes taste when grown in chicken-fed soil. .....   ..........But nothing about a backyard chicken's usefulness will offend modern sensibilities more than the bird's propensity for producing eggs. Not just any eggs, but the most alarmingly flavorful eggs you'll ever eat, a hundred or more per bird per year. ...............I should warn you, yard eggs taste nothing like grocery store eggs. There's a rich, almost buttery taste to a good yard egg. You'll notice the taste fried, scrambled or souffled. You'll detect the difference in your casseroles, your cornbread, your eggnogs, your homemade custard ice cream. ...............And then there's the color of the yard egg's yolk. It'll take some getting used to if you've grown accustomed to the pale yellow grocery store variety. ...............I knew cooks when I was growing up who would drive miles to get fresh yard eggs for their cakes. The deep orange yolks of the yard eggs were the secret ingredient in your grandmother's golden pound cakes; those anemic grocery store eggs you're using are why your pound cake has never come close. ...............And wouldn't you know it, it's the infernal usefulness of the yard chicken that makes its eggs so sought after. The deep orange color, the rich flavor -- you'll only get that from chickens allowed to scratch their way through the weeds, bugs and sunshine of a back yard. Commercially raised chickens never come in contact with good earth, and their eggs are as bland and colorless as their processed feed diet.      .    Ah, country life : ...............The irony is, if you want the taste of the country life that only chickens can afford, you'll have a hard time finding it in the new communities that have recently sprawled over the countryside. ...............Many of these communities are quite explicit in their rejection of chickens. ...............Fairhope and Daphne residents, for example, will have to entertain themselves with less useful animals like dogs, cats, cobras, tigers or wolves: Animal control officers say these aren't prohibited, but under no circumstance may you keep a chicken in those cities. In Gulf Shores, to take the most extreme case, they apparently don't want you to have anything other than your poodle, your puss and your pension fund. ...............Oddly enough, it's the older, more settled cities that seem to be more appreciative of the merits of having useful household animals like chickens. Even Alabama's richest community, Mountain Brook, seems to have no problems with keeping chickens as pets. ...............Mountain Brook, as many older communities do, makes all birds subject to the same laws that govern the keeping of dogs and cats: Their cages and pens must be clean; they aren't allowed to roam freely on neighbor's properties; and loud, incessant barking, crowing and caterwauling is prohibited by the city's noise ordinances, regardless of the type of animal that produces it. ...............Instead of regulating chickens, Mountain Brook's city council decided it was more important to prohibit the keeping of non-domestic animals like raccoons, cougars, and bears, animal control officers say. (Don't laugh: You'd be surprised at the animals lurking, quite legally, in some back yards.) ...............There's really no threat of someone slyly turning a back yard into a for-profit chicken factory. Cities that want to discourage the willy-nilly for-profit production of chickens will find that the possibility has already been stamped out by tough food laws that require elaborate equipment and permits for those who sell eggs and meat. ...............So why are chickens singled out in the newer, fast-growing bedroom communities like Daphne and Fairhope? ...............Perhaps, having so recently escaped their rural status, these communities feel  a need to work extra hard to prove that they are not just a country crossroads anymore. A chicken may remind residents that they are only a generation removed from the rural life of their Alabama grandmothers. ...............The gated rural suburbs, with their extensive lists of covenant do's and don'ts, are even more restrictive than the new cities. ...............So there's good reason to believe that the last stronghold of home chicken-raising in Alabama might be in its older city centers, where most neighbors are sophisticated enough to cultivate a small-town atmosphere, sharing sugar, mild gossip and fresh eggs across the fence. ...............At least that's the way it is in the older neighborhoods of my big small town of Mobile. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of bird owners -- some rich and well-known, some just getting by -- within the city limits. You'd never really know the birds were there, unless you were lucky enough to be given some eggs. ...............But as a local bird lover points out, it's telling that one of the last grocery stores in Mobile to carry a wide selection of chicken feeds is Namans, on the edge of downtown. And sometimes, when the deafening roar of commuter traffic headed for the rural suburbs subsides, you can hear, softly in the distance, a hen cackling proudly over her fresh-laid egg.  


The following article was printed in the Jan. 8th, 2013 issue of The Oregonian. Afowl of the Law: A ban on chickens forces a Gresham resident to give up her brood. By Nancy Woods. Is Gresham ahead of or behind the times when it comes to raising chickens in the city? Is Portland more chicken friendly? Until recently, Jan Apland-Curtis, a Gresham resident, had five hens and one rooster in her yard but a complaint from a neighbor meant that she had to find a new home for her rooster and two hens. Apland-Curtis didn't even mean to have a rooster. She thought all her original chicks were female. By the time it became obvious one was a rooster, he'd become a beloved member of the family. "We raised him from a chick and were all attached to him," said Apland-Curtis, a nutritionist for Multnomah County who lives with her husband and two sons. "He was our favorite chicken and we thought we would try to make it work." By giving up the rooster along with his two favorite hens, Apland-Curtis hoped the problem would be solved, that she wouldn't hear anything further from the city of Gresham.    After all, it was the rooster who made the most noise. But one day she and her family returned from a camping trip to find a notice from the city of Gresham telling her she had two weeks to get rid of the remaining chickens, too. To Apland-Curtis it didn't make sense. "Most cities allow chickens," she said, "so why not Gresham? Gresham used to be farmland." Besides, she said, chickens aren't that smelly and they're quieter than dogs. "We get a chicken complaint at least twice a week," said Jody Sandstrom, code enforcement program manager for the city of Gresham. Sandstrom said he and his staff look at things on a case-by-case basis and try to make sure they "take care of not only the person making the complaint but also the violator, so they understand why they need to remove the chickens or poultry." According to current code, chickens are not allowed in Gresham unless they are grandfathered in, which means they have to have been on the property before 1992 when the current code went into effect. In addition, if you do have chickens, they must be kept at least 100 feet from any structure, including your neighbor's house. Development is one reason that Sandstrom is receiving so many chicken calls. If a new subdivision wraps around a piece of property, he said, that enclosed land falls into the new subdivision regulations, so its owner may have to remove any chickens. "Each time we annex anything," he said, and "start taking in the farm land, it has a major impact on what we do." When development takes place, he said, new residents find themselves "next door to people who are raising pigs, chickens, goats. That's the kind of complaints we're getting into." The problem is also cultural. In some countries, city chickens are quite common. "Russians and Laotians and Hispanics - it's normal to do in their country," Sandstrom said, "but in the United States you can't." Well, not in Gresham anyway - where you can have a pot-bellied pig. " Pot-bellied pigs are okay because they're considered a pet," Sandstrom said. What has come to be called the pot-bellied pig exemption was added onto the development code during what Sandstrom refers to as the "pot-bellied pig phenomenon." Citizens petitioned the planning department to make the changes. Could a chicken exemption be added in the same way? "That's a possibility," Sandstrom said. Citizens "have the right to petition for a code change and run it through process." Meanwhile, not far from Apland-Curtis's chicken-less house, Jude Foster is raising seven layers on her Southeast Portland lot. "Chickens are great," she said. "They're organic. They're real peaceful. They're a simple, urban-friendly way of living more naturally. They do this circle -- they give you eggs, they give you manure, they eat scraps. And I love them." Even for a busy person like Foster, who is director of Harmony Montessori in Portland, raising chickens is very doable. "They don't need a lot of time and attention," she said, "Once you get them set up, "they're very low maintenance." They don't have to smell, either. "If you're careful and take good care of your chickens," Foster said, "there's nothing to offend. They're pleasant to have around. The secret to keeping a clean chicken coop is to divide the area where they roost from where they walk." When it comes to smelly chickens in Multnomah County, Dave Thomson is the man to call. Thomson is the code enforcement officer for Multnomah County. In Portland, chickens are considered specified animals, along with ducks, rabbits and pygmy goats. A total of three or less of any of those animals is allowed. More than three and a one-time $31 permit is required. Because of the noise they make, roosters are not allowed.  . . . . .Since July 2003, Thomson's department has received 63 chicken- and rooster-related complaints. "It's mainly a tossup between odor and sanitary concerns," Thomson said, although there have also been a number of calls about chickens getting loose. That was the case on a recent day in November when Thomas visited several Portland homes to follow up on chicken and rooster complaints. At one, pigeons, chickens and a rooster had wandered into the street. At another, chickens had escaped and gotten into a neighbor's yard. Whatever the complaint, Thomson tries to resolve it peacefully. "My particular style is to resolve it on a friendly neighborly basis. I'm not the heavy handed type." If someone is defiant or stubborn, he said, his department will issue a warning notice that includes information on what animals are allowed and an explanation of the permit process. If the resident doesn't comply, a fine of $100 per day can be imposed for each day in violation. According to Thomson, in the future the permit fee may be raised though he couldn't say exactly when or by how much. Meanwhile, he enjoys the problem-solving aspects of his job. "A lot of times people don't realize that there is somebody who takes care of these types of problems," he said. "It's kind of fun to resolve neighborhood conflicts. When they finally discover us and they get results it's very satisfying. I take great satisfaction and pride in taking care of this." Jude Foster hasn't had any complaints from her neighbors and obviously enjoys her hens, which represent several breeds: Ameracauna, Silver-laced Wyandotte, Golden sex-link, Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red and New Hampshire Red. She gives them nicknames like Lemon, Maya and Henny Penny and appreciates the four to six eggs a day they provide. "They're interesting," she said, "and entertaining. It's fun to watch them scratch around. They have different personalities." One of hers is timid while another jumps up to get fed. But they're not your typical pet. Foster's hens, for instance, don't like to be picked up. "They're not mammals," she said. They don't adore their owners or anything like that. They're not super tame.  . . . .They have their own life." A spoiled life, as it turns out. Foster lets her hens run loose in her yard where they peck and scratch and rid the area of slugs. She feeds them organic feed and built them an elaborate coop that includes a special egg-laying room with curtain and pull-open roof for retrieval, roosting and walking areas, and special back door for removal of droppings. Outside, the hens have a generous, hay-strewn space in which to walk about. The only thing that would be nicer than their comfortable coop, Foster said, would be roaming free in the country. "This is luxurious. This is a chicken palace," she said. In contrast, Katy Skinner prides herself on being a practical chicken fancier. She likes to build coops "on the cheap." She's made at least one out of pallet wood and another out of a dog kennel. Right now, her six chickens live in an old storage shed to which she applied some paint. Skinner, a stay-at-home mom, lives with her husband and two young sons on a quarter-acre lot in East Portland where she raises several kinds of hens - Ameraucana (also known as Easter egg chickens), Rhode Island Red, Buff Orpington and Australorp. All together the hens produce between three and four eggs a day. Skinner likes being practical.  Even as a child growing up on three acres in Sandy, Skinner viewed the family chickens as "infinitely practical. They give you eggs. They are a pet that gives you something back." As an adult she finds them compatible with raising her children -- son Bert helps gather the eggs -- and easier to have than a dog which, she explained, you have to entertain and take to obedience class. "Chickens are much less demanding," Skinner said. Once you get the coop set up, "they're kind of self sustaining." There is a downside to having chickens. Every so often Skinner has had to euthanize a sick chicken. And, even in the city, there's an on-going problem with predators. "People will swear they don't have raccoon or hawks," Skinner said "but the second you have chickens they'll come out of the woodwork.   The hawks come swooping down. I've had raccoons eat my chickens, dogs eat my chickens and hawks try to get my chickens." Suggestions on how to build a predator-safe coop and lots of other advice on raising urban chickens can be found on Skinner's fun, friendly, photo-filled and, yes, practical website She started the website 10 years ago and now gets 500 hits a day from across the country and as far away as England and Australia. People contact Skinner through her website to ask her questions about chickens. Some wonder whether urban chickens are pets. "They can be thought of livestock or pets," Skinner said. "They bridge the gap. My particular chickens aren't that pet-like. They're more livestock-like." To encourage a chicken to be a pet, Skinner said, "All you have to do is handle them a lot from when they are baby chicks." Other website visitors reveal a common misunderstanding when it comes to the relationship between hens, roosters, chickens and eggs. "People forget their basic high school biology," Skinner said. They don't realize that you don't have to have a rooster in order to get eggs. Eggs in the store are from hens that will never see a rooster in their life, she explained. Only if you want to have baby chicks do you need a rooster Meanwhile, Apland-Curtis would just like to have her chickens back. "I miss their little personalities," she said, "how they would run out to you when you go out to the yard, to get a handout." Her rooster and chickens now live on a small Corbett farm run by a woman Apland-Curtis knows. Fortunately, Apland-Curtis and her family have visitation rights. They're welcome to stop by the farm anytime without notice to check on their chickens. "We've been out several times to see the chickens and have a little visit and bring them some cracked corn because they really like that," Apland-Curtis said. "It's a little chicken treat." Does she hope to once again raise chickens in Gresham? "I don't want to get in trouble with the city again," she said. "If the codes change and it becomes acceptable, I would love to have chickens again." Nancy Woods is an Oregon writer who can be reached at   

From:  The Toronto Star newspaper . . . . . BACKYARD FARMING . . . . . | GTA | Poultry in motion: Chickens adopting urban lifestyle . . . . . RON BULL/TORONTO STAR . . . . . . . GETTING TO KNOW YOUR GALLIFORMES . . . . . . . Hoping to raise a few chickens in your Toronto backyard? Wondering what you can and can't do? . . . . . . The City of Toronto lays it all out on its website ( but you may want to consult a book of taxonomy before you start looking. . . . . . . . .The website has a convenient Frequently Asked Questions section on animals, where it promises information on chickens, pigeons, exotic animals and more in Chapter 349-2 of the Toronto Municipal Code. But once you get there, you won't find the word chicken or poultry mentioned anywhere. . . . . . . Clicking on Schedule A brings up a long list of prohibited animals. Proboscidae (elephants) and Viverridae (which include mongooses) are banned. So are Perissodactyla (horses, donkeys, jackasses, mules). Under birds there are Anseriformes (ducks, geese, swans, screamers), Struthioniformes (flightless ratites such as ostriches, rheas, cassowaries, emus, kiwis) and Galliformes (such as pheasants, grouse, guineafowls, turkeys) . . . . . . Chickens, though not named, belong to the Galliformes scientific order and are prohibited. . . . . . . Other jurisdictions . . . . . . Victoria, B.C. is one of the few cities in Canada where it is legal to keep chickens. They may be kept as pets and for egg production, though the eggs may not be sold. Roosters are banned. The bylaw doesn't limit the number of chickens, but an "excessive" number "will bring into question intended use." . . . . . . .  The Niagara Falls, Ont., bylaw is more specific: A maximum of 10 chickens; coops must be at the backyard, 7.6 metres from the rear property line and 4.6 metres from the side lot line. Roosters are banned. The coop must allow for proper ventilation and for movement of chickens in keeping with good animal husbandry practices. . . . . .  In New York City, poultry and rabbits are allowed by permit under the city's Health Code. They must be kept in coops and runs, which must be whitewashed or similarly treated once a year. The coops and runs must be kept clean. . . .. . . You can raise them in New York but not here. Toronto locavores are hoping to change that . . . . . May 04, 2008 04:30 AM . . . . . .Leslie Scrivener . . . . . . Toronto Star . . . . . . It's an idyllic scene in a sunny backyard in North Toronto. The forsythia is bright as springtime, and Sally, Heidi and Clucky wander by contentedly. They are plump, vigorous, egg-laying hens that, despite their beauty and utility, are illegal in Toronto. . . . . . . Nonetheless, their owner has kept them quietly in her backyard coop through the winter and now lets them range freely in the yard, which is shallow but 15 metres wide. . . . . . . ."It makes total sense to me, rather than getting in the car, driving to the grocery store and buying eggs trucked in from a far away farm, to go to the back yard and get eggs," says "Alice," who asked that her real name not be used. A middle-aged mother of two teenagers who works at home in the food business, she had identified herself on the telephone as a "renegade" chicken owner. "Besides, I know they are healthy and what they've eaten." . . . . . . . . Toronto bylaws forbid keeping poultry, for health reasons. On the other hand, pigeons raised for sport are allowed, provided they rest, roost or perch only on their owner's property. . . . . . . Oddly, by raising a few chickens in the city, Alice is in step with a do-it-yourself food movement that is thriving in cities like New York, Portland, Chicago and Seattle. It's legal to keep chickens in those cities and dozens more in the United States. . . . . . . . Increasingly, urbanites concerned about about food miles and safety are pushing their local governments to be more flexible about backyard livestock. Websites, including and, offer direction and inspiration to city farmers. When Elaine Belanger launched the first issue of her magazine Backyard Poultry in 2006, she had 15,000 copies printed, which proved to be not nearly enough. "People kept asking for them," she says from Eau Claire, Wis. "Now we have 50,000 paid subscribers. It's truly beyond what we were expecting." . . . . . . . . She believes the interest has been spurred by post-9/11 fears, recent scares about E. coli in meat, and distrust of additives in food. "People want a little bit of control." . . . . . . Closer to home, Waterloo city council recently agreed to study a proposal from Matthew Bailey-Dick and a new organization he had formed, the Waterloo Hen Association. "We didn't want to quietly do our own thing on our property," says Bailey-Dick, a Mennonite peace educator and father of three young children who doesn't yet raise chickens. "This is a community issue and an opportunity to realize they can contribute to practical food security. . . . . . . . "There are broader issues ... food prices going up, global warming and environmental sustainability, which one family cannot solve." . . . . . . Here in Toronto, it's not known just how many residents keep chickens in their backyards. One recent afternoon, Alice's birds cluck pleasantly as they peck and hunt in the grass."They're in chicken heaven, since the weather's been nice and we've been letting them out of their coop," she says. Their coop, a U.S. product called an "Eglu," is made from stylish moulded plastic, includes a wire run, and sells for about $500. . . . . . . . Alice has launched an online forum at, which includes a petition asking Toronto to update its bylaw to allow residents to responsibly raise chickens in the city. . . . . . She contends there are worse sources of city noise than a few chickens. During an interview with the Toronto Star, she noted a plane flying overhead and a roaring leaf blower across the street. She's an environmentalist interested in living sustainably. . . . . . . . "Properties are mainly used to grow grass," she says, "and we use our drinking water to water grass, and pesticides to get rid of bugs and weeds, and chemicals to fertilize the grass, and then we collect leaves and put them in bags when they could be used for mulch and as a good source of carbon for the compost." . . . . . . .Alice also subscribes to the "locavore" movement, which includes growing your own food or buying only food raised locally. She grows garlic, alpine strawberries, sorrel and other herbs in her front garden. She worries about contaminants in food and about factory-farm production and the resulting runoff from manure. She uses her chicken manure as a resource, a source of nitrogen in the garden. . . . . . Matthew Bailey-Dick of Waterloo and his wife, Nina, would like to raise a few chickens on their 18- by 49-metre property in Waterloo. They already have a large garden and preserve or freeze a lot of their harvest. . . . . . . Waterloo doesn't have a bylaw regulating chickens, and after Bailey-Dick's presentation April 21, council agreed to review and update its animal control bylaw. . . . . . . . In recent months, two families in Halifax have had to give up their chickens because of complaints from neighbours – one over a noisy rooster and the other claiming chickens were attracting rats. Those chicken owners are calling for bylaw amendments. Meanwhile, in Chicago, there's been an uproar since councillors tried to amend a bylaw in order to ban chickens last December. In the interests of keeping the peace, they've decided to review the regulations. . . . . . . Christie Young, director of Guelph-based FarmStart, an organization that supports new farmers, is confident that small-scale poultry production can work in the city. Bylaws can limit the number of birds and the minimum distance from a neighour's property, she says. Owners would be responsible for chicken waste, just as citizens are for waste from their pets, and required to build coops strong enough to keep chickens in and predators out. . . . . . . . (In Niagara Falls, for example, rules for keeping chickens include minimum property size of 30 by 12 metres, no more than 10 chickens per yard and no roosters.) . . . . . . York University graduate student Carolyn Young, who has written a research paper on raising chickens in the city, says giving it the green light in Toronto could be "a very smooth process ... "it works in (other cities) in North America and it works in other countries." . . . . . Still, she noted, there is the problem of attitude. "There continues to be a mindset that chickens are dirty, a nuisance and disorderly when kept in the city." . . . . . . . Keeping backyard chickens was more common in Toronto a generation ago, especially among immigrant families from Portugal and Italy. But concerns about public health and the possibility of disease being spread by chickens led to a change in the bylaw in 1983, recalls deputy mayor Joe Pantalone. "It was a big debate, and I was on the losing side. I was of the view that allowing the farm to be part of the city is part of the holistic solution ... . . . "Rabbits were spared because somebody brought in a cuddly little thing to the committee meeting. Pigeons were a bit tricky. If they were kept for food, they were banned, but they were allowed for sport." . . . . . . . Pantalone, councillor in Ward 19, says the time is right to take another look at the bylaw. "But it doesn't make sense to keep chickens on the balcony of your condominium. However, there's something to be said if you have a big back yard abutting a ravine where you keep a limited number of animals in clean condition." . . . . . . . Chickens are banned in Toronto because they are considered farm animals. "Because of the urbanized environment and the density of houses, farm animals are not appropriate and not allowed," says Fiona Venedam, supervisor of Toronto animal services, north. . . . . . However, there are a few places in the city, including parts of Scarborough near the zoo, that are zoned agricultural and where chickens are permitted. . . . . . . Each year, there are only a few complaints about chickens being kept in the city. Violators face a $240 fine. Recently in a west downtown ward, however, there have been complaints about people barbecuing pigeons. "If only they were looking for people who are raising pigeons, I would turn my neighbour over without hesitation," one west-end resident wrote in response to a Star inquiry. . . . . . .Rhonda Teitel-Payne, urban agriculture manager for The Stop Community Food Centre, says there's a perception problem about raising food in a place like Toronto – "the city is 100-per-cent toxic and the country is 100-per-cent clean." That view is changing as people turn their minds to roof-top gardening, boards of education reopen greenhouses in local schools, and residents try to secure plots in community gardens which, she says, is difficult. "It's very hard to do, we are inundated with requests." . . . . . Free-range eggs are the first things to sell out at farmers' markets, she adds. . . . . . "The demand is there, and people are getting to the point where they say, 'I'm going to try and do something myself.' " . . . . . . Back in North Toronto, Alice's three birds cluck soothingly in the backyard. Each bird lays an egg a day – actually, one every 26 hours. Today's offerings, in muted shades of brown, are sitting prettily in a small straw basket sitting on the patio table.  

  Urban farms come to roost in Portland Metro . . . From: . . . .  . . . . . .Published: Saturday, May 07, 2013, 12:00 PM     . . . . . .Special to The Oregonian By MICHELLE TRAPPEN, SPECIAL WRITER to The Oregonian.   . . . . . . . . . . . .When Alex and Moriah Berthrong bought their Canby house four years ago, they wanted a large backyard where their children could play, and where they could grow organic vegetables. . . . . . . .cc . . . . .But soon after moving in, the couple read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” by Michael Pollan, and they watched the movie, “Food, Inc.” What they learned about the animal product industry horrified them, and ultimately motivated them to raise their own chickens — both for eggs and for consumption. . . . . . . . . . . . .“We did not like how inhumanely chickens are treated, just so we are able to buy cheap eggs,” Moriah says. “We both like to cook and bake. Raising our own chickens is something we can do.” . . . . . .  The family was part of the first wave of a growing number of homeowners who, for a variety of reasons, have transformed their urban and suburban lots into mini farms of sorts, complete with laying hens, vegetable gardens and sometimes even a goat or pot-bellied pig. . . . . . . . . . . . .A sagging economy, concern over food sources and a rural revival all have fueled this uptick in home-grown everything — creating a bonus situation for buyers wanting urban property endowed with farm-like amenities. . . . . . . . . . . . .Kelli Thompson, director of communications with the Oregon Association of Realtors, says her organization doesn’t track statistics on such trends. But Realtors such as Early say they’ve definitely witnessed a spike in listed homes that feature gardens, coops and anything else “Old McDonald”-like. . . . . . . . . . . . .“People want a simpler life that involves getting their hands in the soil,” says Early, adding that the downturned economy allows buyers to afford bigger lots, or even acreage. “People want to be able to monitor their own food source, and know exactly what they’re putting into their bodies. . . . . . .cc . . . . . .Cities nationwide and locally have scrambled to keep step with the trend. Vocal homeowners have demanded city leaders revise ordinances to permit hen ownership on lots as small as 5,000 square feet. Portland, for instance, allows three hens per backyard coop; Beaverton allows four hens, and Hillsboro allows three to nine hens, depending on lot size ($25 animal permit required). Most cities require chicken pens be located a specific distance from neighbors. . . . . . . . . . . . .Roosters, however — which can be loud and aggressive — continue to be banned within most city limits, but are typically allowed on acreage outside Portland’s urban growth boundary. . . . . . . . . . . . .Urban chickens have become so popular they’ve ignited a slew of websites, businesses and events, including the The City Chicken, blogged by Katy Skinner of Yacolt, Wash. (; Portland-based “Just Us Hens,” specializing in chicken consultations and even chicken sitting (; and an annual “Tour de Coops” in Portland, this year scheduled for Saturday, July 16 ( . . . . . . . . . . . .Real estate listings don’t always promote coops or gardens, but Early says prospective buyers often gush when they see properties blessed with such features. . . . . . . . . . . . .The Berthrongs have such a property. Moriah, who home-schools their four children, uses the family garden and chicken coop both as a teaching tool and as a means to grow sustainable food. Alex, a veterinarian, also schools the children on animal husbandry. . . . . . . . . . . . .Along with raspberries and blueberries, the family has grown carrots, artichokes, tomatoes, zucchini and spaghetti squash on their quarter-acre of land. Post-harvest, they allow their chickens to roam the garden, eat spoilage, and blanket the soil with nutrient-rich manure. . . . . . . . . . . . .Brandon and Travis Berthrong, ages 11 and 9 respectively, feed the chickens, clean the pen and — when chickens are old enough to lay — collect seven to nine eggs daily. The boys stock the family’s refrigerator, and sell the surplus to neighbors for $3 a dozen. . . . . . .“It’s how they earn their spending money,” Moriah says. . . . . . . . . . . . .The Berthrongs just recently started raising “broilers” for slaughter and consumption. Moriah says that she and Alex prepped the children by explaining that homegrown chicken meat is healthier, and that it provides needed nourishment. . . . . . . . . . . . .“The children handled the situation well,” Moriah says. “I think I had the stronger reaction. I felt like the chicken should be prepared in some special way, as a way of honoring the fact that it gave us its life.” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .“We love this lifestyle,” Moriah says. “We want even more land so the children can raise more animals, and learn more about sustainable living.” . . . . . . . . . . . .Michelle Trappen is a Portland-based freelance writer who can be reached at . . . . . . . . Longmont considers legalizing residential chickens . . . . One couple drives push to allow backyard hens . . . . . By Vanessa Miller . . . . . Monday, November 10, 2013 . . . . . . Plenty of people living in Longmont keep chickens in their backyards. . . . . . . Trouble is, right now, all of them are doing so illegally, and when chicken-related complaints trickle in, the owners are forced to give up their pets, said Ben Ortiz, a Longmont city planner. . . . . . Because complaints are minimal and hen lovers want to keep their animals, Ortiz said, the city is looking at legalizing backyard chickens in residential areas so poultry owners don’t have to sweat their birds. A community meeting on the subject is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Longmont Public Library, 409 Fourth Ave., Ortiz said. . . . . . .Public feedback gleaned from that meeting will guide officials in drafting a code amendment to allow residential hens. Right now, Ortiz said, Longmont chickens are considered “livestock” and only are allowed in agriculturally zoned areas. . . . . . Changing the law wouldn’t mean much for many Longmont chicken-keepers who’ve been doing so quietly for years. But, Ortiz said, for couples like Tracy Halward and William Baker who’ve been forced to give up their birds, it would mean a lot. . . . . . . . City officials recently cried “fowl” on the couple’s hens, which they were keeping behind their home on Steele Street. Halward and Baker were ticketed and ordered to get rid of their chickens, even though they insist none of their neighbors complained, Ortiz said. . . . . . . “The main reason they wanted the hens is they wanted more control over their food source,” Ortiz said. . . . . . . At a “coffee with council town meeting,” the couple asked if the city would consider amending its code to allow them to keep their birds. Council members passed along the request, and the matter landed on Ortiz’ desk. . . . . . . After doing some research, Ortiz said, his office recommend amending the city code to allow a limited number of backyard hens in residential areas, with regulations on how they’re caged and maintained. . . . . . And, he said, no “front-yard” chickens would be allowed. . . . . . . In Ortiz’ recommendation, he noted potential positive and negative impacts of the amendment. On the positive side, he said, legalizing chickens would reduce the number of animal-control calls. On the negative side, he said, it might up enforcement calls for unsanitary chicken conditions. . . . . . . In deciding to recommend legalizing residential chickens, Ortiz said he researched laws in other cities. He looked at 15 Colorado communities and found that eight communities allow backyard chickens in residential zones, including Boulder. . . . . . When he considered other metropolitan areas outside Colorado like Madison, Wis., and Portland Oregon., Ortiz said, he was surprised to find that hens were allowed. . . “It’s not as unusual as people think,” he said. “It doesn’t appear they are, in fact, just a farm animal.” . . . . . . Hen regulations in those communities, however, are “all over the map,” Ortiz said. Madison allows up to four chickens in residential areas, and no person can slaughter one. Portland allows up to three chickens per house in residential areas, he said. . . . . . In most communities he researched, Ortiz said, “roosters are either banned” or regulated through noise or nuisance ordinances. . . . . . . . Longmont’s code revision probably would list animals that are allowed and those that aren’t, he said. And it would limit the number of hens a household could own, and it would probably ban roosters. . . . . . . Ortiz said his department likely will require predator-proof chicken coops and set a minimum cage size. He would recommend a nuisance clause to address noise issues and mandate sanitary standards. . . . . . Ortiz said his office also would suggest a city ban on slaughtering chickens. . . . . . Jodie Carroll, spokeswoman for the city of Boulder, said the city doesn’t have an ordinance on banning chickens. . . . . “We have a list of exotic animals that are not allowed,” she said. “And chickens are not on that list.” . . . . . Morgan Poncelet, 26, and Steve Lommele, 28, bought four chickens to keep at their south Boulder home in March. Pearl, Mertha, Tayler and Sid began their chicken lives on Lehigh Street in a metal tub sized right for the chicks, who now live in a large coop, where they’re fed several times a day and occasionally allowed to fly and run under the raised porch, Poncelet said. . . . . . The couple bought the animals because they wanted pets and “liked the idea of raising our own chickens and growing our own food.” The birds each lay about one egg every one or two days, and — in the peak season — Poncelet and Lommele get two to three eggs a day. . . . . . “We usually eat them all,” Poncelet said. “If we have too many, we find something to make.” . . . . . She said chickens certainly should be allowed in residential areas “as long as you have enough space for them.” And, now that the couple has their own egg-making machines, they can compare stories and recipes with friends in Portland who also own chickens. . . . . “The eggs in stores usually are about a month old when they get there,” she said. “I think these taste a lot better.”    

Article from Chicago Tribune. . . . . . . .Orginal link:,0,1181076.story . . . . . . . . Chickens earning their keep in Chicago backyards . . . . . More urbanites have animals for their eggs, companionship . . . . . By Sara Olkon - - Tribune reporter  . . . . . December 15, 2013 . . . . . . . Just past a busy intersection in this West Side neighborhood, a flock of hens softly clucks about the yard, seemingly oblivious to the stares of a nearby alley cat.. . . . . . . They are "like pets with eggs," said Donna Knezek, who along with her partner Liz Sharp keeps five hens in a chicken coop outside her East Garfield Park home. "It's important to know where your food comes from." . . . . . . Odd as it may sound, it's legal to keep chickens in Chicago, though slaughtering the animals is prohibited. A year ago, an alderman from the Southwest Side failed to advance an ordinance banning the barnyard animals from their city roosts. . . . . . . Since then, the idea of raising chickens has only become more attractive to urbanites, especially "locavores" who like knowing that their plate of eggs came from their own backyard. The birds also eat bugs and weeds, they happily devour food scraps such as wilted lettuce and carrot tops, and their manure can be composted into garden fertilizer. . . . . . Signs of the burgeoning urban chicken movement include a bimonthly magazine called Backyard Poultry, which started publishing in 2006, as well as popular Web sites and blogs including and . . . . . . "It's exploding all over the country," said Martha Boyd, program director for Angelic Organics Learning Center in Woodlawn, which offered a workshop on basic backyard chicken care for Chicago residents last month. . . . . . . Within 48 hours, the 30-spot workshop had sold out. Angelic plans to hold another class March 21. . . . . . . . Tom Rosenfeld, one of the workshop instructors, said he is floored by the amount of interest. . . . . . "We've finally gone over the top in this corporate food delivery system." he said. "It's about connecting much closer to [one's] food." . . . . . An organic apple farmer, Rosenfeld has been keeping hens at his Rogers Park home for more than three years. But unlike many of the urban chicken enthusiasts he meets, Rosenfeld does not name the birds. For him, the birds are not pets. . . . . . "I wanted the eggs," he said. . . . . . . He appears to be in the minority. Diane Blaszczyk pets her chickens and lets them jump on her lap. She said her birds "beg like dogs" for scraps. . . . . . She and her husband, Mark, keep nine hens and a rooster in the Old Norwood Park neighborhood. In August, when their hens started laying, they stopped buying eggs from the grocery store. . . . . . "One of our friends jokes that we are well prepared for the food riots that are coming," Mark Blaszczyk said. . . . . Tara Keating and her husband, Frank Geilen, got hooked after visiting a booth at a street festival in Andersonville last summer. Already committed to composting, organic gardening and commuting by bike, the idea of raising chickens just made sense. . . . . . . They now keep four hens—Kippie, Poekie, Dotty and Pickles—in a coop they installed inside their condominium's garden. . . . . . Their hens eat only organic feed, about $22 for a 50-pound bag. Baby chickens themselves are cheap—often as little as a dollar and change apiece—and can be ordered online. . . . . . Keating estimated that the coop, chicken wire and feeders cost them about $500. "You are not going to make money," she said of the venture. . . . . Non-organic feed is about a third of the price, and chicken coops can be made for less. Shawn Peek fashioned one out of cupboards her family found in the alley, plus scrap lumber. . . . . . . . Her Albany Park family has three hens and a rooster. Peek thought she had bought four hens, but the birds are hard to sex as chicks. So far, Peter, their rooster, hasn't disturbed neighbors with his early-morning crowing, Peek said. . . . . . The crowing is something urban chicken advocates caution against. It can be loud and annoying, Boyd said. . . . . . . The noise is in part is what motivated Chicago Ald. Lona Lane (18th) to try to prohibit chickens in Chicago last November. Lane has other concerns as well. She railed against the ritual slaughtering of chickens, which remains illegal, and she fears the birds might spread disease. . . . . . . "The stench and the smell from their feathers and their bodies—and they are not clean," she said a year ago. "Their debris and their waste are creating more rodents than there already are in neighborhoods." . . . . Lane lost the fight to outlaw the birds in Chicago's residential neighborhoods, but she said she is considering legislation after the holidays to ban the birds in the slice of Chicago she represents. . . . . . "All things considered, I think chickens honestly should be raised on the farm and not in densely populated areas such as the 18th Ward," Lane said about two weeks ago. . . . . Outside Chicago, chicken laws vary. Residents in Evanston and Elgin are prohibited from keeping the animals. In Orland Park, chickens are not allowed within 100 feet of schools, churches, public streets or other homes. Naperville chickens must remain 25 feet from other homes, and their coops and roaming grounds must be swept thoroughly at least once a day. . . . . Francine A. Bradley, a poultry extension specialist at the University of California at Davis, said fears about chicken-to-human contact are overblown. . . . . "Obviously, if there was a [disease] problem, the human and chicken bond wouldn't be as old and long-lived as it is," she said, adding that the birds produce far less waste than dogs or cats do. . . . . . She calls chickens "an inexpensive form of therapy"—peaceful, soothing animals that can be trained to ride on the handlebars of a bike. . . . . . "Chickens respond very well to kindness," she said. . .  . .author:


 . . . . From: . . . . . . . . Brunswick chickens out on ordinance . . . . . Originally published February 05, 2013 . . . . . . .By Karen Gardner . . . . . . News-Post Staff  . . . . . . . . BRUNSWICK -- Chickens are allowed in New York City, Baltimore and Chicago. But Brunswick will not be joining that list of cities in allowing a limited number of chickens kept in residential areas. . . . . . . .A group of residents hoped that Brunswick would consider adopting an ordinance to allow each household a limited number of chickens. The City Council voted against drafting an ordinance at its Tuesday night meeting. . . . . . . Chickens were once common in Brunswick, as in most areas of America, as a source of meat and eggs. But as cities modernized, farming and food sources became a mainstay of rural areas. . . . . . . With the rise of organic farming and the local food movement, many people are looking to raise their own chickens. is a resource for chicken owners in urban and suburban settings. . . . . . Some cities don't address the issue of chickens, said Jim Peck, director of research for the Maryland Municipal League. Frederick bans chickens and other livestock in residential areas. Thurmont, however, does not ban livestock. . . . . . . Steve Collings proposed the ordinance in August, and the council agreed to look into it. The city asked for feedback. Petitions brought many signatures, with the majority opposed. Collings proposed that an ordinance allow fewer than half a dozen chickens, but no roosters. . . . . . . Councilwoman Karin Tome and Councilman Wayne Allgaier were the only two of six council members in favor of drafting a chicken ordinance. . . . . . "We would have liked to have seen it go forward," Tome said Wednesday. . . . . . Councilman Tom Smith, who criticized the proposal when it was brought before the council, moved to oppose a draft chicken ordinance. . . . . . . Allgaier, a physician, said an ordinance allowing a limited number of chickens would benefit families who want to raise their own eggs. . . . . . . ."There were a lot of arguments about health and sanitation and pests, but I feel those things could be managed," he said. . . . . . .Health would be a concern if feed were left in the open and rats were attracted, but he said that could be addressed. . . . . . One resident asked an entomologist with the National Pest Management Association whether chickens could pose a health risk in Brunswick, and the entomologist wrote a letter saying there are health risks. . . . . . . . Collings had suggested that raising chickens would benefit children who are in local 4-H chapters. . . . . . . .Baltimore allows chickens but restricts households to four over the age of 1 month, with no pen closer than 25 feet to a residence. The pens must be kept clean, and the chickens must have access to shelter and water. . . . . . . .Tome hoped to see a pilot program approved, with six to eight people volunteering to raise a few chickens each for no longer than six to eight months, at their own expense. . . . . . The idea did not gain any support, however. got a mention on Sunset Magazine's website.  The mention was in a .pdf file found here: . . . . . . . The link to the .pdf file is here: . . . . . . . . The contents of the .pdf file is:    The One-Block FEAST  Copyright 2013 Sunset Publishing Corporation  living  local  *Sunset’s One-Block Feast:  cc   How to raise chickens What could be more idyllic than a flock of  hens happily clucking in your backyard? A growing  movement of people in cities and suburbs, not just  farmers, are raising chickens—and we’re right there  with them. We got six baby chicks in August of 2007  and raised them to provide eggs for our end-ofsummer  feast (, not  meat (we wanted protein we wouldn’t have to kill). A side benefit of raising chickens: their droppings,  which make great fertilizer for our garden. Plus,  chickens are unexpectedly entertaining (see for  yourself at Team Chicken’s blog: visit http:// and click on “Team Chicken”  under Categories.).  What We Raised  A Mixed Flock of Six  Chickens  + 2 Ameraucanas (Ophelia lays blue eggs,  Alana green)  + 2 Buff Orpingtons (Honey and Charlotte,  buff-colored eggs)  + 2 Rhode Island Reds (Carmelita and  Ruby, deep brown to bronze eggs)  Are Chickens Right for You? Before you  rush out to the feed store and get your  baby chicks (adorable balls of fluff), you need to evaluate your space and your lifestyle.  Questions to Answer  Does your city allow you to keep chickens?  Every city has its own rules about  this. Our particular municipality (Menlo  Park, CA) lets us keep hens, but not roosters.  That’s fairly common in cities: Many  have no problem with a few hens (usually  classified as pets), but they ban noisy  roosters. Check your local regulations  before getting any animals; it would be  dreadful to get them and then have to get  rid of them.  Do you have the space? Each chicken  should have 10 square feet to run around  in, plus 4 square feet of house. For a flock  of six, that’s a 6- by 10-foot yard and a 4-  by 6-foot house.  Can you keep them safe? Making their  digs secure is extremely important, especially  at night: Chickens are prey animals, and they sleep so soundly that they seem  unconscious—morsels waiting to be  devoured. They’re vulnerable to attack by  raccoons, skunks, foxes, weasels, and  other predators. Raccoons are particularly  nasty, and they’re particularly clever about  using their little nasty hands to get into  your coop. Also, keep in mind that your  other pets (cats, dogs) may be predators.  (Details below on how to build a secure  chicken coop.)  . . . .  What will do you with them when they  stop laying eggs? Hens lay for four or five  years, but can live for eight (or more).  What will you do if one gets injured or  sick? Locate a vet in your area before you  acquire your flock—preferably one who’s  familiar with chicken health problems. We  had a great experience with a local vet,  Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Altos, CA  (  Can you afford it? Yes, the eggs are practically  free, but setting up a coop costs a few  hundred dollars, and chicken food is an  ongoing though not large expense. Vet  bills also add up quickly, so you should  have the means to pay for a visit to a vet if  a chicken should get injured or sick, or be  prepared to dispatch it yourself.  What We Used  Materials, Prices, and  Sources  The coop Encompasses both the house  and the enclosed run where chickens  scratch around and spend the daylight  hours.  cc  Most of the work in raising chickens  is setting up their space. Chickens need a  box to lay their eggs (at least 2 for 6 chickens),  a secure house with a roost for them  to sleep on, and a place to run around and  do their chicken thing.  The house should have at least 4 square  feet per laying hen. That’s much less than  you’re thinking; a flock of 6 chickens needs  a structure that’s only 6 feet by 4 feet. We  got ours from Wine Country Coops. Their  houses are luxurious (glass windows!  high-quality wood! beautiful construction!),  but pricey ($1,500 and up; country or 707/829 8405). You can  get a less-posh chicken house at a feed  store, or you can build one yourself. Find  inspiration here: www.backyard  The yard Allow 10 square feet per hen.  (You need less room in your run if you let  your chickens free-range; we don’t,  because they would eat the seedling  plants in our test garden.) We made ours  with lumber (2-by-4s, to act as posts);  chicken wire stretched over the posts and  buried 12 inches into the ground to keep  digging predators at bay; and a corrugated,  translucent plastic top to allow  light in but keep the chickens dry in foul  weather. The door to the chicken house  leads right into the yard, so the coop is  AThe One-Block FEAST  Copyright 2008 Sunset Publishing Corporation  living  local  2  completely enclosed and protected. (About  $200 in supplies.)  For chicks  Unless otherwise mentioned, we  purchased everything below from Half  Moon Bay Feed ? Fuel (www.halfmoonbay or 650/726-4814). You can  also order online: www.western ranch  A warm indoor location We used a storage  shed on the Sunset grounds.  Heat lamp, reflector, bulb, and clamp  Until they have feathers, chicks need to be  kept very warm. About $20.  Wire cage to keep the chicks in for the first  few weeks of their lives. We preferred the  type with the door at the top, because it  made reaching in easier. From $90.  Plastic 1-gallon water fount Its narrow lip  keeps the chicks from drowning; also it’s  hard to tip over. About $5.  Chick feeder We got a metal one with a top  to keep the chicks from scratching their  food right out; the top has holes large  enough to give access to the food. About $5.  Chick starter Finely ground, high-protein  (20%) mixture of grains that a chick should  eat from the time you buy it (anywhere  from 2 days old to 1 week, typically) until it  is 8 to 10 weeks old. Medicated chick  starter helps stave off the nasty parasitic  infection called coccidiosis. $18.81 for a  50-lb. sack; organic is $32.50 for a 50-lb. sack.  Chick scratch Not vital for their nutrition,  but they love it. A finely ground mix of  milo, corn, and wheat. $18.81 for a 50-lb.  sack (organic not available at Half Moon  Bay Feed ? Fuel).  Electrolytes Dissolve in the chicks’ drinking  water according to package instructions.  Shores up their frail systems with  nutrients. Especially important if the  chicks are sick or stressed from traveling.  OK to give up until 8 to 10 weeks. $3.99 for  an 8-oz. packet (enough for more than 100  gallons of water).  For adult chickens  Unless otherwise mentioned, we  purchased everything below from Half  Moon Bay Feed ? Fuel (www.halfmoonbay or 650/726-4814). You can  also order online: www.western ranch  Water and food dispensers These galvanized  steel 5-gallon dispensers hang from  the roof of the coop and provide a steady  source of food and water to the chickens.  $30 each.  Layen (layer) crumble Less protein than  chick starter and a coarser formulation;  begin feeding at 8 to 15 weeks.   This is the  chickens’ main food for life. If you like, you  can give it to them in pellet form instead,  to reduce waste (the granular stuff tends  to fly out of the food dispenser). Crumble,  $16.12 per 50-lb. sack; pellets, same price.  Organic, $26.95 for both crumble and pellets,  50-lb. sack. A good mail-order source for  organic layer pellets is Modesto Milling in  Empire, CA (  $21.42 for 50 lbs.  Coarse-ground oyster shells Strew a  couple of handfuls on the yard’s floor a few  times a week for chickens to peck up.  Strengthens the eggshells, which otherwise  can be weak and rubbery. $12 for  50 lbs.  Cracked corn To chickens, it’s like candy. A  high-energy food, it also helps them stay  warm in winter. About $19 for a $50-lb. bag.  Treats from the garden and the kitchen Chickens love leafy greens, anything  wilted, fennel and dill, arugula (their favorite),  cilantro stems, chile seeds, weeds  that we pick from the garden (especially  anything in the dandelion family and wild  grasses), plain yogurt, apple cores, overripe  strawberries and other fruit, and  insects they find in the dirt, plus worms.  We avoided  giving them meat so as not to attract rats  —and because we think it’s creepy — but  chickens are omnivores and will eat just  about anything.  How We Did It  A Step-by-Step Guide  1. Buying chicks We got our chickens as  sexed chicks from Half Moon Bay Feed ?  Fuel ( or  650/726-4814). “Sexed” means that the  store’s staff were pretty sure that they  were girls. Also, they came vaccinated for  Marek’s disease, a terrible, fatal poultry  disease.  Getting chicks is a common way to  start, partly because chicks are so darn  cute and partly because it can be a challenge  to find laying hens to buy.  2. Indoors: Keeping the chicks alive for  the first few weeks was a fun kind of  bustle. Chicks need a warm, indoor location  (we kept them in a shed) and a heat  lamp until they start to feather out. We  visited them several times a day, making  sure that the heat lamp was not too warm  or too cool (ideal temperature: 90? F.),  that they had food and water, and that  their cage was not too much of a mess.  Also, we picked them up and patted them  a lot to get them used to us. It worked: As  adults, the hens are friendly and easy to  handle.  3. Outdoors: At four weeks, they were  fully feathered, the sign that they are  ready to leave the nest, so to speak. It was  September in the Bay Area and balmy  when we took them out to their coop at  the far end of our test garden. During the  cold months, we kept the heat lamp inside  their house for extra warmth at night.  The first egg, a long-awaited event,  appeared in January, courtesy of Ophelia;  over the next several weeks, the others  followed. Most chickens will begin to lay  somewhere between 18 and 24 weeks,  depending on the chicken and the weather  — moderate warmth encourages laying.  4. Day-to-day maintenance As adolescents  and adults, chickens don’t require  that much care. They need to have fresh  water and food available all the time, so  check it daily.  Clean the coop about once a month.  More often if it gets smelly faster. We  initially used straw as bedding and on the  floor of the coop, but now have moved to  wood chips, since we have one chicken  who likes to eat straw. We also hose out  the house, which gets filled with droppings. We compost the droppings.  Collect eggs every day or so. Not only  because you want to eat them, but  because egg buildup can encourage  broodiness (a condition in which a hen  The One-Block FEAST  Copyright 2008 Sunset Publishing Corporation living  local  3  refuses to get off the nest, hoping to hatch  chicks). Also, the more eggs in the nesting  box, the more likely they are to crack  against each other. . . . .   Beyond the basic minimum of care, we  recommend daily visits because it’s enjoyable  to go see our ladies. Plus, regularly  bringing them treats and petting and picking  them up helps them get used to  human presence, and makes it easier to  handle them if you’ve got a sick chicken  you need to check out, for example.  Helpful Info  Your local feed store. Some companies  will mail you chicks, such as Mc Murray  Hatchery ( murray,  but for beginning chicken-raisers, it’s  better to get them at a feed store. Not only  is it reassuring to pick up your cheeping  chicks in person, but feed stores also have  helpful, knowledgeable employees who  can be valuable resources.  The forum at Backyard  No matter what weird problem you’re  having, someone else has had it first. If  you’re looking for practical advice and real  anecdotes, this is the best resource on the  Web. Sifting through the active message  board at will get  you up to speed on what to worry about,  what not to worry about, and what to do  next.  More chicken talk and advice:  http://www.thecitychicken/  simpleliving/chickens.shtml  Online coop retailers and supplies: pet  http://www. omlet. us/homepage/  homepage.php  Extra Notes  . . . . . Chickens are not like other pets When  bringing any live animal into your life, you  assume a certain amount of risk. Puppies can get sick. Bad things can happen to a  healthy cat.  But your relationship with your chickens  will likely be somewhat different than  with ordinary domestic pets.  For one thing, in all likelihood, you eat  others of their species. Maybe even every  day. Some people who raise backyard  chickens find that they lose their interest  in eating meat. Others, after observing  chickens’ behavior and really getting to  know them, decide that they feel okay  about meat.  In our experience, chickens do not have  the emotional range of cats or dogs. We’ve  spent a lot of time with our chickens, and  we’re pretty sure that they don’t recognize  us. They don’t really like to be held; their  enjoyment of petting seems like a reflex  more than pleasure. If you are looking for  a cuddly creature with whom you will have  an emotional relationship, chickens may  not be the most rewarding option.  This is not to say that we don’t like our  chickens. We enjoy them very much. We  like to watch them scratch around and  feed them treats in the afternoons. We like  their eggs a lot.  Regardless of your philosophical feelings  about whether or not your chickens  are pets, you need to make sure that you  have a plan about what to do in case one  gets sick or injured. Not all vets can or will  treat chickens.  Also, not everyone who raises backyard  chickens chooses to treat them when they  get sick. Some people will euthanize their  own sick or injured animals; others have a  friend, family member, or neighbor who is  willing to do it in an emergency.  Eggs: Questions and  Answers  Q: Do you need a rooster for eggs?  A: Chickens lay eggs with or without the  presence of roosters. Since we don’t have  a rooster (they’re not allowed in Menlo  Park), the eggs are not fertilized, which  means that they will never hatch into  chicks. (This is just as well, because we’re  not really in the market for any more  chickens.) If we did have a rooster, the eggs would be fertilized while they were,  ahem, still in the hen; the rooster doesn’t  do anything to eggs once they’ve been  laid.  Q: Do colored eggs taste different?  A: Different varieties of chickens lay different  colors of eggs. Our Ameraucanas lay  blue-green eggs; the other four lay brown  eggs of varying shades. All of them taste  exactly the same, and wonderful.  Q: How many eggs do you get a day?  A: Our chickens usually lay one egg a day.  Chickens used in industrial agriculture lay  two eggs a day.  Q: What do you do with the eggs?  A: We give them to staff members. We  originally thought we’d use them in our  test kitchen, but they’re different than  supermarket eggs — a little smaller, with  more tender whites and richer yolks —  and so they throw our recipe testing off.  


From . . . . . Chickens increasingly popular pets in urban, suburban neighborhoods . . . . . . .By Judy Keen, USA TODAY . . . MADISON, Wisconsin . . . . . Dennis Harrison-Noonan's backyard has hollyhocks, a vegetable garden, space for Graham the dog to explore and a fancy red-roofed chicken coop with flowers in its window box. . . . . . .He doesn't live on a farm or even in a rural area. He lives on a winding residential street on the north side of the city. The four hens that occupy the coop are part of a growing trend: city-dwellers who keep chickens in their yards as pets or for the eggs they produce. .. . . . .Dozens of cities have recently enacted ordinances regulating urban chickens. Harrison-Noonan, 51, a carpenter, got his after the Madison Common Council voted in 2004 to allow residents to have up to four hens. They must be kept 25 feet from neighbors' homes, and noisy roosters and backyard butchering are banned. . . . . . . The city issued 12 permits in 2004; 29 in 2005; 43 last year; and 39 this year. Chicken owners say many more people keep chickens without the permits. . . . . . Some people would like to increase the four-bird limit to as many as a dozen, though they haven't asked the city to consider that. "Six or eight would be a good number," says David Waisman, 33, a sustainability consultant who with his wife, Molly, 32, keeps chickens behind their garage. . . . . . . . "Some people think it's pretty radical" to raise chickens in the city, she says, but the Waismans love the fresh eggs, and their son, Arlo, 22 months, is learning food doesn't come just from stores. . . . . . . .'They reconnect us with nature' . . . . . . ."There's a new and increased interest in chickens and the keeping of chickens," says David Favre, a law professor at Michigan State University who specializes in animal law and raises Icelandic chickens on his 100-acre farm. . . . . . . The trend reflects "a counterpoint to the industrialization of animals," Favre says. "It just doesn't seem right to a lot of people that these animals are raised in confinement." . . . . . . Harrison-Noonan had chickens when he was growing up in Missouri and was reminded of their appeal when he and his family were missionaries in Chile in the 1990s. "They reconnect us with nature," he says, "and it's a matter of food security. Some people have a pistol under their pillow for security; I have chickens in my backyard." He designed and built his coop and sells the plans online. . . . . . . His neighbors, frequent recipients of eggs, don't object, Harrison-Noonan says, but some worried when the hens moved in. "There was concern at the beginning that they would be loud and dirty, and they didn't want them in our neighborhood," he says. . . . . . Some neighbors are never won over. Bill Bryant, a retiree in Evansville, Ind., has been battling his neighbors since they moved 10 chickens into their yard 1? years ago. After an ordinance passed in December limited the number of chickens allowed to six, the neighbors got rid of some, including a rooster, Bryant says. . . . . . The remaining birds roam the neighbors' entire yard and their clucking is disruptive, he says. He asked the city's animal control board this week to tighten the ordinance to require that the chickens stay 50 feet from Bryant's property. "I'm upset about it," he says. "You can't have friends over and grill out without embarrassment, and chickens next door are not an asset when you sell property." . . . . . . Many cities' zoning regulations don't address backyard chickens, but their popularity has prompted some cities to regulate them for the first time. Rogers, Ark., passed an ordinance last summer limiting residents to four hens and requiring that they stay 25 feet from neighbors' property. An ordinance took effect last month in Bloomington, Ind., that allows up to five hens. Owners must get neighbors' approval, says Laurie Ringquist, animal care and control director. . . . . . Worries of bird flu . . . . . . Fears of avian flu, a virus that can infect people who have close contact with sick birds, make some people wary of backyard chickens.. . . . . Gary Riggs, a veterinarian in Barberton, Ohio, who specializes in birds, says backyard chickens are at higher risk for avian flu because they are not "under the intense bio-security control that commercial producers have." It's a good idea for cities to require permits, he says, so they can react quickly if there's a flu outbreak. . . . . .Chickens can get parasites and other ailments, Riggs says, but if owners keep an eye on their birds' health, "the risk is minimal." . . . . .Key West, Fla., where chickens wander freely, has a contingency plan to destroy its birds if there's a confirmed case of avian flu. The resort island's biggest problem, says acting city manager John Jones, is controlling the chicken population. . . . . . . There are about 2,000 chickens in Key West, Jones says, and the city is trapping them to reduce the flock to 800 or 900. "We're not killing them," he says. "We're sending them to farms." . . . . . Katy Skinner, who has five chickens in her yard in Yacolt, Wash., and operates a website,, says they are easier to care for than a dog. "I find them to be nature's Valium," she says. "When I go out and watch them, I instantly calm down." She once kept one on an apartment patio. "I don't recommend that," she says. "They get lonely."

ccFrom . . . . . Envisioning the End of ‘Don’t Cluck, Don’t Tell’  . . . . By PETER APPLEBOME . . . . . Published: April 29, 2013  . . . . .NEW HAVEN . . . . . In the modest backyard of Rosemarie Morgan’s 1890-era house, about a half-mile from Yale University, there is a small Buddha, azalea and forsythia, Japanese cherry and plum trees, and an Amish-made chicken coop with five residents — four who lay eggs and Gloria, who is barren but one heck of a watchdog. . . . . The fowl are technically illegal under New Haven’s zoning code, which prohibited raising hens and other livestock when it was updated during the 1950s. But these days, many dozens of backyard hens are generally tolerated under the city’s informal enforcement program — call it don’t cluck, don’t tell — that mostly looks the other way.    With urban fowl increasingly common, Alderman Roland Lemar has introduced legislation that would allow residents to raise up to six hens. . . . . . . .Ms. Morgan, a Victorianist at Yale who specializes in Thomas Hardy and grew up with backyard fowl in England and Scotland, may not be the face of modern agriculture. But she’s a perfect representative of a tiny sliver of it — the vogue for urban farming that has cities around the country updating and tweaking zoning codes. . . . . . To Ms. Morgan — whose other Rhode Island reds and hybrids are named Brunnhilde, Tosca, Carmen and Mimi — the zoning fight is a little baffling. . . . . . “It’s seems extraordinary to me that you could have a cat or a dog or a caged bird, but you can’t have a chicken,” she said the other day, sprinkling corn in the yard for her little brood. “Slightly barbaric really.” . . . . . Of course, not many New Haven residents or Yale professors were raising chickens a few years ago. But some combination of the locavore craze, the growth of immigrant communities with traditions of raising hens and the recession making the idea of free eggs or milk in the backyard attractive, cities and suburbs around the country are reviewing all manner of critter ordinances. . . . . . Seattle recently allowed residents to have up to three goats. Minneapolis just legalized beekeeping. . . . . . .At the center of the Brave New World of urban ag is the humble hen, whose care and keeping is the subject of Web sites like,,, or Just Food’s City Chicken Meetup NYC, which has 101 hen-friendly members in New York. . . . . . Ms. Morgan, whose East Rock neighborhood was once known as Goatville, took up raising hens when she lived in the Berkshires and, along with some friends, resumed it when she moved back to New Haven seven years ago. She likes the fresh eggs and the link to our vanished natural past. She’s very fond of her feathered friends, who eat bugs and mosquitoes and don’t make much noise other than a triumphant squawk when laying. . . cc. . . “The eggs are fabulous,” she said. “And it’s very emotionally fulfilling. They’re not exactly pets — they still have a wild way about them, but they’re very smart and easy to have around. And noise? They’re not as loud as blue jays, no worse than a cat’s meow, certainly quieter than a barking dog.” . . . . . . Most municipalities are much less hospitable to roosters (consider that next door every dawn) than hens. But the clear trend is toward being more permissive. Jennifer Blecha, who did a doctoral dissertation on people’s attitudes about urban livestock, surveyed the zoning codes of 81 American cities and found 53 allow hens, 16 prohibit them and 9 make no mention. In general, Ms. Blecha said, cities are much more tolerant of domestic livestock than suburbs. . . . . “People like the idea of I take care of them, and they take care of me,” she said, explaining that the personal agrisystem of feeding food scraps to chickens that, in turn, produce breakfast, has enormous appeal. . . . . . . Of course, not everyone is happy. New Haven’s head of code enforcement does not like the idea of adding chicken coop inspection to his portfolio. On the New Haven Advocate’s Web site, one resident lamented the presence of “these foul, filthy, half flying, eat anything rats in the East Rock nabe.” And any health scare involving animals — see: swine flu — can lead to a pushback, though advocates say the real threat is from factory farming, not small urban populations. . . . . . Owen Taylor of Just Food, which promotes local agriculture in New York, said the key is for people to explain their plans to their neighbors, so they know what to expect. He praised New York’s codes, which deal with potential bad behavior (smell, noise, rodents) rather than the existence of the hens, for allowing responsible fowl behavior and punishing those who create a nuisance. Citing New York street wisdom, he added, “You deal with it on a coop by coop basis.” . . . . E-mail:

ccFrom April 1, 2013 . . . The Buffalo News. . . .  I don’t want to get egg on my face, but I have to admit it. When I heard about the West Side lady with the chicken coop, my first thought was, "No way." Opening the city's doors to chicken coops seemed like a step back to a time when folks just off of the boat, and one step from starvation, kept hens to put eggs on the table. . . . . . I had visions of smelly, cackling birds running across a muddy plot. I imagined irate neighbors running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Then I took a look Tuesday at the deluxe coop de ville in Monique Watts' neatly tended yard. I found out that the seeds of an urban chicken-farming movement are spreading across the land. I hunted and pecked on the Internet for Web site. Finally, I realized: The sky is not falling. . . . . . A chicken on every plot is not regressive. It is progressive.. .Animal-control officers Saturday told Watts that it was against a city law to own hens. By Monday, she made sure her five fowl had flown the coop. The fugitives are brooding in an undisclosed location until the feathers stop flying. . . . . . "Hopefully the law will get changed and I won't have to give up my hens," Watts told me. "There are a lot of people who want to do this." . . . . . Watts is not some odd bird or clucky eccentric. She works in the fundraising office at Roswell Park. She and her husband, Blair Woods, are good eggs. They own Urban Roots Garden Center. They are among the bright, progressive urban warriors who — house by house — are reclaiming a threadbare West Side neighborhood. Watts thinks that the complaint about the coop came from a local drug dealer or slumlord whom they are putting the heat on. . . . . . Now they are part of a newly hatched national movement for fresher, more natural food. Chickens eat insect pests, their manure is great fertilizer, and they cluck — "no louder than a crow flying overhead," said Watts — only when about to lay. . .cc . . . I know what some folks are thinking: I would not want a chicken coop next-door to me. At first, I felt the same way. But knowing what I know now, I would not hire a fox if the neighbors built a henhouse. . . . . . City after city across America is changing laws to allow fowl, with limits on the number (usually six) and type (no noisy roosters). Buffalo is late to put its eggs in the basket, as about two-thirds of American cities reportedly allow backyard chickens — mostly for eggs, not slaughter. Madison, Wis., boasts more than 80 chicken owners. There are ways to do it that keep neighbors happy. Like dogs, hens need to be registered and — this should make our fee-hungry mayor happy — some places charge $25 for a permit. . . . . . I asked Watts' next-door neighbors if they were bothered by the coop, which has been there for nine months. . . . . . "I didn't know they had chickens," Lisa Ho said. "It doesn't bother us at all." . . . . . I am happy to report that the attitude of city officials is refreshingly tolerant. Whereas once the likely reflex was to slaughter the birds and send in the bulldozer, now there are open ears and minds. David Rivera, the Council member, formed a "chicken task force" to look into what other places have done. . . . . . "We want to make sure we do this right," said Rivera, "and factor in health and neighborhood considerations." . . . . . For Watts, chickens cross the road from livestock to pets, with distinct personalities. Buttercup is a big eater; Effie is adventurous; Minnie is the beauty; Tilda is small and sweet; and bossy Meg is tops in the pecking order. Watts looks forward to the day when the fugitives can resume their "eggcellent" adventure in the backyard coop. . . . . . There are plenty of ways to rebuild a city. The universal message: Don't put all your eggs in one basket.


ccOn The City Chicken Phenomenon . . . . . . . Submitted by Erika M. on Mon, 04/20/2013 . . .  . . Three weeks ago I finally took the plunge and bought four baby chicks from the feed store.  Two Buff Orpingtons, one Rhode Island Red, and one Black Star.  Maybe it's "red car syndrome" (if you buy a red car, suddenly you notice red cars everywhere) but suddenly articles about chickens are everywhere. . . . . . . . I live in the country, but my chickens most closely represent City Chickens, in that they are going to be pets.  My various mailboxes (email, voice mail, and post office) have been flooded with articles forwarded by friends and family on the "growing trend" of raising chickens in the city. . . . . . . . I put this trend down to four things: . . cc. . . . . 1.    Seasonality - baby chicks are traditionally sold in springtime.  This is partly a hold-over from the Bad Old Days, when parents would buy their kids baby chicks as Easter presents.  (A hearty WTF on that one.)  And partly due to agricultural tradition.  Although there's no reason why you couldn't raise and sell baby chicks any time of year, springtime is when people are going to look for them.  You don't want off-season chicken overstock, if you're a feed store. . . . . . . . 2.     Incongruence - it's chickens!  In the city!  The news never tires of stories about incongruence.  City chickens are the "skateboarding dog" of the urban news reporter. . . . . . . . 3.    Recession - I have noticed that almost all of these articles use the bad economy as an underpinning, the hook upon which they hang the city chicken phenomenon.  Most of these articles start out with a phrase like "in these tough economic times" or the equivalent. . . . . . . . 4.    Actual Trending - this is the weakest of the four factors, if you ask me.  I have been hearing about city chickens for at least five years now, ever since the "eat local" thing really started taking off. . . . . . The truth is that the American homeowner's lifestyle is almost perfectly adapted for city chickens.  Chickens don't need very much space (compared to, say, goats or horses).  They regularly produce something that you can eat (eggs) for very little effort or involvement on your part.  (As compared to a goat or cow, which will only give milk when she has a calf - requiring the owner to knock up their pet once a year, then figure out what to do with the grown baby.)  A chicken's ideal habitat consists of a fenced yard, and fortunately America is chock full of fenced yards. . . . . . . . Environmental activists have been railing against the American habit (in some places, requirement) for lawns as a yardscape.  A lawn is a big empty patch of nothing, a null void in ecological terms, but one which is heavily dosed with an assortment of chemicals to keep it pristine.  Chickens help fill that void, and perform the handy trick of making it produce eggs that you can eat.  What's not to like?

ccccFrom . . . .September 14, 2013. . . . . .  . . . . . . The scene is awe-inspiring and deeply disturbing. Hundreds, if not thousands, of figures stretch into the distance until they are just a blur of humanity, indistinguishable in their face masks and uniform pink overalls, blue aprons and white rubber boots. . . . . . . . . .Each anonymous worker hunched over his or her identical task is equipped with a knife, a weighing machine and a tray for chicken parts. . . . . . . . . .They are evenly spaced along row upon row of conveyor belts under brilliant strip lighting in a shed the size of several aircraft hangers. . . . . . . . . .This is the inside of the Jilin Deda factory, situated on Road 102 in Dehui City, China. . . . . . . . . .It is one of the largest poultry-processing plants in the world, and 375,000 chickens are slaughtered, plucked, dismembered and packaged here each working day. . . . . . . . . .That is 100 million birds every year, and the plant's speciality, in the unappetising jargon of the meat industry, is the production of "frozen bone-in and boneless chicken parts". . . . . . . . . .Most of the produce from the bird carcasses hanging on the hooks on the right of the photograph is consumed on the domestic market. . . . . . . . . .But chicken meat 'processed' in this shed is exported to 20 other countries, including Switzerland, Germany, South Africa, Russia and Japan. . . . . . . . . .It is sold in bulk either for further processing   the company has two 'ready food' processing factories or for subsequent distribution to shops. . . . . . . . . .The one million square metre operation, employing more than 11,000 staff, is located in Jilin province, one of China's poorest, hard up against the borders of Russia and North Korea. . . . . . . . . .Every aspect of the production, from the breeding and rearing of the birds to the growing of their feed, is taken care of on-site by this agro-industrial giant. . . . . . . . . .But while it generates ?6 million annual profit for its owners a joint venture partnership between the Chinese authorities and a Thai food-processing company and its executives earn Western-style salaries and bonuses, the Deda workers you can see here are paid the equivalent of ?31 a month, the region's minimum salary. . . .cc . . . . . .This compares very poorly even with the ?673 average annual income for Jilin as a whole, which is itself less than half the figure earned on average by the citizens of China's capital, Beijing. . . . . . . . . .Depending on your viewpoint, this striking image, taken by Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, is either a vision of industrialised hell or a testament to Chinese economic vitality. . . . . . . . . .In the first half of this year the country's annual economic growth rate was running at an extraordinary 11 per cent. . . . . . . . . .At that rate, China should overtake the United States as the world's predominant industrial power in our lifetime; indeed, as the country opened up to a more capitalist approach, China's poultry-processing sector increased 36-fold in a decade. . . . . . . . . .It stands second in the world only to its U.S. counterpart. . . . . . . . . .At what cost, though, to the lowly Chinese factory workers, far from the high rise towers and glass canyons of booming Shanghai  And at what cost to the world as a whole   . . . . . . . . .Some might argue that as we in the West seek to move away from factory farming and mass food production towards a more organic, healthier, less cruel approach, China has more basic concerns: the country has to eat. . . . . . . . . .There are 1.3 billion mouths to feed, a figure which is set to rise to 1.5 billion by the year 2040. . . . .cc . . . . .In recent decades, tens of millions have deserted the countryside for the cities, where there is little or no room for their staple backyard poultry. . . . . . . . . .With such a ready and voracious demand from the urban masses, the chickens you see being prepared for sale were 'intensively farmed'. This means they were reared in factory-style conditions. . . . . . . . . .Animal rights activists have long expressed their opposition to the way in which southeast Asia's giant poultry-processing operations are run. . . . . . . . . .But in the past two years that concern has been shared by some within the medical profession, as the bird flu strain H5N1 spread across Asia into Europe, amid fears of a human pandemic. . . . . . . . . .Three south-east Asian poultry workers have died in the outbreak. Some experts have blamed it on the poor hygiene of intensive poultry farming methods employed in China and neighbouring countries. . . . . . . . . .For the workers at Jilin Deda, however, there is little alternative. Theirs is a poor backwater and foreign investors go there only because the labour is so cheap. . . . . . . . . .Despite the economic boom that has swept even this province as part of the 'China miracle', only 4 per cent of people in Jilin have internet access and only one in every 200 has enough money to run a car. . . . . . . . . .They may have yet to reap the benefits, but their employers have not been slow to catch up with the PR speak and spin of this brave new world even if the reality is different. . . . . . . . . ."Satisfying clients, profiting the company, contributing to the society," is the business motto of the Jilin Deda company. . . . . . . . . .Its website goes on to state: "We sincerely wish to be hand in hand with people from all walks of life to create a beautiful future for all of us." . . . . . . . . .For the present, for tens of thousands of provincial Chinese, life is a uniform of pink overalls, blue aprons and matching face masks and boots, and mind-numbing work rewarded by a few pence an hour.

ccChicks flying out the coops as Portlanders flock to suppliers . . . . . by Jacques Von Lunen, Special to The Oregonian  . . . . . Tuesday April 14, 2013, 6:28 AM . . . . . Beth Nakamura/The OregonianSalchow the hen has been trained to make small flying leaps for food, says owner Lisa Ewing (right). Kendra Hellweg offers the bird a perch. . . . . . The chirping of 70 of the cutest, fluffiest chicks you ever saw filled Pistils Nursery last Tuesday. Customers in the store on Northeast Mississippi Avenue took turns cooing over the newborn birds.  . . . . . Two days later, the store was quiet again. All of the chicks had been sold. . . . . . The slow economy has egged on Portlanders' already strong do-it-yourself mentality and created an unprecedented demand for chickens, as more urbanites discover the benefits of companion animals that produce free breakfast.  . . cc. . . More about chickens . . . . . Before you rush out and set up that coop, check with your city on what regulations it has about keeping chickens. Here are some. . . . . . Portland: You can keep up to three hens without a permit as long as they live in sanitary conditions and don't cause obnoxious smells. Permits for more hens are $30; adequate facilities are required. . . . . . Vancouver: You can keep as many hens as you like as long as they are healthy and safe and don't cause odor. No eggs can be sold without a permit.  . . . . . Beaverton: Chickens are prohibited except as pets inside the house. . . . . . Hillsboro: Chickens are prohibited with this exception: You may apply for a permit if you live on a single-family one-acre lot along the floodplain or at the city's outer edges. The city is reviewing this policy; changes are not expected before 2010.  . . . . . Information about raising chickens:  . . . . . Information about chicken breeds: The ICYouSee Handy-Dandy Chicken Charts . . . . . Pistils sold about 600 chicks last year, said manager Mandie Rose. This year, they're selling about twice as fast.  . . . . . "So many chickens," she said. "You can't even imagine."  . . . . . Other chicken suppliers around town are seeing the same trend. Linnton Feed ? Seed, which caters to the rural as well as the urban egg producer, gets a shipment of about 150 chicks every week. This year, they're usually gone in a day, said Bob Gentner, an employee at the industrial Northwest Portland store.  . . . . . Hatcheries are having a hard time keeping up with demand. . . . . . Dunlap Hatchery in Caldwell, Idaho, a supplier to several stores in Portland, used to take about two weeks to fill an order, said spokeswoman Angie Dunlap. Now the supplier is sold out for two months.  . cc. . . . A one-day seminar titled "Raising City Chickens" at Portland Community College filled up so fast in the winter that two dates are available for the spring term. The Avian Medical Center in Lake Oswego had to add a second run to its "Clickin' Chicken" class, and clinic staffers say they're seeing about twice as many clients with chickens as last year.  . . . . . So what makes these feathered friends so popular?  . . . . . "They're fun, rewarding and easy to take care of," said Suzette Pump, who teaches the PCC seminar. "We call them 'yard fish,' they're so relaxing to watch."  . . . . . Pump first got chickens so she could avoid eating eggs with hormones that she believed contributed to her mother's cancer. The battery hens that lay most mass-produced eggs are fed hormones and antibiotics to keep them productive.  . cc. . . . Pump also considered getting meat out of the deal. To make sure she'd be able to harvest that meat, she named the chickens Fried, Roasted and Barbecued.  . . . . . It didn't work.  . . . . . "I still got attached," Pump remembered, laughing.  . . . . . Her chickens can safely be called egg-laying pets now. Teaching a class this month, Pump talked about how excited her "ladies" get when she brings back a to-go box from a restaurant. They know they'll get treats, Pump said.  . . . . . Her chickens consider themselves equals of her two fierce-looking dogs.  . . . . . "When the Doberman runs up to the fence to bark, four chickens come running up behind him," Pump said.  . . . . . Like life on a farm . . . . . Aside from chickens' winning personalities, they offer a window into a simpler life. That's especially appealing for parents who want to raise their children in a farmlike environment, even if they live on a single lot in the city, said Rose, the Pistils manager.  . . . . . "About 75 percent of the buyers have kids," she said. "I know my daughter loves having them around." . . . . . It helps that it doesn't take a lot of investment to set up a backyard barnyard.  . . . . . The chicks at Pistils -- if you can get them -- cost $5.50. Feed and other supplies run about $5 a month, give or take, Pump said in her class.  . . . . . But before you run out and get chicks, make sure you know the regulations in your neighborhood and your city. No matter where in the metro area you live, one thing's for sure: no roosters.  . . . . . Then, consider what kind of chicken is right for you.  . . . . . Some breeds, such as White Leghorns and Golden Comets, are prolific layers, Pump said. Others lay a little less but are docile and playful pets. Australorp and Brahma chickens are examples of good playmates.  . cc. . . . Candidate breeds  . . . . . About 38 breeds are considered ideal for Oregon's climate, Ameraucana, Australorp, Brahma, Leghorn and Rhode Islands among them.  . . . . . Build a good coop for the chickens or buy a pre-fab chicken home. It's important to safeguard the hens from predators at night. Solid construction and long, skinny entranceways that keep out raccoons are essential.  . . . . . Store the chicken food in sealed totes so it doesn't attract vermin.  . . . . . Always wash hands with soap after handling chickens to avoid the salmonella bacteria, which birds can carry in feces and which can cause gastrointestinal problems. Oregon's public health veterinarian last week confirmed two cases of salmonella infection in people who had handled chicks.  . . . . . Get more than one hen. They're social animals and like company.  . . . . . Give the hens enough room. A minimum of 2 square feet is required for each hen. But really, chickens need more than that. Within Portland city limits, where you can keep up to three hens without a special permit, most backyards are probably big enough for those three.  . . . . . Last, but certainly not least: Give them something to do.   cc Hens are smarter than you think and, just like dogs and cats, they are healthiest when they have something to do. Learning tricks, for example.  . . . . . "If they were out on a farm and scratching for food, it'd be different," said Lisa Ewing, who teaches the "Clickin' Chicken" class in Lake Oswego. "But my girls are in a 6-by-6 run."  . . . . . Being the boss  . . . . . Pump, at PCC, said it's important to teach your chickens to come to you on command -- when you want to get them into the coop, when you need to examine an injury or when one strays outside your yard, for example.  . . . . . That's where the training comes in. Toepick, one of Ewing's hens -- they have ice skating-themed names -- gets excited as soon as Ewing holds out a yellow ball on a long handle. The hen picks at the ball, a clicker sounds and a treat follows.  . . . . . "The basic thing we teach them through food-based reward is to touch their beaks to the ball," Ewing said. "Then we can guide them across obstacles with the ball."  . . . . . Sure enough, Zamboni, a beautiful Bantam, strides across a little arched bridge in pursuit of the yellow ball and the accompanying treat.  . . . . . Salchow, a Silver Sebright, ups the ante for her fellow trainees: She flies across the room, from one person's arm to another's, to get her treat.  . . . . . Ewing said she's watched her hens come up with little games in the backyard after training sessions.  . . . . . "Seeing that they can do all these things gives people respect for their chickens," she said. "We're really only limited by the number of things we can come up with for them to do."  . . . . .  Jacques Von Lunen;


From . . . . . Pet chickens becoming quite the healthy, edible rage .........(Published Monday, June 4, 2013 10:25:01 AM CST)......... .By Colin Fly...... .Associated Press.........MADISON, Wis. - Tessa Lowinske Desmond awoke at her new east side property on a dense residential street to the sounds of her back gate creaking open slowly and suspiciously..........Desmond rustled her husband and jumped up to peek out her back window, where she found the culprit: five neighborhood kids gathered around her back fence, enthralled. They were watching Desmond's pet chickens - clucking, scratching and preening in the early morning sun.........."Everyone in the neighborhood is interested in the chickens," said Desmond, who inherited Big Rig and Buffy when she bought the property from friends in August. "They connect me to our community.".........Desmond is part of growing trend of people who raise the backyard fowl to learn about food sources, harvest fresh eggs and eventually consume the tasty birds.........."People have been keeping chickens for millennia and it's a skill that may seem novel to us right now but is actually something that is like gardening, something that our ancestors have been doing for a long time," said Karen Luetjen, executive director of Seattle Tilth, an organization devoted to urban gardening and food production. "Once the novelty wears off, it just makes sense to be able to produce your own food in the space that you have.".........Others noticed, too..........Backyard Poultry magazine was resurrected about a year and a half ago after being halted in the 1980s. Readership in the Medford, Wis.-based publication has skyrocketed compared to its other two animal magazines - sheep! Magazine and Dairy Goat Journal..........Publisher Dave Belanger said that the more than 50,000 subscribers exceeded their expectations tenfold.........."It's been phenomenally successful," editor Elaine Belanger said..........Katy Skinner, in Yacolt, Wash., has had chickens for the past 10 years in Washington and previously in Portland, Ore.........."They're crossover pets. They're not livestock, and they're not pets, but they give you fertilizer and eggs and they eat all your kitchen scraps," Skinner said. "They seem more practical than a dog or a cat. It makes people feel a little greener, doing something for the environment.".........Filmmakers Tashai Lovington and Robert Lughai have chronicled the chicken movement in Madison since it was illegal to have the birds as recently as 2003..........The couple had nine chickens in their home in southern Michigan in 1995 before moving to Colorado and eventually settling in Mount Horeb, Wis.........."There are all kinds of people doing this, but they tend to be educated, definitely interested in where their food comes from," Lughai said. "They tend to be people who have gardens in their backyards, interested in organic food.".........The biggest obstacle in owning backyard chickens is the differing laws from city to city. In New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, it's legal to own birds with limited restrictions.........."I've had calls from Lexington, Ky., Vancouver, British Columbia, towns in Alaska; many places are trying to get the city to permit chickens," Luetjen said. "I don't know when our municipal code was changed to include chickens as being permitted, but I know that there hasn't been any serious questioning of it in the last decade or so.".........But a progressive city like Madison didn't change its laws until three years ago, thanks to help from Bryan Whiting and Alicia Rheal, who live a few blocks from Desmond..........Rheal had owned farm animals in rural Dodgeville, about 40 miles west of Madison, but a nosy neighbor reported her to authorities on their suburban street saying that Rheal planned to slaughter the birds.........."No one knew if they were legal or not. They weren't," Rheal said..........So Rheal and Whiting had their chickens cross the road to hide at a friend's place - thus answering the age-old question and starting the "poultry underground" - and went to work changing the laws.........."Some people in Madison predicted it would never fly, like a chicken," Whiting said. "That's why I was really concerned that we get this thing passed without too much clucking.".........The issue drew a crush of publicity but passed anyway. Since the change to allow four birds per property, there has been a sharp influx of owners in Madison. The city has already issued about as many permits for the birds this year as last after a 48 percent increase in permits from 2005 to 2006. Many owners want the city to expand the limit to up to 12 birds..........Rheal and Whiting's chickens, back in the open, have been well-received. The next-door neighbors have their patio furniture up against the property line to watch the birds on warm evenings. Another neighbor complained about losing her view after Rheal and Whiting erected a new coop..........The two are also working to help write generic, chicken friendly legislation to change municipal codes where the birds still aren't allowed..........Meanwhile Desmond's husband, Matt, isn't enamored with chickens, but copes with his wife's obsession.........."My husband laughs because we get the New York Times, we get Time magazine, but he tells people, 'The only thing Tessa reads when she gets it is Backyard Poultry,"' Desmond said..........And among friends, the chickens stay in the spotlight.........."You always get questions with chickens," she said.  

Article original link: . . . . . . "Redefining farms, from roots to animals."  . . . by Nina Barone . . . . . . Organic garden, social network, and community in one, Joshua Reis’s budding farm operation on Buffalo’s East Side has permaculture ideals at its heart. When purchasing 226 East Utica from the city for $1, Reis set out to create a deeper, more meaningful place than an urban farm alone. . . . . . . . Originally from New Paltz, New York, Reis is a massage therapist, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and permaculture enthusiast. His childhood was spent in a community at the Center for Symbolic Studies in The Catskills, where he was introduced to native culture, mystical philosophies, and farms. The community was, Reis says, “a farm of ideas.” Sweat lodges, walking on hot coals, and spiritual study are not typically part of a sixteen-year-old’s existence, but they laid a foundation for Reis’ life, which includes a fervent interest in permaculture. . . . . . . . . As Reis explains it, permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It harmoniously integrates landscape and people to create economically and ecologically sustainable local communities. Through hands-on experience and education at the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute, Reis’s training runs the gamut, from soil building to utilizing appropriate technologies . . . . . . . . . . What Reis has designed here in Buffalo is not a farm as most know it. For starters, Reis and girlfriend Emily Gaines operate a nonprofit organization, the Capoeira Cultural Arts Center, from a renovated house on the property. African drum and dance, yoga, and the Afro-Brazilian martial art, Capoeira, will be practiced and offered. . . . . . . . . . . .After his formal studies, Reis traveled to Panama, Costa Rica, Columbia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, where he often “WWOOFed” it. WWOOF, an acronym for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is a network linking volunteers with organic farmers. In return for help, hosts offer food, accommodation, and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. Reis chose Brazil to practice Capoeira, which looks like breakdancing and sounds like folk music. With roots in African slavery in Brazil, Capoeira’s history is as complex and breathtaking as it appears. It utilizes dance, song, and combat; the last is thought of more as play than fight. . . . . . . . . . Reis hopes to get neighborhood kids involved via both the expressive arts, and in learning how to grow and cook food. Neighbors may not recognize the gardening design, but Reis trusts they will find it inviting. There are not rows of beds; instead, keyhole shapes enable gardeners to easily access plants for tending, picking, and interaction. They also allow more room to grow food. . . . . . . . . . .“There are no straight lines in the natural ecosystem—it’s moving,” says Reis. “‘Creating edge’ is a hot term in permaculture because there’s a culmination of things that happen at edges. Animals come up to the forests, natural fields butt up against water; there’s a lot of action.” . . . . . . . . . .Native farming follows the seven layers of a natural ecosystem: overstory canopy, namely large trees; smaller trees, which can sustain part shade; shrubs; herbaceous layer; ground cover; root crops; and climbers. The perimeter of Reis’s property boasts fourteen fruit trees—ten varieties of apples and four kinds of pears—utilizing “espalier,” the practice of pruning and growing trees in a shapes manageable for picking. Reis plans to cultivate hearty perennial vegetables, which require less attention than annuals, and mushrooms, including giant stropharia and shiitake, for both food and medicinal purposes. . . . . . . . . . . . .Reis knows which plants are symbiotic when planted near each other, so his garden forms an ecosystem rich with mutually beneficial relationships. This companion planting minimizes the need for external energy to feed plants, and the integration of animals achieves a closed loop system, where no other energy is required to sustain it. . . . . . . . . . . .Reis’s garden is evolving as he explores which farm animals to integrate into his ecosystem. A first step involves linking together a chicken coop, simple greenhouse, and a cordwood sauna. The sauna will heat the greenhouse, while chickens will weed, fertilize, and graze inside. Reis aims to have his chicks set up within the system this summer; he’ll also use a chicken tractor, which is essentially a bottomless cage. . . . . . . . . . . .“Chicken tractors are perfect for a small number of city chickens,” says Katy Skinner, owner of “The chickens can scratch and eat off of the ground, and you can drag or roll your chicken tractor around the yard if you want. Without a cage bottom, the manure goes directly onto the ground and becomes fertilizer.” . . . . . . . . . . .Monique Watts, director of development at Elmwood-Franklin School, credits her council member, David Rivera, with helping achieve legislation to raise chickens in the city in 2009: “He and his staff looked at all the angles and worked on an ordinance that was user-friendly for the neighbors.” . . . . . . . . . . .Now, Reis is part of a group hoping to achieve a similar agreement for raising other animals, including goats and bees, which aren’t yet qualified for the city. Reis says a collective is working on the task, and he wrote a personal letter to the city, noting templates used elsewhere. Goats will keep invasive species at bay because they eat everything, explains Reis, who also appreciates their craft, such as goat cheese. . . . . . . . . . . .“I decided to stay [in Buffalo] because it is so wide open and it can reinvent itself,” says Reis, “but it’s just slow to catch on to other ideas. I really think there’s enough open land to have rotational grazing, as they would in a natural landscape. They graze, poop, fertilize the land, and you can grow the next year. Then they move to the next property in this cycle of building the soil and providing food for the community. I know it’s far off to have cows in the city, but one day …”  . . . . . . . . . . .Nina Barone is a marketing-communications professional and adventurous home cook. You can read her blog at  


ccccThis article is from, March 2014, and was written by Michele McFarland. . .  . . . . .Coming Home to Roost . . . . . . . . .As domestic chicken coops rise in popularity, that clucking you hear just might be coming from your neighbor’s backyard. . . . . . . . . .By Michele McFarland . . . . . .. . .So you've decided to take the chicken plunge. The first step in the process is approval from the city, beginning with an exotic pet/multi-pet license application. The form is available in triplicate by calling the city's office of Animal Control, 410-396-4698. Include a one-time, non-refundable, $80 fee, and contact Animal Control, even before you have the chickens or the coop, for a home inspection. Simultaneously, register the still non-existent chicken flock with the Maryland Department of Agriculture ( [Note: PDF opens in a new tab/window]). Residents post their permit request for 10 days, and if no neighbors get their feathers in a ruffle, the chickens come home to roost. (The promise of free eggs never hurts.) To date, no city permits, even those contested, have been turned down. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Things are a little different in Baltimore County (laws vary among Maryland's jurisdictions). Owners still need to register with the state, but no county permit is required. And while the ordinance makes no reference to how many birds may be kept, or their living conditions, it does limit their existence to properties with more than an acre of land.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Pip, a gleaming, black, long-tailed Bantam rooster, is no ordinary chicken. He likes to climb the green-runged ladder of the family playset and slide down the lemon-yellow slide; he's treated to table scraps—like shrimp tails and birthday cake—and gets carried about the yard like a king. Because, you see, Pip lives not on a farm, but in a Baltimore County backyard. And he's not alone. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Backyard chickens are so this decade—cheaper to feed than a pot-bellied pig, more practical than Paris Hilton's Chihuahua, and appealing to our collective leaning toward all things organic, home-grown, and economically sound. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The city of Portland, OR, has so many chickens that two savvy women created Just Us Hens, the nation's first chicken-sitting service. Last October, a town near Boston hosted a "Tour de Coops" of local backyard chicken houses. Today, circulation at Backyard Poultry magazine is up dramatically, to 73,000 subscribers. And the trend has landed in Baltimore. . . . . . . . .cccc . . . . . . . . . ."I think more people should do it," says Charlotte L'Esperance, 43, of the city's Lake Walker neighborhood. She and her husband own a furniture design house, Gunnar Designs, where they fashioned a one-of-a-kind metal coop that resembles the end of an Airstream travel trailer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ."My husband grew up on a farm, and we would talk about how sheltered kids are today," she says. "They don't know where their food comes from." She notes that her 10-year-old daughter was once unaware that bacon came from a pig. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ."We thought that owning chickens would be a good way for her to see that food is not just from the grocery store." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .In Maryland, chickens can legally live on more than one acre in Baltimore County, or behind a row house in Baltimore City, which quietly passed its own urban chicken ordinance in October 2007. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Large-scale chicken farming is one of Maryland's top agricultural commodities, and quaint, pint-sized flocks are quickly becoming a top hobby, too. More than 3,000 backyard flocks exist throughout the state. Roughly 200 are in Baltimore County, which saw a 25 percent increase in registrations last year, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Twelve flocks have been issued permits in Baltimore City—eight of them in 2010. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .And those are just the birds that have been counted. According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, many owners are unaware of the requirement to register with the State to help prevent the spread of rare, but serious, poultry diseases, like avian flu. It's safe to assume that dozens of illegal chickens are fertilizing flower beds throughout the Baltimore area, their proper documentation as scarce as hen's teeth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .In his suburban kingdom, Pip spends a few hours each day eating ticks from the grass, "free-ranging" between the pea-gravel patio and the two-tone cedar garage with a half dozen regal-looking hens. Some are an attractive shade of auburn, sun-kissed with blonde highlights. One looks as if the tips of her silver feathers have been dusted in charcoal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .These are not the commercial grade, big-breasted, grocery store chickens that produce the eggs found in supermarkets. Backyard chickens, which can be purchased at local feed stores, are usually what they call "fancy" breeds, with their multi-colored feathers, distinctive combs, and beautiful eggs in soft colors like buff, teal, moss, and peony. (Martha Stewart was so enamored of the hues she designed an entire color palette—Araucana Sage for the dining room walls!—based on her own backyard flock.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Handled since birth, many of these chickens sport family-friendly dispositions and are easy to pick up and pet. They've been known to watch TV alongside their humans. One city chicken is so often brought indoors and indulged that she made it into the formal family portrait. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The birds are also renowned for their comedic antics. . . . . . . . . . . . cccc. . . . . . ."I've even had one that followed me around the yard like a dog," says Pip's owner, Sheila Muccio, a 45-year-old real estate appraiser who lives in Relay, near Patapsco State Park, with her husband and two children. "Just watch them. They're addictive." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .And health industry advocates claim that backyard eggs may be nutritionally superior, if the chickens are fed a diet rich in folic acids, amino acids, and omega-3 fatty acids. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ."I went through a period when I was really grossed out by eggs, especially the ones that came from factory farms," Muccio says. But she is so confident in the quality of her home-laid eggs, she keeps them unwashed and unrefrigerated on her counter in cooler weather, unconcerned about what diseases they could be harboring. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ."I've never gotten sick on my eggs, and I make raw eggnog every Christmas for 70 or 80 people," she says. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Cole Muccio bursts from the house, all parts of his eight-year-old body in motion but for his hand that gently cradles a greenish speckled egg. The Muccio family's six hens lay three-to-five eggs every day on a 21-day cycle in the former Far Niente wine carrier that serves as a nesting box in their hand-hewn coop. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Cole plays with the birds, flinging them over his shoulder, building them forts, and calling them names like Fluffy and Sleepy Spots. Both he and his sister Tess, 14, are encyclopedic in their knowledge of chickens: how to hatch the peeps, coddle them to adulthood, and feed them with a combination of grain, corn mash, table scraps, and grit (tiny pebbles that aid digestion). They are also well-versed in the lifecycle of a chicken, aware that age or illness, or more likely, a fox or dog or hawk, will get to one of the birds eventually. (Barring an unnatural act, a chicken can live to be about eight years old.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Loss, it seems, is one of the downsides to keeping chickens. Even in the city, raccoons artfully unhinge hooks and latches to steal into the hen house in the dark of night. Weasels are particularly macabre: they decapitate them, drink the blood, and often leave the carcass behind. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The chickens are not even safe from each other. The term "pecking order" derives from the chicken coop, where stronger birds attack if they sense weakness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Roosters, too, can be problematic, and are notorious for fighting one another, which is why small flock owners rarely keep more than one. (Not to mention that, contrary to popular opinion, roosters crow throughout the day, not just at dawn.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .To alleviate some of the negatives, roosters are banned altogether in Baltimore City. (Hens always lay eggs, even without a rooster around to fertilize them.) But city residents are able to keep up to four hens in a clean, moveable pen (to avoid the buildup of airborne pathogens), as long as it stays 25 feet from a neighboring residence. The birds must have access to food, water, shade, shelter, and veterinary care. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Roosters are not banned in Baltimore County, but housing chickens on less than an acre is verboten. . . . . . . . . . cc . . . . . . . .This rankles Jason James, 29, who created a Facebook page, "Chicken Revolution," to protest the county requirement. "There isn't a single compelling reason why one would need an acre of property to safely and humanely raise a small flock of laying hens," he says, adding that noise and odor, the most common neighborly concerns, are non-existent with a small flock. At press time, James's page had 140 followers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Another website,, proposes simple legislation supporting up to six birds for suburbanites with smaller lots, but so far, there's not been a peep from county officials. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .This spring, outlying feed stores—like Westminster's Tractor Supply Co. and The Mill stores in Hereford, Whiteford, and Bel Air—expect to be brimming with new chicken farmers ogling day-old hatchlings and asking about which birds will mature into the prettiest hens. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ."I can see, for somebody in the city, having chickens would give them a little bit of that country life feel in a small amount of space," says Kelly Vaughn, former retail manager of The Mill of Hereford, where, from late March until early June, Rhode Island Reds, Black and Red Sex-links, White Leghorns, Barred Rocks, and the colored-egg laying Ameraucanas and Araucanas are sold for roughly $3 each. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A baby chicken starter kit would run about $35 and should include warming lamps, mini-feeders, pine shavings, and feed. A plastic storage tub works for raising hatchlings indoors, where they can be easily handled, fed, and kept safe from varying temperatures and prey. Chickens are ready for an outdoor coop when fully-feathered. . . . . . . cc. . . . . . . . . . . .Coops range from plastic igloos to elaborate English Tudor replicas with prices that go from around $300 to $2,000 or more depending on the size and "amenities," like attached runs and removable perch boxes. But some crafty owners have been known to rehab discarded playhouses for their chicks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The idea of chickens as the family pet is certainly quaint, but as we all know, chickens are not only bred for eggs, they're bred for their meat, too. Eating a backyard chicken may not be for everyone, but it's not forbidden, either. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Eliza Gould, 35, lives on a Monkton farm, where her children—ages nine, seven, and four—distinguish the edible chickens from the laying hens. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ."The kids call them meat birds," says Gould, whose own parents began raising chickens when she was a teen. "The egg-laying birds are the ones that have names. Those are the ones the kids pick up and carry around." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chickens intended for eating tend to do quite a bit of eating themselves, about two pounds of feed for each pound they gain. But it's dinner at the back door for those with the inclination to slaughter and dress their birds at home, which is perfectly legal in Maryland as long as the chickens are consumed by the family and not sold for profit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Gould says she's killed, de-feathered, and gutted her Cornish-Rock hybrid chickens at home—once, as her children peered through a telescope from an upstairs window. But she prefers the two-hour drive to a Lancaster County farm that will slaughter the birds for $2.50 a piece. The farmer's daughters greet her at one side of the barn, in their Mennonite hats, long skirts, and bloody aprons. She picks up the cleaned and gutted birds about half an hour later, at the other end of the barn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The long, squawking trek is worth it, she says. "I just don't like doing it," she says. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Melissa Sobolewski, 20, of Parkton, also raises meat birds, Bantam Cornish Game Hens, for show. A chicken enthusiast her whole life, she joined a 4-H chicken program at the age of 14 and began to show the birds. Now she is a judge's assistant as well, and a member of a handful of local poultry breeders and fanciers associations. As a result, Sobolewski doles out invaluable chicken advice. Important to remember, she says, is that chickens are prone to disease when under stress, and they stress easily without proper care. So Sobolewski recommends that the birds have plenty of clean food, clean water, and good clean . . . entertainment? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ."They can get bored and anxious and antsy. That's when they start to pick at each other," she says. She routinely hangs lettuce leaves just out of reach of the birds. "They like to jump for it," she says. "They need an enrichment activity." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Perhaps that is why backyard chickens—pecking at toys in the sand box, watching TV with their families, and sunning themselves on the doghouse roof— are flourishing throughout Baltimore. And perhaps why Pip is loving life in the Muccio's backyard.

ccccFrom . .Written by: Zem Joaquin. October 3, 2013.From:  .  .  .  .  Community Coup: Chickens Are the New Dog.  I'm completely fascinated by a recent phenomenon that I have not only observed, I have become an unwitting participant as well.  It seems that chickens are the new dog.  There are a variety of breeds - some beautiful, some homely, but whichever someone has, they are apt to be fiercely protective of their flock.  Friends and associates are cordoning off space, whether it be a sprawling backyard field or a postage stamp city slicker's pen.  Facebookers are updating the status of their laying, Twitter is seeing a cacophony of tweets about how to look after this canine replacement and entire sites are being devoted to the care of these domesticated birds (see,, and  While the trend of urban poultry farming is clearly on the rise (without firm national statistics, we can point to the upwards of 30k members on sites like, with an average of 100 new members a day!), the most interesting thing is that this meme seems to have many explanations rather than one specific origin.  After 2 years of careful consideration I acquired two Silkies from a devout 4-H'er. Silkies are the Pomeranians of the chicken world - beautiful, cuddly, proud and somewhat useless.  At around the same time my friend Chris acquired some real "layers" that aren't quite as chic but definitely more productive.  A verbal war ensued over who had the better birds, all in jest.  But it did prompt me to ask what motivated him to get his.  Turns out, this ex-SUV driving, former conservative-voting, all-American guy felt it was time to take his health into his own hands.  He and his wife Beverly began tending to their own organic garden and chicken eggs seemed like an obvious way to increase their protein.  I have never heard anybody so proud of their pet's accomplishments.     Becoming agrarian seems to suit them beautifully.  We got our hens after we had to give up our dog due to my son's  I decided that if I was getting a new pet, it was going to reciprocate and have some positive environmental claw-print, rather than the heavy carbon paw-print of a dog (think of all those blue-baggies that preserve the poop in landfills for an eternity).     Our chickens were virtually free and require very little maintenance (10-15 minutes a day at most). We borrowed an old hutch from a friend and bought one large bag of organic scratch and one block of cedar shavings for bedding for a grand total of $55.  Two months later I'm about 1/8th through both and the truth is I don't really need either.  Chickens are happiest eating bugs and kitchen scraps, so they are essentially living composters.  We use the nitrogen rich excrement as fertilizer for our organic garden and we collect little eggs (silkies are all about quality, not quantity) that are a perfect lunch snack for my daughter.  I feel great about 'growing' - I've learned only recently that the USDA considers grocery store eggs to be "fresh" up to 45 days after being packed!    As part of this new coup community, now Chris and I are swapping fowl stories about how to best use droppings and talking about the next domesticated animal that will get closer to edible independence.  But the six degrees of poultry separation keeps popping up! I was sharing my story on Facebook, when suddenly I was flooded with similar tales.  Turns out that many of our friends have been contemplating adding some clucking to their lives or in a surprising number of cases, have already done so.  Some live in more urban areas, some more rural.  Some are liberal and some are conservative.  I think that it is similar to solar panels.  People get them for different political views.  There are those that want energy independence, those that want to save money over the long term and those that just want to take a stand for the planet.  Chickens address the psychographic wounds, but are a lot more affordable than photo voltaic panels.  Airing my dirty laundry (the cage does need to be cleaned regularly) on Facebook, a friend in Germany responded to my posts by turning me on to another friend's rants about becoming an urban farmer:  More and more it seems I'm not the trailblazer I thought I was.  It's like finding out that the band you "discovered" has a number one hit on the radio.  Then you come to the realization that you are now sharing a collective consciousness and there is something really exciting about that.  So if you have gone down the same feathery road, I would love to hear about your experience too!

ccccChickens now considered pets in Ridgefield, Washington.  Written by Ken Vance.  Reporter for The Reflector newspaper, based in Battle Ground, WA.  The City of Ridgefield has updated its Municipal Code as it pertains to the regulation of animals. Among other things, hens are now considered to be household pets. . . . .    The ordinance update included clarified animal control authority since the City works with Clark County on matters of animal regulations. It also updated licensing and registration requirements and fees. . . . .    Updates to the ordinance were made earlier this year regarding poultry. Whereas chickens were banned in ordinance changes made in 2008, the ordinance now allows up to five hens, which must be kept 40 feet back from the front property line. Poultry can be closer than 100 feet from homes, but cannot be a nuisance . . . . .    Among other changes, the new ordinance establishes a 30-day period within which an application for license must be made after the acquisition of a new dog that is six months old or older or has developed a permanent set of canine teeth. A new resident also has 30 days to apply for a license of a dog that meets the same standard. . . . .    Dog licenses now must be obtained from the Ridgefield Police Department to assure accurate animal and owner contact information. In the process, photos will be taken of each dog to assist with identification. This aides the police department in returning lost dogs to their owners rather than having to take them to the Humane Society where a fee would be paid for return of the dog, said Ridgefield policecc chief Carrie Greene. . . . .    Fees for dog licenses are $15 if not spayed or neutered and $5 if spayed or neutered. There is no discount for senior dog owners. . . . .    “We really want to encourage people to license their dogs so we have their information and can return the dogs when they get loose, which they invariably do,’’ said Greene. . . . .    It is also now unlawful for any person to bring into Ridgefield or to possess any exotic animal in the City. An exotic animal is defined as “any animal which, when in its wild state, or due to its size, habits, natural propensities, training or instinct, presents a danger or potential danger to human beings and is capable of inflicting serious physical harm upon human beings, and includes inherently dangerous mammals and reptiles.’’ . . . .    The ordinance also gives animal control officials the ability to declare a dog to be potentially dangerous. The finding of potentially dangerous must be based on one of the following: the written complaint of a citizen who is willing to testify that the animal has acted in such a manner, dog bite reports filed with the animal control department, actions of the dog witnessed by any animal control officer or law enforcement officer, the designation by another animal control authority, or other substantial evidence. . . . .    A declaration of the determination that an animal is potentially dangerous must then be made to the owner in writing. The owner can request a hearing. If the designation is upheld, the owner will be required to license the dog for an initial fee of $300. The annual renewal would be $100 and the owner would also need to display a proper enclosure to confine the dog and have a surety bond and a policy of liability insurance of at least $50,000 each. . . . .    The fine or penalty for infractions in the new section of the Code include a $125 fine for failure to license, having a dog at large, a nuisance pet animal, or pet animal on public property, failure to remove fecal material, livestock or fowl at large. . . . .    It is now a misdemeanor for the unlawful removal of a tag, the injury to person or animal, the failure to provide humane care or failure to meet terms of a quarantine, cruelty to animals, confinement or restraint of a pet animal, unlawful possession of an exotic animal, unlawful release of a pet animal and violation of dangerous dog regulations.  

ccGresham council gives OK to chickens ...... . . .By James Mayer, The Oregonian ...... . . .December 01, 2013....... . . Gresham chicken owners will be able to keep their birds while the city works up a set of rules. The Rhode Island Red, "Baby Girl," is a pet and eats all the slugs and spiders n their yard................... .The Gresham City Council tonight reversed itself and tentatively approved an ordinance allowing residents to keep up to three chickens. .................. .“I think it’s so great,” said Bev Stout, holding her hen, Baby Girl, in her arms outside the council chamber after the vote. “I’m so happy I don’t have to get rid of her.” .................. .The council voted 4 to 3 to approve the ordinance. A final vote is scheduled for Jan. 5. .................. .The council voted against a similar ordinance on Oct. 20, by a 4 to 2 margin. .................. .The turnaround came after Councilor Shirley Craddick said she would switch her vote to yes if the ordinance included a permit system for keeping chickens. .................. .“For me, it was never pro-chicken or anti-chicken,” Craddick said. “It was always about the code, which should protect one neighbor’s livability from another neighbor’s thoughtlessness.” .................. .A permit will allow people to have chickens while at the same time providing an avenue for people who are upset by chickens in their neighborhood. .................. .Also voting for the chicken ordinance were Councilors Richard Strathern, Paul Warr-King, and David Widmark, who was absent during the October vote. Voting no were Mayor Shane Bemis and Councilors Josh Fuhrer and Carol Nielson-Hood. .................. .None of the other councilors commented on the issue, but  Bemis, Fuhrer and Nielson-Hood previously expressed concern that allowing chickens would detract from the city’s livability. .................. ."For everyone who wants a chicken, there are four people around them who don't want chickens," Fuhrer said during a previous council discussion. ...... .cc . . ...... . . .The ordinance allows up to three chickens on lots with a detached single family residence, but bans roosters. It requires chickens to be kept in a run and inside a covered coop at night. The coop must be at least 25 feet from other residences and 10 feet from the property line. The ordinance includes nuisance standards for maintaining the coops and chickens. .................. .The renewable permit will be for two years. The staff will return Jan. 5 with a fee ordinance, which will be $30 to $60 per flock. .......... .About two dozen chicken supporters flocked to the council chamber for the debate, sporting stickers with a picture of a chicken and the word “YES.” .......... .Ellie Wilson said she was not old enough to vote, but urged the council to allow backyard chickens. .................. .“They don’t bark or run after cats or eat my Dad’s slippers,” Wilson said, adding, “I promise to be a responsible chicken owner.” .................. .Allowing chickens is the one of the most practical things the city can do to encourage sustainability, said Jill Moss. Referring to the complaint that chickens make noise in the morning, Moss said she has “light -proofed” her coop. .................. .“My chickens don’t know it’s morning until I tell them it’s morning,” she said.  . . ..One resident testified against the proposal. .................. .Rick Ginter said he spent $700 on an exterminator to rid his property of rats attracted by his neighbor’s chickens. .................. .“I find it strange that I would have to move to the country to escape farm animals,” Ginter said. .................. .Bemis praised the chicken supporters  from the advocacy................ ."You have been the most passionate and probably the most respectful of any group that has  come before the council," the mayor  said.......... .--James Mayer

What are the meanings behind all the lables on all the different kind of eggs that you can buy?  . . . . . . . . . . . . .Your guide to egg labels.  Written by By Danielle Centoni, of The Oregonian newspaper staff.  (Writer, editor and recipe developer in the FOODday department.)   November 10, 2013. Link can be found here.  

Pros: Uncaged hens can perform natural functions such as walking and stretching their wings. 
Cons: The hens are usually housed in large barns or warehouses with no access to the outdoors and no cap on population. There are no restrictions on feed for the birds, so they may be given feed with antibiotics, drugs, pesticides or animal byproducts. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. There is no third-party auditing to ensure the hens truly are cage-free. 

Pros: Uncaged hens can perform natural functions and usually have some outdoor access. 
Cons: There are no standards for the amount, duration and quality of the outdoor access. Outdoor access is not even required, since the USDA has no defined standards for free-range egg production (meat production yes, but not eggs). There are no restrictions on feed for the birds. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. There is no third-party auditing. 

Certified organic:
Pros: To earn this label, hens are required to be uncaged and have outdoor access. They are fed an organic, all-vegetarian feed free of antibiotics, drugs, pesticides and animal byproducts. Because they are not given antibiotics, their living conditions are usually not as cramped. Certification is given by third-party auditors. 
Cons: There are no standards for the amount, duration and quality of the outdoor access. There are also no standards capping population density (although, as stated above, it's likely conditions aren't too cramped since the birds are not given antibiotics). Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. 

Certified Humane:  ( 
Pros: Hens must be uncaged. They may have some outdoor access. They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching and dust bathing. There are standards capping population density and requiring a certain number of perches and nesting boxes. Forced molting through starvation is not allowed. They are fed a diet free of antibiotics, hormones and animal byproducts. Certification is given by third-party auditors. 
Cons: Outdoor access is not required. Beak cutting is allowed. 

Animal Welfare Approved:  ( 
Pros: Highest animal welfare standards of any third-party audited program. Hens are uncaged and given continuous outdoor access. There are standards capping population density and requirements for perches, space and nesting boxes. They are fed a diet free of antibiotics, hormones and animal byproducts. Birds are allowed to molt naturally and beak cutting is prohibited. 
Cons: No participating producers sell to supermarkets. 


United Egg Producers Certified: 
Pros: Most of the egg producers in the United States comply with this voluntary program. Forced molting through starvation is not allowed. Certification is given by third-party auditors. 
Cons: While forced molting isn't allowed, all the usual practices of factory-farmed eggs are permitted. Hens are kept indoors in battery cages with 67 square inches of space per bird. Beak cutting is allowed. There are no requirements for feed. 

Vegetarian-fed: Feed does not contain animal byproducts. However, the hens will eat bugs if they find them. 

Natural: There are no regulations or requirements for this label, so it can mean anything -- or nothing. 

Fertile: These eggs were laid by hens who lived with roosters. The USDA says there is no nutritional difference between fertile and infertile eggs. However, the presence of roosters indicates the hens were likely not caged. 

Omega-3 enriched: Hens are fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, usually by supplementing the feed with flax seed. The eggs typically have about twice the amount of omega-3s as regular eggs, but at about twice the price. 

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