I'm Getting Chickens!

Last week was awesome.

Simply wonderful.

If you follow us on Facebook, you heard me shouting the good news from the rooftops: 

Our city council passed an urban chicken ordinance, allowing residents to keep chickens within city limits!

You might remember (again, if you follow us on Facebook), that I started this movement back in November. I certainly wasn't alone in promoting and supporting the ordinance through it's development, but I am definitely going to take credit for getting the ball rolling on this one. I attended every City Council meeting, emailed back and forth with council members, met with council members in my free time, emailed a host of experts throughout Iowa for their advice and support, and collaborated with local news outlets to spread the word. Each week I put in hours of my free time to ensure our council members had access to every.bit.of.information. regarding urban chickens and their positive impact on our city. I worked my tail off, and I am very proud of myself.

Ain't no shame in that, right?

Fast-forward four months later, and we 'townies' are finally allowed to bring a little urban agriculture into our backyards.

There are several strict parameters of this ordinance, which I do believe ensure the quality of life and happiness for the chickens, the chicken owners, and their neighbors. Because, when you live in town, the choices you make on your own property oftentimes impact your neighbors.

Here are the guidelines to our chicken ordinance: 


  • A maximum of six hens (or ducks!) are allowed. No roosters. 
  • A permit must be obtained from the city. 
  • Chicken owners must take a basic chicken-keeping class at a local nature center before applying for a permit. 
  • A hen house and run must be made from uniform materials. Nothing janky. Nothing that looks like scrap. It has to look nice. 
  • There must be at least 4 square feet of space per bird in the hen house. 
  • There must be a plan for keeping the hen house and food safe from predators. 
  • The hen house must be 10 feet from the property line and 25 feet from any adjacent businesses, dwellings, churches, etc. 
  • The chickens wings must be clipped. 
  • Waste and bedding must be composted or disposed of. That is, you can't make a stinky poo and bedding pile in your backyard. 
  • No odors should be permeable beyond the property line. 

There are several other guidelines and details for the ordinance, but those are the biggies.

So, where do we go from here?

Well, I'm working on a brochure for the City right now. Apparently there are already several requests for permits, and a lot of questions about the process. This tells me that urban agriculture is growing in our area! I am honored and excited to be involved in helping families welcome urban chickens to their backyards.

The next step for us is to plan out and build our coop and run. I am either going to build my own (with the help of my sister's boyfriend, dad, and brother) from some modified plans I found online, or retrofit a large dog house my dad has 'sitting out back' on his farm.

Here are the sketches of the coop and run we'll build (if we choose this option):




And here is a not-so-detailed photo of the big doghouse I'll use (if we choose to modify it):


We also need to gather the supplies we'll need, like a waterer, feed and supplements, a heat lamp for the winter, etc. Thankfully, we have a few months to look for quality used supplies on Craigslist or at auctions.

Where will I get my birds? Great question. I plan to buy my birds from my Aunt Tess. She and her daughters have quite a few hens, and are looking to reduce the number in their flock this summer after her girls compete in a few fair contests.

That means I'll get full-grown birds that are already laying. The added bonus? I know my aunt does a great job with her animals, so they are well-cared for. After polling a few of you (again, on Facebook), I was reassured that full-grown chickens are probably a better idea for a first-time urban chicken-er like me. As my birds grow older, I can add a few younger hens to my little flock.

Here's my question for you:

What do are some things I need to consider between now and June? What do you wish someone told you before you got your birds? 



19 comments:

  1. Congratulations!! Elevate your water source....otherwise they scratch all the things into it!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. what are you going to do when you are traveling with your sweetie?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have a pet sitter who takes care of our dogs (if/when we don't take them with us), and she actually pet sits for chickens! She'll check on them, feed and water them, collect eggs, let them out in the run, etc. Isn't it awesome that pet sitting now encompasses CHICKEN sitting? :) Viva la urban agriculture!

      Delete
    2. Lol! That's awesome. :-) Pet sitting is a big problem as our little homestead grows. We're boarding the dog when we leave for Florida, but what the heck do you do with 5 rabbits??? Lucky, we have friends who are good sports and will help out. I'm not sure what we'll do when they more or we add more animals.

      Delete
    3. That's cool. Sometimes it's difficult just with a dog! Love your blog. By the way, when do you start to grow your seedlings indoors? I live in MN and want to give it a try. Although I generally have a brown thumb rather than a green. lol Thanks. Sue

      Delete
    4. I am going to start my seeds in about two weeks from now - around the 10th-16th of March, or later. Most of what I'm growing needs anywhere between 5 to 12 weeks to germinate and start indoors. I hope to plant around mid-May (I use my sister's birthday on the 18th as a loose guide), depending on the frost. This winter has been a hard one for us Midwesterners, right?!

      Delete
  3. Congratulations on winning over your city council! I've been following your blog for a while and I know how much you wanted backyard chickens. I live in a condo so no chickens for me at the moment, but my parents have several so I get to experience it through them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THANK YOU :) And thanks for following along! (I love meeting new friends.) Feel free to give me advice on the backyard chickens. I'll need all the tips I can get!

      Delete
  4. Kelli- our neighbor two doors up got chickens two years ago. It has been so much fun for my kids to learn about them. They got them as baby chicks and they are still laying beautiful eggs even through this horrible winter we have had!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are lucky if they got eggs over the winter! So many molt and then take a break during the cold, short days. I hope our neighbors enjoy learning about urban ag as much as you and your family!

      Delete
  5. This might be a weird question... but what happens to the chickens if/when they die? How do you dispose of them? Just curious :-) Congrats on the accomplishment! I have joked with my husband about raising chickens but never really seriously considered it. We need to master our garden first!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not weird at all :) I get this question all the time, and I think it is SO important that all owners think of the long-term commitment to keeping any type of animal, including when they die. If a chicken is getting old and not laying as much anymore, I am going to put her in the freezer and use her as a stewing bird. Granted, it won't be a plump, juicy meat bird…

      If a chicken dies of an illness or due to a predator, I will probably make use of the many farms in our area and ask if I can drop off the carcass for their rendering truck.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity! :)

      Delete
  6. Awesome job! Are you not allowed to have roosters because of the crows they make? Do you know what breeds you'll be getting from your Aunt?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Nicole :) I'm pretty proud. Roosters aren't allowed because they are noisier than hens. I am getting Brahmas from my aunt. Next year I'll get a few chicks (not sure which breed - any recommendations?), so I can ensure I have a few younger birds in rotation.

      Delete
  7. That is awesome. I told Brandon about it and he got all excited about it thinking maybe we should do something. Then I reminded him that we already have two chickens, named Rowen and Sutton, and he reconsidered :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha! That's true, Megan. You guys have your hands full at times :)

      Delete
  8. Congrats on taking action and making a positive change in your community. Sadly our city has an ordinance against urban chickens or I'd have some in my backyard. Give those lovely ladies plenty of room to backyard pasture. :) Also, you may already know this, but some grocery stores will sell you their expiring produce super cheap so you can give them a varied diet on the cheap. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete

Got some thoughts? Don't be shy. Leave 'em here!

You might like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...