Friday, May 16, 2008

pleading the case for urban chickens in Calgary

Thanks to Angela Rout for posting the text of her letter to Calgary Aldermen requesting they consider allowing urban chickens in Calgary (where she lives).

Angela is seeking feedback on whether she's done a good job speaking to conservative Calgarians, and I think the following is a pertinent excerpt in the urban chickens debate anywhere/everywhere:
Concerns such as hens making noise, attracting pests, becoming a nuisance, or attracting disease can all be addressed. Noise is not an issue with hens as it is roosters that make noise. The risk of attracting pests is minimal – equivalent to people keeping a bird feeder in their yard. As long as food is kept in a plastic sealed container, there is no risk. The size of a coop can be quite small (smaller than the needs of a larger dog run) and the number of hens can be restricted by by law. Also concern about avian flu or disease is a much lower risk than large bird farms - where, if there is a single case of the flu, thousands of chickens have to be slaughtered. In this case, the disease can only affect a couple hens, and cannot have as great an impact. Hens as pets means that families can give the animals personal attention, which is bound to be an improvement on the animal rights issues concerning hens living in cages in large scale egg factories.
Assuming the "conservative Calgarians" moniker can be transfered to anyone wary of the thought of urban chickens, what else is Angela's plea missing?

14 comments:

Peter said...

What advice would you have for someone living in an area, like Calgary, where winters can get pretyt darn cold (down to -40C at times)? I'm wondering how easy it will be for myself to get a couple urban chickens, but I'm not sure what I'd do in the winter. Thanks!

Linda said...

Thomask, just reflect back on your last post for more benefits on keeping chickens in the city. One other positive issue for her to raise is that backyard hens are often a community asset. Children love to interact with chickens (watch them, feed them, etc), and older people often have fond memories of growing up with chickens. Excess eggs can be shared with neighbors, and these same neighbors may choose to bring by some of their "waste" (trimmings from kitchen greens, dandelions and weeds from the yard, etc.) rather than send them to the landfill. From my experience, this is how it works, at least. My hens are definitely an asset to the neighborhood, not a detriment!

ThomasK said...

Linda, great points! thanks for bridging the posts so nicely.

Given your experience with Chicago winters, maybe you can help Peter with his "pretty darn cold" question? Your girls seem to have weathered the snow quite nicely, any tips to share with Peter?

mammacomic said...

Hi all. THanks so much for linking to my post. Im going to attend the Urban farming meet up next monday to discuss chickens. I am editing my letter thanks to the comments, and my sister's input who is a lawyer, and will send it off soon. As far as the cold goes, I have read that people in colder climates have heated/insulated coups close to the house, and that though you need to heat them, they keep themselves pretty warm as long as its insulated. Ive never kept them though, Im sure local farms would know! My neighbour keeps baby chicks in her kindergarten classroom, for education - but cant keep the hens...how strange is that?

Middle Earth said...

Advice from a rural farmer growing chickens on the Saskatchewan Prairies where it can dip down to -40 C in the winter:

"Mine are in an insulated building and I do use heat lights for them, usually only in the cold. The secret is to have lots of straw on the floor for insulation for them. I'm not sure how big a house you are proposing but one heat light would probably be suffecient [for a smaller urban chicken coop] also feed them wheat for a bit of extra internal body heat. Also the big secret is to have the red or black chickens as they are a larger bird and therefore have more self contained heat. The leghorns are pretty small and would feel the cold more. My birds are dual purpose birds and that means they are bigger in body size, they also eat more... Also you would need roosts for them to sit on so they don't sit on the floor [to stay warmer]."

Middle Earth said...

Response from local alderman in Calgary regarding my request that the bylaws be considered for changes to allow urban chickens to be raised (3 to 5 hens, no roosters). Interesting to note, apparently petitions can be beneficial. If you know anyone willing to sign, let me know :-)

______________________________
Subject: Chickens
Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2008 10:31:48 -0600

Hi D___:
Had a response from Bylaw on your email concerning raising chickens as pets: Bylaw is not to recommending an amendment to allow chickens to be kept on residential properties - the topic of farm type animals has been discussed in relation to the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw.

Bylaw feels the vast majority of Calgarians purchase a home in an area designated as residential with certain expectations and apparently those expectations do not include having neighbours raising livestock.

The consensus seems to be that although 3 to 5 chickens does not sound like much, but it creates a potential for hundreds of thousands of chickens which from a public health point of view may have potentional heath concerns.

Additionally, there are also concerns with the health
and welfare of the animals and the production of food from those
animals without any safeguards.

Bylaw feels until such time as there is a petition from the required 110,000 Calgarians asking for the change or a direction from Council to do it, it looks like there will be no change in the status concerrning chickens in the near future.

Anna & Swavek said...

Iwont to sign a petition. Also I have a feeling that many people in Calgary would do the same.

Teresa McLaren said...

here is a petition to sign: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/CalgaryChickens/

mike said...

Peter: we didn't have problems with our chickens when I lived near Cochrane. The coop was insulated but not heated.

j said...

Hi there, jut wondering how the legal side of things is going. I live in Calgary...

Jennifer said...

Is there a paper petition being gathered? The internet based petitions are not recognized as valid petions but I would love to sign a paper petition. I thought the idea of raising chickens was nuts only a few months ago. Now I am starting to think I want a coop of my own.

mary said...

hello there people!Please look for the CLUCK (CALGARY LIBERATED URBAN CHICKEN KLUB )on facebook and post with us!
I have recently been ordered to remove my 3 beautiful egg producing urban chickens from my yard. I see this as absolutely embarrasing considering we live in Calgary the Stampede city!!
My yard is clean and bylaw agreed my animals are happy and cared for but their hands are tied!
Please write ward04@calgary.ca
and tell them u support urban chickens and to please help me feed my 3 kids with these great eggs!
The bylaws change when we change them people! Please!!I beg you,take a moment to look at my pictures on CLUCK and see my hens and their happy life and then write for me,my chickens and my kids....
thanks,
mary chickens

Myles said...

Anyone kno where a person can buy poulty supplies such as chicks, feeders and waterers in the Calgary region? My son has some acerage and I am considering raising some chickens for eggs and meat.

Arathi said...

I'm hoping that you win this battle for Chickens in Calgary! I loive in Calgary as well, and really want ot supplement my families grocery bill with home grown chickens!

For those interested, I stumbled across a great link to a woman who built some interesting Chicken Tractors for her yard.

www.gardengirltv.com

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