Can You Have Chickens AND a Dog?

I wrote pretty in depth about my experience with Hurley, my german shepherd mix, and getting her used to the chickens. She was NOT a bird friendly dog- she was notorious for snatching birds out of the air after startling them by the backyard bird feeder. It was a slow, long process but she is now 100% trustworthy around the chickens, and is sometimes left outside with them during the day to protect them from predators like hawks and stray cats.

If you’ve had concerns about integrating chickens with a high prey drive dog, read my HuffPo article on the slow process of desensitizing them.

Can Dog Owners have Backyard Chickens?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/586eb005e4b0eb9e49bfb9c2

Advertisements

Chickens on Your Christmas Cards

I’m a sucker for a good Christmas card.  It’s such a rare treat, getting something in the mail from another human being your actually care about, and if there’s some level of personalization- swoon!  It makes me so happy.

That’s partly why over the past 2 years I’ve designed Christmas cards with illustrations of our family on them.  I’m not big into pictures (seriously, I’m so awkward), and besides it’d be next to impossible to get the chickens, the dog, the cat, and my husband and I all into a picture for one of those nice holiday cards that photogenic families send out.

Last year, in 2015, we lost Little Girl and our dog Shiner.  Shiner passed the day after Thanksgiving, so I quickly developed a sketch that included both he and Little Girl, but had a bit of symbolism to it to show that they were apart from us now.We also spent a ton of time painting and repairing our house in Pontiac as well, which I wanted to commemorate. I had a professional turn it into a vector, and quickly sent it to the printers. You can see the sketches that lead to the final product (below) on my Laura Mikulski Google+ profile

2015-final-white-background

I had a very specific idea for our 2016 holiday card this year.  We took it a little bit easier this year, and I wanted to card to have a cozy feel to it.  I decided the scene should show Ben and I in our Ferndale house, lounging on the sofa with Hurley and The B, with our chickens outside (Little Girl was, hopefully, the last house bird). I got a basic design together, asked an artist for help tracing and creating shadows, and with a little tweaking got this:

xmas-2016-with-snow

Of course then the printer (Vistaprint), botched the job AND sent a batch of cards to some unknown address.  Cards went out super late as a result, but I hope people still enjoyed them.

If you include your chickens on your holiday cards, I’d love to know! Show me a pic in the comments.

2016 TRACTOR SUPPLY CO. CHICK DAYS ARE HERE! FERNDALE MI

2016 tractor supply chick days michigan

If you’ve been thinking about having backyard chickens in Ferndale, MI, now is this perfect time to get started planning.

Every year in mid to late February, Tractor Supply hosts their “Chick Days”, where they receive shipments of chicks from hatcheries to their retail stores.  For your average backyard chicken keeper, these days are a boon:  it makes it so much easier to source chicks and visually inspect them before bringing them home, and allows you to take home a much smaller number than would normally be shipped to you direct from a hatchery (most hatcheries ship in bulk, ~25 chicks).  My preferred TSC is located in White Lake MI, about 45 minutes away from Ferndale MI.

According to their staff, this year the White Lake location will offer chicks from the last week of February through the next 3 months!!

Advantages to getting your chicks through TSC Chick Days:

  • Chicks can be visually inspected for leg issues, disease, and injuries prior to taking them home.
  • No “dead on arrival” chick issues that come from hatchery shipments; most hatcheries will only ship 30+ chicks at a time and often include a few extra to account for those that die en route.
  • Supplies for chick rearing are located at TSC- you can get everything you need to get started right there.
  • Smaller quantities:  TSC requires that you purchase a minimum of 6 chicks.  While this is problematic here in Ferndale where we can only have 3 chickens, it’s a far better option than sourcing through a mail-order hatchery that only ships a much larger volume (30+) of chicks per box.
  • Chicks are about $4 each.  $12 for your 3 hens in Ferndale (plus additional expenses to set up the coop, get feed, set up brooder box, etc)
  • New chicks are shipped to stores every Monday.  You can call to check what breeds they have every Monday around noon.  White Lake’s TSC just had their first shipment delivered today, 2/23/15.

Disadvantages of getting your chicks through TSC Chick Days:

  • You have to purchase a MINIMUM of 6 chicks. Unfortunately for those of us in Ferndale, that’s 3 more than we’re allowed.  Now is the time to reach out to other people to see if they’d like to go in on the purchase of chicks so you have a home lined up for the 3 additional birds. I see a surge in people selling started pullets/chicks around March on Michigan Poultry & Hatching Eggs Forum on Facebook & Metro Detroit Backyard Chickens Forum on Facebook.
  • Limited selection of breeds.  If you have your heart set on a certain breed of chicken, you may not be able to get it at TSC.  TSC in White Lake told us that they never know what breeds they will get, so the earliest they know of that weeks breeds is the Monday they receive them.

Points to keep in mind when getting started raising chicks in Ferndale:

  1. You might end up with a male chick/rooster, even if you select from sexed chicks labeled as female. There is almost always a chance that you’ll wind up with a male chick, and you won’t know until they get older and their behavior changes & they start crowing. You can limit your risk of winding up with a rooster in a few ways:
    • never buy “straight run” chicks, only “pullets”; pullets = sexed as female
    • consider selecting sex link chicks– these are chicks who have a distinct visual difference between
      The yellow-faced chick turned out to be the only male in the 6 chick group. It was the friendliest & biggest as a chick; as it turned into a juvenile, it suddenly became standoffish and bossier to the pullets.
      The yellow-faced chick turned out to be the only male in the 6 chick group. It was the friendliest & biggest as a chick; as it turned into a juvenile, it suddenly became standoffish and bossier to the pullets.

      males & females, making it foolproof to separate males & females.  Examples of high production common sex link birds are the black sex link (Black Star) & red sex link (Red Star).  This is the best option for those who absolutely can’t have a situation where they wind up with a rooster.

    • visually inspect slightly older chicks for characteristics of male chicks:  look for thicker legs, bigger body, and a much more friendly/bold personality
  2. You will need a place to raise the chicks.  TSC provides brooding kits, but they’re really only suitable for new chicks.  You’ll need something bigger before long. This chick brooder box idea board is a great place for inspiration.
  3. You will need a heat lamp, and will need to secure it.  Heat lamps are dangerous and can set wood shavings/sawdust on fire.  Be careful by securing the lamp to something stable or in such a way that it can’t fall into the litter the chicks are using in the brooder box.
  4. You will need chick food.  TSC has this, and it’s very cheap.  You can get medicated or non-medicated feed; as much as I’m a pseudo-hippy that lives an organic lifestyle, I prefer the medicated feed to avoid potential illnesses among the fragile chicks.  You can add in a probiotic to their feed when they are juveniles to ensure that their gut bacteria are all in order.
  5. You will need a coop for them to live in after they get bigger.  In Ferndale, that means you will need to create a permanent structure, and go through the process of getting the building approved.  Read more about the muni code & information on building a chicken coop in Ferndale MI. Chicks grow quickly, and will need a place to transition to- and you will look forward to getting them out of your house.
  6. Chicks create a lot of dust & droppings.  The droppings are stinky, and frequent.  You’ll need to clean the brooder box daily to keep the chicks from stomping around in their own waste.  This gets tiresome, but far worse is the dust that’s created.  This fine dust WILL coat everything in the same room as the brooder box.  It’s not toxic or stinky, but it often comes as a surprise after you’ve had the chicks for a few weeks and begin noticing that all your nice furniture has a fine, pervasive layer of dust on it.
  7. If chicks get ill, you will need to get them medication immediately.  That’s why I prefer having some on-hand, though it needs to be replaced regularly as it loses it’s effectiveness.
  8. Backyard chickens, much like dogs & cats, are a commitment of time, energy, and money.  You will need to make sure they are protected, fed, and healthy- and because they live outside in a world that wants to eat them, that presents its own set of unique challenges.  Plan on having to deal with attacks from local wildlife, and secure your coop like Fort Knox.  Make sure you have a veterinarian lined up for illnesses.  And always arrange for someone to look after them if you’re going away for an extended period of time.
  9. You will need to ensure that you don’t attract rats.  Rats are attracted to food & places to hide:  nothing more, nothing less.  If you build a coop that won’t allow rats to get inside as well as secure all sources of feed, you won’t have rat problems.  If you think you have rats, contact me immediately and I will help you figure out how to get rid of them.  Ferndale has a problem with rats in the downtown area due to improperly secured dumpsters, we as homeowners must not provide ‘greener fields’ for the rats to move to.
  10. People who keep backyard chickens fall in love with them, but not everyone feels the same.  By being a conscientious homeowner & chicken keeper, you’ll keep the peace among your neighbors.  Keep it clean, attractive, and in-compliance with the law.

 

Are you ready to join the ever increasing number of people who have backyard chickens?  Let us know in the comments!

Fight for Food Sovereignty in Ferrysburg MI

What entails community change from a ‘bedroom community’ to a ‘barnyard community’?  If you’re Roger Jonas, chairperson of the Ferrysburg Planning Commission,  the answer is as simple as 2 goats, 5 chickens, or 4 rabbits.

The issue emerged last year when Adam and Amanda Montambo asked the city to allow them to continue to keep pet goats. The Montambos said Amanda Montambo and several of their children are allergic to cow’s milk and therefore used goat’s milk.   Tim Scarpino, a former Ferrysburg councilman & spokesperson for the petition group Ferrysburg Residents for Responsible Land Use, said council should not consider changing the rules to benefit only one family. During his presentation, he very helpfully showed a photograph factory farm eggsof lactose-free products available for purchase at a local grocery store.  Because, you know, I’m sure the Montambo’s had absolutely NO idea that there were such things available.

At this same city council meeting, Tim pointed out: “You have an obligation to represent the entire city, which makes me wonder why you are giving greater consideration to the supposed needs of one family over those of another.” See, what city council had failed to realize, was that despite the needs of one family and the vocal support of other members of the community, they had an obligation to the needs of those who don’t support the right to food sovereignty and keeping a paltry number of animals on private property.  I’m not sure what those needs are as they pertain to this, because despite reading every article I could on this subject, the only ‘need’ I saw expressed was “We are a quiet town, and it’s the hope of many of us to keep it that way“.  Since this hints at a level of ignorance of how little noise goats, chickens, or rabbits make, I’m forced to assume that this is a bit of hyperbole.

Lest he be thought to be a goat-hating fear monger, Mr. Scarpino has stated: “I got nothing against goats”*.  In fact, as the chairperson for the Zoning Board of Appeals, Tim Scarpino is more upset by the fact that council passed this without the approval of the Ferrysburg Planning Commission.  In the comments section of one of the articles, a reader pointed out that a lot of the controversy around keeping farm animals revolves around the misconception that a few chickens/goats will be as fundamentally neighborhood changing as a large scale farm operation, to which Tim replied:

A “lot of the controversy” is because the Ferrysburg City Council ignored 50+ years of zoning norms to create a land use in the City that our founders never intended.  In fact, one of them (92 years old) called me to say this ordinance is a bad idea. The Ferrysburg City Council, in passing this ordinance, ignored The Planning Commission, the city planning consultant and the Master Land Use Plan (which does note even mention the desire for farm animals on residential lots). If they are willing do that, then what other land use ordinances might they enact?*

So, for now, let’s pretend that this is the only issue and the entire reason for Tim getting so heavily involved in speaking out against this ordinance.  Oh, and let’s also ignore the pearl-clutching weirdness of the last sentence.

"If they allow 2 goats, what's next?  Lions, tigers, & bears? OH MY!!"
“If they allow 2 goats, what’s next? Lions, tigers, & bears? OH MY!!”

At the start of this all, Ferrysburg ordinance did not allow farm animals on lots less than 10 acres. There were no parcels that large within city limits, thus no farm animals were allowed in the city (sounds pretty similar to our old Ferndale lot size issue).   When the Montambo family was discovered with goats, the city laudably took immediate action to investigate solutions and amend their ordinance appropriately.  Council voted 7-0 on Nov. 20 2014 to send the well-debated farm animal ordinance back to the planners with the intent of getting it changed to allow goats, chickens and rabbits on lots larger than 1 acre, with a one-year special use permit.  While this might seem reasonable to most people, it seems that the Ferrysburg Planning Commission was slightly less amenable to the idea.  To quote a December 2014 article from the Grand Haven Tribune:

“What if we don’t do it?” Planning Commissioner John Reifel asked. “What if we don’t want to draft it?”

“We have to take control of this or they will spot zone and things will happen in random order,” Regina Sjoberg, who serves both on Ferrysburg City Council and the Planning Commission, warned the planning commissioners at their meeting last week. “I guarantee you, if we don’t draft something, they will. We have to have some kind of control, and the best we can do is damage control.”

Planning Commission Chairman Roger Jonas said he grew up on a farm and believes farm animals don’t belong within city limits. *

Oh sure.  That sounds like a well-balanced response by an open minded Planning Commission serving out their duty as representatives of their community.  Not biased or petulant at all.

After lengthy discussion, Ferrysburg planning commissioners directed city planner David Jirousek of Grand Rapids-based LSL Planning to create a draft ordinance, modeled after similar-size cities in Michigan.  Mr. Jirousek drafted the ordinance amendment for keeping chickens in Grand Rapids, which stipulated that chickens may only be kept on a lot which is at least 3,800 square feet in size.  3,800 square feet = .089 acres, for those like myself who struggle with conversions.  You can keep 4 chickens on a property under 5,000 sq ft, and 6 chickens on property over 5,000 sq ft.  While I can’t find documentation on the reasons behind Mr. Jirousek’s stance, he returned an opinion that Ferrysburg should not allow farm animals.  The question is, why- particularly given that Mr. Jirousek seems to grasp the increasing desire of communities to embrace self-sufficiency and revive familiarity with homesteading.  I haven’t been able to find that answer, and will keep looking.

The city of Ferrysburg has their Ferrysburg 2007 Master Land Use Plan online, which, like Mr. Scarpino said, did not reference a desire for farm animals on residential lots.  Is this really shocking or noteworthy?  I’ve only seen reference to farm animals in Master Plan’s for heavily agricultural areas, of which Ferrysburg is not.  However, their first goal, as stated in the plan, is thus:

Goal #1 : Maintain Ferrysburg’s small town character

I can’t think of anything more true to small town character than neighbors seeing an earnest desire of their fellow man to be healthy, happy & involved in local food, and working toward a goal that allows them to achieve that within reasonable bounds.  When the Zoning Appeals Board upheld the determination that farm animals were not allowed on the Montambos 1.4 acre property, given that the  ordinance was excessively restrictive (10 acres mandatory for farm animals, which doesn’t exist anywhere in the city), I would expect a small town to look on in compassion and with an eye for reasonable change,  rather than a foot stamp and a “not in my backyard” attitude.  50+ years of zoning hasn’t taken into account the fundamental shift in our relationship with food sources and an increasing desire to become involved in a sustainable, conscious lifestyle.  If the planning commission takes a moment to consider the dramatic increase in farmers markets in Michigan and the rapid adoption of backyard chicken keeping in major cities, then maybe they wouldn’t treat this like a nuisance request or something that needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. Maybe, for a moment, they could look at this as neighbors, and truly reflect on why they believe that ‘farm animals’ don’t belong in the city, as Planning Commission Chairman Roger Jonas has said.

Personally, I applaud Mayor Dan Ruiter, who stated “I want to support the current trends aimed at a healthier lifestyle for ourselves and our families”. Now THAT is what I expect when I think of ‘small town character’.

The ordinance is officially on the Nov 3rd 2015 ballot for Ferrysburg.  I hope that those who support it are able to be heard and gain the right to keep their animals.  I’ll also be paying attention to neighboring Grand Haven, a substantially larger city, and their current interest in adopting a backyard chicken ordinance.  If adopted, I wonder if that will change Tim Scarpino’s position on keeping chickens on residential lots of at least 1 acre.

Final thoughts:

What exactly would adoption of the ordinance mean for the city of Ferrysburg?

“When we talk with people about the implications of this zoning change and they understand what this may mean for the city, they begin to have doubts about the wisdom and need for this ordinance,” he said.*

“The success of this petition campaign demands the City Council not double-down on the flawed process that brought us this ordinance by ignoring the hundreds of voices calling for its repeal,” he said. “A vote by council not to repeal will set in motion a very spirited campaign to explain the practical difficulties of the ordinance, call into question the humaneness of keeping animals penned up on small residential lots, and make clear who supports that.”*

The new law allows residents to keep two goats, five chickens or four rabbits, as long as they provide a shelter and fenced-in area on the larger-than-one-acre lot.  This was already being done, by the Montambos, for some time… with no ill effect to the city, and no complaints from neighbors.  Codifying it provides an avenue to regulate through inspections and ensure that the animals welfare is maintained.  So, what ARE the implications of this ordinance change- and please, let them be based in FACT, rather than unfounded belief, fear, or an adherence to ignorance.

FACT: the ordinance, as currently proposed, is well within GAAMPs guidelines for animal keeping.

FACT: keeping small domestic farm animals like chickens, goats, and rabbits in small quantities is not a “civic oddity” (see Tim Scarpino’s comment TUE, 05/05/2015 – 4:52PM), and is being adopted by cities of all sizes nationally at a rapid pace

FACT: most cities don’t see a massive uptick in keeping chickens/goats/rabbits after an ordinance is adopted.  There’s little likelihood that the naysayers who are surrounded by eligible property will ever actually live next to a chicken/goat/rabbit.

Frankly, I’m saddened that this debate has raged on this long and with such bile from the side of those against the ordinance.  I’m saddened that there’s no middle ground, and no compassion for families like the Montambos- who, I’m sure, are not alone in their desire to keep a small number of animals.  More so, I’m saddened that Tim Scarpino, who clearly has a grasp of media and has masterfully positioned himself as the vocal point person against the ordinance, has repeatedly stated that this is bad for the city without ANY factual evidence to back that up, and no experience with ‘farm animals’ to cite.

 

 

 

2015 Tractor Supply Co. Chick Days are here! Ferndale MI

2015 tractor supply chick days michigan

If you’ve been thinking about having backyard chickens in Ferndale, MI, now is this perfect time to get started.

Every year in mid to late February, Tractor Supply hosts their “Chick Days”, where they receive shipments of chicks from hatcheries to their retail stores.  For your average backyard chicken keeper, these days are a boon:  it makes it so much easier to source chicks and visually inspect them before bringing them home, and allows you to take home a much smaller number than would normally be shipped to you direct from a hatchery.  My preferred TSC is located in White Lake MI, about 45 minutes away from Ferndale.

Advantages to getting your chicks through TSC Chick Days:

  • Chicks can be visually inspected for leg issues, disease, and injuries prior to taking them home.
  • No “dead on arrival” chick issues that come from hatchery shipments; most hatcheries will only ship 30+ chicks at a time and often include a few extra to account for those that die en route.
  • Supplies for chick rearing are located at TSC- you can get everything you need to get started right there.
  • Smaller quantities:  TSC requires that you purchase a minimum of 6 chicks.  While this is problematic here in Ferndale where we can only have 3 chickens, it’s a far better option than sourcing through a mail-order hatchery that only ships a much larger volume (30+) of chicks per box.
  • Chicks are about $4 each.  $12 for your 3 hens in Ferndale (plus additional expenses to set up the coop, get feed, set up brooder box, etc)
  • New chicks are shipped to stores every Monday.  You can call to check what breeds they have every Monday around noon.  White Lake’s TSC just had their first shipment delivered today, 2/23/15.

Disadvantages of getting your chicks through TSC Chick Days:

  • Limited selection of breeds.  If you have your heart set on a certain breed of chicken, you may not be able to get it at TSC.  Right now, at the White Lake TSC they have Red Star & Ameraucanas.
  • If you’re in Ferndale or a city that limits how many chickens you can have, you’ll need to consider how many of the chicks you can actually keep.  You can have 3 hens in your backyard in Ferndale- and NO roosters.  This means you’ll need to rehome 3 birds from your Tractor Supply chick run.  You can do this by coordinating efforts with others who would like to get started raising chickens, or by rehoming through craigslist or by social media postings.  I see a surge in people selling started pullets/chicks around March on Michigan Poultry & Hatching Eggs Forum on Facebook & Metro Detroit Backyard Chickens Forum on Facebook.

Points to keep in mind when getting started raising chicks in Ferndale:

  1. You might end up with a male chick/rooster, even if you select from sexed chicks labeled as female. There is almost always a chance that you’ll wind up with a male chick, and you won’t know until they get older and their behavior changes & they start crowing. You can limit your risk of winding up with a rooster in a few ways:
    • never buy “straight run” chicks, only “pullets”; pullets = sexed as female
    • consider selecting sex link chicks– these are chicks who have a distinct visual difference between
      The yellow-faced chick turned out to be the only male in the 6 chick group. It was the friendliest & biggest as a chick; as it turned into a juvenile, it suddenly became standoffish and bossier to the pullets.
      The yellow-faced chick turned out to be the only male in the 6 chick group. It was the friendliest & biggest as a chick; as it turned into a juvenile, it suddenly became standoffish and bossier to the pullets.

      males & females, making it foolproof to separate males & females.  Examples of high production common sex link birds are the black sex link (Black Star) & red sex link (Red Star).  This is the best option for those who absolutely can’t have a situation where they wind up with a rooster.

    • visually inspect slightly older chicks for characteristics of male chicks:  look for thicker legs, bigger body, and a much more friendly/bold personality
  2. You will need a place to raise the chicks.  TSC provides brooding kits, but they’re really only suitable for new chicks.  You’ll need something bigger before long. This chick brooder box idea board is a great place for inspiration.
  3. You will need a heat lamp, and will need to secure it.  Heat lamps are dangerous and can set wood shavings/sawdust on fire.  Be careful by securing the lamp to something stable or in such a way that it can’t fall into the litter the chicks are using in the brooder box.
  4. You will need chick food.  TSC has this, and it’s very cheap.  You can get medicated or non-medicated feed; as much as I’m a pseudo-hippy that lives an organic lifestyle, I prefer the medicated feed to avoid potential illnesses among the fragile chicks.  You can add in a probiotic to their feed when they are juveniles to ensure that their gut bacteria are all in order.
  5. You will need a coop for them to live in after they get bigger.  In Ferndale, that means you will need to create a permanent structure, and go through the process of getting the building approved.  Read more about the muni code & information on building a chicken coop in Ferndale MI. Chicks grow quickly, and will need a place to transition to- and you will look forward to getting them out of your house.  Why?  Because…

    Chicks must be gradually introduced to older hens.  In this case, we used a 'chicken tractor' to keep the two groups physically separated but able to see each other.
    Chicks must be gradually introduced to older hens. In this case, we used a ‘chicken tractor’ to keep the two groups physically separated but able to see each other.
  6. Chicks create a lot of dust & droppings.  The droppings are stinky, and frequent.  You’ll need to clean the brooder box daily to keep the chicks from stomping around in their own waste.  This gets tiresome, but far worse is the dust that’s created.  This fine dust WILL coat everything in the same room as the brooder box.  It’s not toxic or stinky, but it often comes as a surprise after you’ve had the chicks for a few weeks and begin noticing that all your nice furniture has a fine, pervasive layer of dust on it.
  7. If chicks get ill, you will need to get them medication immediately.  That’s why I prefer having some on-hand, though it needs to be replaced regularly as it loses it’s effectiveness.
  8. Backyard chickens, much like dogs & cats, are a commitment of time, energy, and money.  You will need to make sure they are protected, fed, and healthy- and because they live outside in a world that wants to eat them, that presents its own set of unique challenges.  Plan on having to deal with attacks from local wildlife, and secure your coop like Fort Knox.  Make sure you have a veterinarian lined up for illnesses.  And always arrange for someone to look after them if you’re going away for an extended period of time.
  9. You will need to ensure that you don’t attract rats.  Rats are attracted to food & places to hide:  nothing more, nothing less.  If you build a coop that won’t allow rats to get inside as well as secure all sources of feed, you won’t have rat problems.  If you think you have rats, contact me immediately and I will help you figure out how to get rid of them.  Ferndale has a problem with rats in the downtown area due to improperly secured dumpsters, we as homeowners must not provide ‘greener fields’ for the rats to move to.
  10. People who keep backyard chickens fall in love with them, but not everyone feels the same.  By being a conscientious homeowner & chicken keeper, you’ll keep the peace among your neighbors.  Keep it clean, attractive, and in-compliance with the law.

Must-Have Items for a Backyard Chicken First Aid Kit

chicken first aid kit

I did an interview for Carhartt’s women’s clothing last year, centered mainly on why I wanted backyard chickens in Ferndale as well as the struggle around getting the ordinance changed.  However, as we talked about keeping & raising chickens, I kept coming back to one topic that most people don’t think through often enough:  what do you need to have on hand if your chickens get sick or injured?

I’m a negative, paranoid person who tends to think in terms of worst-case scenarios, and it’s served me well.  In the few years that we’ve had chickens, I’ve run into several times when my negative outlook and adamant stance on keeping a first aid kit around has come in handy. Such misadventures include:

  • When Bossy got a persistent yeast infection
  • Little Girl’s mysteriously cut & bloody comb and wattles
  • Little Girl’s slight case of being egg bound
  • Bossy ripping her entire toenail off
  • Multiple cases of extreme feather picking, to the point of hens being bloodied
  • Multiple cases of broken/cracked beaks
  • Chicks from TSC having a respiratory infection
  • Hens overheating from 100+ degree humid days in summer

There was also the time Partridge got killed by a hawk- obviously there was nothing I could do by the time I found her, but the looming danger has ensured that I’ll always have bandages and a treatment plan in my head in the event that a hawk injures them without killing them.

Every time someone asks me what they should know before getting chickens, I tell them to put together a first aid kit.  Here are my basic recommendations:

  • Wazine: a wormer, for emergency purposes.  Some people recommend worming twice per year, but chickens often develop a natural resistance to these pests- use this only if necessary after a fecal test.
  • Tetracycline Hydrochloride: an general antibiotic for use primarily when you notice respiratory issues or ‘headcold-like’ symptoms
  • Sav-a-chick Electrolytes:  crucial for when weather gets very hot, or when dealing with an ill bird
  • Flexible/vet wrap: get the kind that sticks to itself, for use in holding bandages in place if a bird gets injured
  • Gauze pads: for injuries
  • Wound wash: be sure to get one without pain relievers, as those are toxic to birds
  • Activated charcoal: for symptoms of poisoning
  • Providone Iodine ointment: a substitute for things like neosporin, for injuries–great antibacterial ointment
  • Blu-Kote: germicidal fungicidal wound dressing.  Crucial for a chicken kit- when chickens see red or blood associated with an injury, they will peck at it, and can turn cannibalistic if they’re not stopped.  BluKote turns the wound area dark blue-purple, which immediately stops the other hens from picking at an injury.
  • Rubbing alcohol: sterlizing
  • Hydrogen peroxide: wound cleaning/debriding
  • Styptic powder with no pain relievers: for staunching blood flow, but be sure it does not have pain relievers in there, as most that are used with dogs do
  • NuStock: ointment used for burns and skin disorders, also can help prevent feather picking- just be aware that it stinks!
  • Medical scissors: for cutting dressings and feathers around a wound site
  • Epsom salts: for soaking when the hen is egg bound or needs a site cleaned
  • Superglue: for repairing a broken beak (it does happen)
  • Tweezers: for pulling splinters
  • Nutrient drench: for sick hens to revitalize and regain energy
  • Probiotics: for use after antibiotics
  • Gloves:  for when things get messy
  • Book: The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow, contains tons of information on disease, illness, and malnutrition including symptoms and treatment

400 fans!

400 fans!

We just passed 400 fans on the Ferndale Backyard Chickens facebook fan page!  What a great thing to come in and see after cleaning out chicken poo from the coop run.

It’s cold out there!

It's cold out there!

One of the best things you can invest in when getting backyard chickens: a remote temperature reader. This way, you can obsess over the slightest temperature variations and neurotically check on your ladies to make sure they’re not chickensicles. (They’re not- in fact, they’re fine down to around 0degrees without any heat source, so long as they’re dry and away from drafts.)

The Great Molt is finally over!

The Great Molt is finally over!

It’s relatively balmy out today, so it was a great morning to let the chickens run around. They’re FINALLY done with their molt and are turning regal again- I’m always amazed by how their feather catch the light just right.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but there’s something about their feathers that make them look like a painting to me, in nearly every photo.

The telltale signs of a great dust bath.

The telltale signs of a great dust bath.

I let the ladies out of the run to wander in the snow, when one of them stopped right by the doorway and shook like a dog. The dark spot is all the dirt she was carrying around with her after her in-coop dust bath.

GRAPHIC: abnormal finding in the coop

Alright, a gross mystery for you all.

Ben went out to check on the ladies this morning, and came back in telling me there was weird red egg inside the coop.  He described it as looking like “a cherry tomato”.  Scary.  I went to investigate.

There was a red lump, surrounded by wet bedding.  Above, a shell-less egg with a TON of watery poo nearby.  Keep in mind- I clean this coop every day, so this wasn’t a buildup of poo from a few days or anything.

I can only assume one of my ladies had a VERY bad morning.

I examined the mass at length: it felt like it contained liquid (it did), had an attached ‘cord’ with what appeared to be ova at the end, a dark spot inside that, after dissection, turned out to be extra tissue inside the sac, and the ‘liquid’ inside appeared to be egg yolk.

So… what is this thing?  Did my hen lay an egg yolk… maybe dragging other egg yolks with it?  Is it a cyst?  Whatever it is, the ladies all seemed healthy and happy  and were running around scratching like normal, so I’ve got to assume that it’s not, ya know, vital to their function.

Snow Chickens

The ladies have been completely terrified of the snow, until recently.  I had to show them that it wasn’t dangerous by opening their door and calling them out with some scratch treat, but the other two followed Big Bossy out as she came toward me.

Chickens of the Mist

misting chickens
Chickens of the Mist, or: How I Learned to Make an Evaporative Cooler on a Hot June Day

In Ferndale/Detroit, yesterday and today are hitting temperatures in the high 90’s with around 70% humidity.  The heat is oppressive, to say the least.  I’ve been staying indoors in the cool air conditioned climate as much as possible, but the chickens don’t have that luxury.  The temperature sensor in the coop read a whopping 100 degrees at noon yesterday, and the ladies were hanging out below it, panting hard and keeping their wings away from their bodies.  Buff orpingtons like these were bred in England, and are cold hardy- which means they’re absolutely not designed for this sort of stifling weather.  Luckily, this should be the last day like this for a while, but if we continue to encounter temps like this, I have a plan.

chicken mister setup
I’ve been filling large bottles with water and freezing them solid; we placed one in front of the box fan and angled my hose set to “mist” so that the water hits the frozen jug and the cooled vapor gets blown at the coop run.

We made a simple evaporative cooler for the girls that seems to have helped in a major way.  I’ve been filling large bottles and jugs with water and freezing them solid- it makes your freezer run more efficiently to have them in there, and I’ve got them on hand to place in the coop run for the chickens to hang out nearby (not that they do, but even having it in the vicinity seems to help).  To make it, we place a box fan a short distance away from the run, placed the frozen jug in front of it, and angled my hose set to ‘mist’ so that the water hits the frozen jug and gets blown toward the run.  The cooled vapor travels into the shadey area under the coop, where the chickens like to hang out- I can FEEL that it’s cooler down there than it is in the surrounding yard.

chicken mist setup
another shot showing the mist created by the evaporative cooler

Best of all, the chickens don’t seem to notice it too much, and just hang out under the coop as they usually do.  Yesterday, during intial setup, we discovered that they would NOT hang out in the shade under the coop with the fan directly against the runs fencing- it was just too new and scarey for them, and despite the heat they were standing in direct sunlight away from the fan.  Once we moved it away and behind some plant life, they went right back into the shade.   Care also needs to be taken to not spray too much water into the area you want them to hang out in- they’ll avoid having the water hit them.

In addition to the evaportive cooler, I added some “Sav-a-chick” to a giant metal waterer and placed it down in the run (rather than inside the coop itself).  It’s basically gatorade for chickens, helping to keep them hydrated while they’re panting and losing water through their heavy breathing (this is primarily how they cool down).  They each drink roughly .5 liters of water in the summer; you want to keep them stocked with water at all times, and keep the water cool (ie. not out in the sun).  Drinking cool water will decrease their core body temperature, and having the “chicken koolaid” mix in there will reduce their need to drink, avoiding any potential “water toxicity” issues (unlikely to happen, but possible).

I also put out a shallow dish of water that they could stomp around in, but they’re avoiding it like the plague.

We’re also being mindful of what they eat right now- greens and cool fruit are a better choice, and care should be taken to avoid cracked corn and corn products, as those will raise their core body temperature (so keep it handy for winter!).

In the event that they show signs of not being able to handle the heat even with these precautions, I’ve got a tent set up in my basement that I’ll move them into.  I’m hopeful that it won’t come to that, since I’m sure the change of scenery would stress them out only slightly less than the extreme heat.

Coverage of Ferndale’s First Legal Coop- Ferndale 115

Source:  http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2012/05/18/ferndales-first-legal-chicken-coop/

Ferndale’s First (Legal) Chicken Coop

(Crystal A. Proxmire, The Ferndale 115 News, May 15th, 2012 edition)

Big Bossy, Little Bossy and Little Girl seem happy.  The six week old Buff Orpingtons strut around their sandy front yard, playing like sister chickens do: nudging, pecking, cuddling, running, rolling around in the sand and darting back up the wooden ramp to their luxury penthouse, aka Ferndale’s first legal chicken coop.

Laura Mikulski was the organizer of the Ferndale backyard chicken movement.  After meeting other suburban families that keep backyard chickens, Mikulski wanted to bring the option to Ferndale.  She researched backyard chickens and lobbied City Council to pass an ordinance allowing them.

After several months of research and consideration, theFerndale City Council approved an ordinance that allows individuals to have a chicken coop on their property as long as they follow certain rules.  Homeowners are limited to three hens. Roosters are not allowed.

The requirements of the ordinance are:

“As structured the ordinance would allow for the raising and keeping of three (3) hen chickens and no roosters. Residents would be required to receive an annual permit which would expire on December 31st of each year. Any applicant receiving a permit is required to schedule an inspection within 30 days of the permit issuance, if violations are noted at the inspection the applicant has 15 additional days to resolve the identified issues. Chickens are required to be kept in the rear yard, structures (coops) must be designed to prevent accessibility to vermin, feed must be secured in enclosed containers and compliance with the Michigan Department of Agriculture Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices for the Care of Farm Animals (GAMPS) must be maintained.”

Mikulski believes in following the law, so she waited until the process was complete. She and boyfriend Ben Wojdyla then made the plans.  With approximately $500 plus many reclaimed items, the chicken family’s new home took about two months to build

The entire coop area is surrounded with wire mesh that is tight enough to keep out rats and other predators.  The coop is topped with polycarbonate sheeting reclaimed from another project.  There is a door so people can enter, but there is also access to tend the chickens from the outside: a lever allows them to open and close the door at the top of the ramp to the chicken’s house, and a long top-opening door lets them access any eggs that may have been laid in the nesting area.  The door has a magnetic top so it will stay open while they harvest the eggs.  To best utilize the space and help provide a layer of shade to the roof of the coop, Mikulski and Wojdyla created a strawberry bed on top.

The doors to the chicks’ house are stained glass cabinet doors, and the siding is made of slats reclaimed from pallets.  Everything is decorated to match the home and garage, an aesthetic fit with the rest of the backyard’s landscaped splendor.

On May 15th the couple had their inspection.  “Basically, the inspection centered around the coop being structurally sound,” Mikulski said in her blog www.ferndalechickens.com.  “He checked the roofing to make sure it was secure, and the fencing and nesting box door hinges.  He asked what we’ll do in the winter, and I told him I’m firmly against heating the coop- the chickens I have will grow to be big girls, and they’ll essentially be wearing down coats. He seemed pleased with that, since there had been an incident several years ago involved a wire shorting out on a coop in Ferndale- my worst fear.

“The permit expires on December 31st every year, so I’ll need to go into the city and schedule another inspection and pay my fee in early December.  I figure I’ll just do it around the same time I renew my car registration.”

Her advice to people who want to build a coop: “Draw the plan first, but be flexible in building. Consider drainage and ventilation- chickens need to be dry. Build everything at a height that is comfortable for you to work in/with. Be mindful of cleaning issues and form a plan that allows you to clean with ease.”

Finding the chickens wasn’t hard, Mikulski just looked on Craigslist.  When she got them back in February she kept them in inside the house until the coop was complete.  “When they’re done growing they’re going to be big birds,” she said, noting that she specifically sought out Buff Orpington chicks because of their mild-manner and their heftiness once grown.

“The ladies won’t lay eggs for a while, and when they start it might take a while before the eggs come out fully developed.  Sometimes they come out without a shell.  Sometimes they’re just tiny.  Sometimes there could be ‘fart eggs,’ which are eggs without a yolk inside.”  Once they girls do mature though, they will likely lay about one egg per day.

“I just love being able to come out here and watch them.  It’s so peaceful.  The littlest things make them so happy,” Mikulski said.  Big Bossy, Little Bossy and Little Girl enjoy eating seed and leafy veggies. They also love rolling around in the sand and dirt.  They even get along well with the family dog Hurley.  “He’s never seemed bothered by them in the least,” Mikulski said.

For much more information on backyard chickens, check out www.ferndalechickens.com.

For official City of Ferndale ordinance information and more, go to www.ferndale-mi.com.

   For stories of how this all came to be, check out:

http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2011/04/20/chicken-coops-in-ferndale/

http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2011/05/12/the-chicken-petition/

http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2011/09/15/council-to-vote-on-chicken-coops

http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2012/01/07/chicken-coop-ordinance-to-be-considered-by-council-monday/

http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2012/01/15/new-rules-allow-for-backyard-chickens/

The countdown begins.

Just over 24 hours until the coop gets inspected!  I’m nervous and excited.

We put some finishing touches on the coop over the weekend- lots of paint, installing the brackets for the polycarbonate roof, installing a door handle, etc.  There are still some more things I’d like to do, but I’ll wait until after we get approval from the city inspector.

The coop is ready for inspection!

The green roof is prepped with dirt, and waiting for strawberries to be planted.  Can you believe I haven’t been able to find strawberries at any of the nurseries this year?  I had to break down and order some online.

Nice mix of garden and potting soil

We also put a latch on the inside of the run door, after in incident where the chickens were spooked and bumped into the door.  The door only stayed open for a second, but that’s long enough that if there was a dog running around the coop, they might have the opportunity to race inside.  Obviously I can’t let that happen, so my failsafe is now installed, for use when I’m in the run.

latch on the inside of the run door

We put some hanging planters from Ikea in the run, just for a decorative touch.  I absolutely love it- the hint of extra greenery really adds to the overall appearance.

the chickens don’t really care about hanging planters

We painted everything to match the house and garage, so the coop seems to “belong” there.

the coop and the garage look good together
another view of the garage and coop

The lever for the chicken door is on the outside- in the future, we’re hoping to install an automated or remoted controlled door.

the rod sticking out with the black handle is the push/pull door control

Door hardware matches on the run door and the nesting box lid.  We also added a magnet to the window cover on the back of the coop, so that the window can stay open.

black handle and hinges on the door
black handle on the nesting box, magnet keeping the window cover open

All in all, it was a ton of work this weekend.  Painting the trim in the places where the 1/2 hardware cloth is attached was a pain, and took a long time to get all the nooks and cranies filled.  I also went over all the “vulnerable points” after hearing something walking around the garage one night when I went to close the girls in- we used horseshoe nails to ensure that the hardware cloth is attached in every place that a predator might seek access, mainly as reinforcement to the staples we had previously used.  The pavers seen around the coop are in their position temporaily, as I’ll be leveling them and making some paths through the garden in the future.  At the end of the day Sunday, we were exhausted and ready to just sit down and admire the finished product.

Hurley likes to think she helped.
Hurley helps by watching the chickens enjoy their pretty new coop. Good job Hurley!

To all the people who said they wouldn’t want to live next to someone with backyard hens- is this what you pictured?

We’re #1!!

dramatic chickens!

The girls are feeling pretty dramatic after finding out that we’re the 1st to submit our coop paperwork to the city. Apparently lots of people have gotten the packet, but nobody had turned it in… until now. The clerks at the city offices were wonderful and helpful, and even gave me the contact information of someone asking about chickens. Hopefully I can call them later to give them all the info they need to make a decision to get some hens!

Coop inspection is scheduled for 3:30pm Tuesday the 15th, next week. Time to put the finishing touches on the coop and get ready to wow our city officials.

What a hard life!

The girls are enjoying a nice warm day, perched on the edge of their coop window.  I’m pretty jealous of them.

Like big globs of honey.

Today is the big day- we’re turning in the building permit and fees associated for the coop license.  Keep you fingers crossed- I’m hoping the inspector will be able to come out in the next few days to check it out and give his blessing.

 

Chicks dig dirt.

The chicks are enjoying a nice dust bath in the shade on this steamy spring day.

These girls are the fat orange cats of the chicken world, and as such are already getting a little spoiled.  They come running at the sight of me in the backyard, not out of affection, but because I usually have a delicious treat.  Lately it’s been dandelion greens, broccoli leaves, strawberries, and a tiny piece of ham.  I think they nearly lost their little chicken minds over that piece of ham.

 

Curious.
Snagging a bite.
Once Big Bossy gets a bite, everyone moves in for some, now that they know it’s safe.

The girls are getting bigger every day, and looking more and more like real chickens.  I think I may have even heard a cluck last night as I was closing them into their coop.

Looking proper.
Big Bossy eyes the camera.
Green eyed dinosaurs.
Chickens have inscrutable faces- the only way to tell if they’re angry is body language, since their faces have a permanent frown.

Ferndale Chicken Coop Paperwork: where to get it, how to fill it out

The city has put together a nice bundle of paperwork for the backyard coop permitting/inspection process.  I’ve taken pics of the sheets from the bundle for any prospective chicken owner to peruse before putting together their coop:

The building permit needs to be filled out, much like you would if you were building a shed.

In addition to filling out the building permit and chicken coop application, they require a basic site plan indicating that the location of the coop meets the dimensional requirements and a plan for the coop’s construction demonstrating that the material requirements are being met.   The fee for the permit is $35 annually, and is paid when you submit your application to the city.  You can schedule your coop inspection at the same time.  The permit and application are available at City Hall, which is also where you turn in the completed paperwork.

Putting together my site plan tonight, and should be able to turn in the completed paperwork tomorrow.  Can’t wait to have everything done and legal!

 

 

Dogs living with chickens? It can work!

The only thing I was worried about with keeping backyard hens was my dog’s reaction.

Hurley is fast, and has the highest prey drive I’ve ever seen in a dog.  I’ve watched this dog snatch low flying birds out of the air, and found countless headless carcasses in my backyard.  I stopped feeding birds in the backyard for this very reason.

Before letting these chicks out into their run on a trial basis, Hurley managed to snatch a fledgling sparrow.  I yelled, she dropped it, and it hopped away while she looked ashamed.  With that fresh in my mind, I was incredibly nervous about the prospect of her reaction to seeing large, tasty looking birds hopping around on the ground right in front of her (albeit separated by a fence).

Looks like all my worrying was unfounded.

Hurley is very dignified.
Vigilant as always.
She still has to look at them from time to time- they make fascinating noises!
Satisfied that they're not up to anything worthwhile, Hurley goes back to watching the yard.
Hurley is way more interested in what I'm up to.
And now she's bored enough that she's just going to lay down in the dirt. Nice.

I’m counting myself lucky.  I think these birds spent enough time in the house and around me that they’re exempt from the normal backyard prey menu.

A whole pack of paperwork: getting things permitted.

Paperwork was picked up from the city offices this morning, and after a brief glance everything seems pretty straightforward.  We’re in compliance with all the rules, now we just need to draw up the dimensions and submit the application along with the $35 license fee.

The girls are strolling around their run during the daytime, and being brought inside like spoiled pets at night.  What?  it’s getting down into the low 30’s at night right now, and I’d be a hot mess if I inadvertently harmed them by leaving them out in the cold while they’re still so young.  The good news is that the chicks are learning that the cat carrier is their best friend, and they walk right in with a little shooing when I come out at dusk.

Little Girl still has some of her head fluff hanging on, despite looking like a mini adult everywhere else. So cute!  I love that she looks like a painting in this picture below.  Part of me will miss having these little girls in the house, despite being relieved that I won’t have to clean up the wood shavings they kick out of their brooder box.

Image

Chicks are growing, and need to be in the coop

fuzzy head chicks

They grow so fast!!

Here they are the day after I brought them home.

fuzzy head chicks
Look at those little fuzzy heads!
pullets
mini adult chicks (pullets)

They’re quickly getting too big for the brooder, and I’m eager to get them outside.  Little known fact:  chickens wake up earlier than yours truly, and immediately want to be fed and run around.  I’m all for that when I’m not sleeping less than a foot away from them.

Chicks acquired, coop nearing completion!

Coop with attached pergola
Coop with attached pergola
Coop with attached pergola over the run

Lots of stuff happening in preparation for the permit and inspection!!

The chicks were acquired March 18th, and have been staying in my house in a brooder box.  I didn’t get them at the tiny fluffball stage- they had a few “big girl” feathers, and were likely about 3 weeks old.  They’re growing FAST, which means that I need to get them out of the brooder box and into the coop as soon as possible.  It’s been a madhouse trying to get everything built and installed, but the end is in sight and we should have it ready for the chicks this weekend.

Now, the difficult part: trying to figure out who I need to contact at the city for the permitting process, and what forms (if any) need to be filled out.

Per the ordinance that was passed, “Completed applications shall be submitted to the community and economic development department along with the fee which shall be determined by city council resolution. Application shall be made to the community and economic development department and shall include any drawings or other information required by the department.”.  I looked on the Ferndale city website, and couldn’t find any application.  I feel weird about filling out  a building permit application, or writing my own- but if it’s necessary, I will.  I’d also like to know what the exact requirements are for drawings/information that I need to submit- can I just list out the dimensions, or do I need to mock up a drawing of the coop?  So many questions, and no time to go down to city hall.  Hopefully they respond to my email today, so I can get started on any paperwork and drop it off this week.

Ordinance Wording

http://ferndale-mi.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?meta_id=25501&view&showpdf=1

Chair Roediger referred to the State of Michigan’s Generally Accepted Agriculture and
Management Practices for the Care of Farm Animals indicating that 6 square feet of space per chicken constitutes humane stocking density.
The consensus of the Commission was that staff garner input from other communities that permit chickens. It was generally agreed that permitting and neighbor approvals are
unnecessary. Maximum number of chickens is proposed at three in conformance to the current maximum number of permitted cats and dogs. Zoning requirements include restricting the keeping of chickens to single family residential units(R-1 district) and requiring setbacks of 10’ from any residential structure on an adjacent property and 5’ from the property line.
The revised ordinance should reference permanent materials, adequate ventilation and
maximum size limitation for coop construction. Coop construction and location should be in compliance with existing accessory structure requirements in Sec. 9-2 of the zoning ordinance. It was the further noted that the State’s Generally Accepted Management Practices be consulted to draft the provisions for managing food and the handling of dead animals.

Sec. 5-8. Keeping of Chickens.

(1) Any person residing in R-1 or R-2 residential zoned district property, in a single family detached structure, obtaining a permit from the city, may keep not more than three (3) hen chickens in the city for personal use only and not for any business or commercial use. Completed applications shall be submitted to the community and economic development department along with the fee which shall be determined by city council resolution.
Application shall be made to the community and economic development department and
shall include any drawings or other information required by the department. The
department shall issue a permit where the application is in compliance with all
requirements, regulations and ordinances of the city. Approved permit holders shall-
schedule an inspection within thirty (30) days of permit issuance. Failure to schedule an
inspection shall- result in an automatic revocation of the permit. If an inspection
identifies noncompliance with any of the requirements set forth in (3), the permit holder
shall have fifteen (15) days to achieve compliance with the requirements or the
department may revoke the permit or seek prosecution of the violation under Chapter 26-19 of the Ferndale Code. Permits shall be valid for up to one (1) year, shall be nontransferable, site-specific and shall expire on December 31st of each year. A person who wishes to continue keeping chickens shall obtain a new permit prior to expiration of the previous permit. Application for a new permit shall be pursuant to the procedures and requirements applicable at the time a person applies for a new permit.

(3) A person residing in R-1 or R-2 residential zoned district property, in a single family
detached structure who keeps hen chickens shall comply with all of the following
requirements:
a. Keep no more than three (3) hen chickens at any time.
b. Roosters or male chickens and any other type of fowl or poultry are prohibited.
c. Slaughtering of any chickens at the property is prohibited.
d. Chickens shall be maintained in a fully enclosed structure or a fenced enclosure
and shall be kept in the enclosed structure or fenced enclosure at all times. Fenced
enclosures are subject to all fence provisions and restrictions in the Ferndale
Code. An enclosed structure shall be constructed of permanent materials and shall
be properly maintained in accordance with the property maintenance code
adopted by the city in Section 6-16 of the Ferndale Code, as amended.
e. Chickens shall not be kept in any location on the property other than in the
backyard. For purposes of this section, “backyard” means that portion of a lot
enclosed by the property’s rear lot line and the side lot lines to the points where
the side lot lines intersect with an imaginary line established by the rear of the
single-family or two-family structure and extending to the side lot lines.

f. No enclosed structure shall be located within any side or rear yard setback area.

An enclosed structure or fenced enclosure shall not be located closer than ten (10)
feet to any residential structure on adjacent property.
g. All structures and enclosures for the keeping of chickens shall be constructed and
maintained so as to prevent rats, mice, or other rodents or vermin from being
harbored underneath or within the walls of the structure or enclosure.
h. All feed and other items associated with the keeping of chickens likely to attract
rats, mice, or other rodents or vermin shall be secured and protected in sealed
containers.
i. Chickens shall be kept in compliance with the Michigan Department of
Agriculture Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices for the
Care of Farm Animals, as it relates to Laying Chickens, as amended, except as
otherwise provided in this ordinance.
j. Any violation of any of these provisions may be prosecuted as provided in
Chapter 26-19.

CHICKEN ORDINANCE PASSES!

http://ferndale.patch.com/articles/ferndale-city-council-approves-backyard-chicken-ordinance

Finally, after years of talking about it, it’s done.  I have to commend Ferndale city council for taking time to understand the issue and really listening to the community and facts concerning the keeping of urban hens.  It’s been a long time coming, and I’m really glad that I can finally move forward with building a coop and getting my laying hens.

Also, if I never have to say the word “rats” again, I’ll be a really happy camper.

Coverage in the Oakland Press!

http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2011/09/06/news/local_news/doc4e66171311d4b591299644.txt

FERNDALE – Allowing chickens in residential backyards in cities such as Hazel Park and Madison Heights hasn’t raised much of a squawk, and Ferndale may be next with a new fowl-friendly law.

The city Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing Sept. 14 on a revised ordinance that will permit residents to keep up to three chickens, but no roosters.

The issue in Ferndale has been marinating since earlier this year when Laura Mikulski and some other residents began pressing city officials to allow chickens and change an existing ordinance that requires chickens be kept at least 150 feet from the nearest neighbor’s property.

Given the size of residential lots in Ferndale, the current ordinance effectively bans chickens in 90 percent of city neighborhoods.

Coverage by the Macomb Daily!

Current laws already address noise, smell

Allowing chickens in residential backyards in cities such as Hazel Park and Madison Heights hasn’t raised much of a squawk, and Ferndale may be next with a new fowl-friendly law.

The city Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing Sept. 14 on a revised ordinance that will permit residents to keep up to three chickens, but no roosters.

The issue in Ferndale has been marinating since earlier this year when Laura Mikulski and some other residents began pressing city officials to allow chickens and change an existing ordinance that requires chickens be kept at least 150 feet from the nearest neighbor’s property.
Given the size of residential lots in Ferndale, the current ordinance effectively bans chickens in 90 percent of city neighborhoods.

But that prohibition may soon head south.

City officials said they have been talking with their counterparts in other communities where chickens are allowed as they consider whether to allow them in Ferndale.

“I’ve spoken with Ypsilanti and Madison Heights,” said Derek Delacourt, Community and Economic Development director in Ferndale. “Each community had between 10 and 20 permits pulled (to keep chickens) and they have had few, if any, complaints.”

Ferndale is considering an ordinance that will reduce its current distance limits on chickens from nearby property owners and introduce requirements for coops to be kept in rear yards. Concerns about cleanliness, odor and attracting vermin are covered mostly by existing city laws.

Backyard chicken advocates say the birds are a natural, low-cost way to have fresh eggs and fertilizer for gardens. Keeping chickens in urban areas is a somewhat popular trend and over the past several years has cropped up in New York, San Francisco and cities in between.
http://www.macombdaily.com/articles/2011/09/04/online/srv0000013582873.txt

USA Weekend: It’s easy to raise your own backyard chickens.

http://www.usaweekend.com/article/20110902/HOME/309020004/It-s-easy-raise-your-own-backyard-chickens-?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage

Raising chickens is the natural next step for anyone growing her own fruit and vegetables. And the popularity of “homesteading” like this has a lot to do with the economy: Raising your own food is almost always cheaper than buying it at the store.

Plus, chickens make great pets, says Patricia Foreman, author of City Chicks and co-host of the Chicken Whisperer Talk Show on blogtalkradio.com. “They’re not the dirty, stupid, prickly birds they’re reputed to be.” To work on their image, Foreman has what she calls “chicken ambassadors” (named Oprah Henfrey and Attila the Hen, by the way), which she brings to schools and nursing homes to spread the good word about chicken rearing.

Here are some of her tips:
Get six to eight hens.

At their peak, each chicken will produce an egg a day. After just a couple of years, production will decrease, but they’re still useful: They act as insect regulators, eating ticks and fleas. They also can help keep waste out of landfills, as they will eat (and enjoy) your kitchen scraps.
Have a good coop.

Be sure they have a coop structure in which they will be protected from nocturnal predators. The design can vary, but it should have a roof, a branch or 2-by-4 for roosting, and a “run,” where the chickens have space to roam.
Get advice.

Local poultry club members can tell you good breeds for your area.
Check the laws.

In many municipalities, hens are OK, but roosters are not; in others, no chickens are allowed.

Commission meeting Sept 14th!!

http://ferndale.patch.com/articles/public-hearing-on-ferndale-chickens-set#pdf-7554503

The revised ordinance will be discussed at the next Planning Commission meeting 7 p.m. Sept. 14 at City Hall. This meeting is considered a public hearing. It is not a public forum, but time will be allowed to discuss the chicken ordinance. If approved by the Planning Commission, it will then go to City Council.