Raising hens at home? Eggcellent!

Many are rearing poultry to join the slow-food movement; others do it because they can all but guarantee food safety in the wake of the 2010 salmonella outbreak. But beyond the threat of disease, home-grown eggs are just plain healthier: A 2007 study by Mother Earth News confirmed that pasture-raised hens who are free to forage for bugs, worms, grass, and leaves produce eggs with four to six times the vitamin D and a third less cholesterol as their mass-market counterparts.

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Did you see us in the Woodward Talk?

“I’d like to … ensure that most every resident in Ferndale who is interested in owning a backyard flock could legally do so,” Mikulski wrote via email. “I’d also like to see Ferndale adopt ordinance language that would define proper keeping practices to ensure that we don’t develop nuisance issues.”

Read more here:

Another write up in the Ferndale Patch!


On Thursday, Mikulski started a petition drive to gather supporters for those who also want to be able to legally raise chickens in their backyards.

Mikulski said after an April 15 story by Ferndale Patch about Ferndale residents keeping chickens, she started receiving an outpouring of support (as well as numerous media inquiries). But there had been no real way to quantify that. Thus the petition was born.

“The main goal is to not just be able to track support but to also show council that Ferndale wants chickens,” she said.

Another write up concerning our efforts in the Ferndale 115!


Laura Mikulski’s crusade continues. On April 19 we brought you news of a young Ferndalian hoping to raise chickens in her backyard. http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2011/04/20/chicken-coops-in-ferndale/ . She and supporters researched how other cities handled urban chickens, and has put together a website to educate people – and City Council – about the subject. (https://ferndalechickens.com/) Now she is asking interested residents to sign an online petition asking for a change in the ordinance which would allow coops to be built near homes. (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/support-backyard-chickens-in-ferndale/).
“I was incredibly surprised by how quickly the news spread and very pleased that the vast majority of people who’ve talked to me are supportive,” ” Mikulski said. “Recently WXYZ came to my street looking for me, but I was still at work- so, instead they went door to door speaking to my neighbors, and ultimately interviewed a gentleman on my block that had had issues with pests when he kept chickens before.
‘It created a great dialogue between my neighbors and myself, which allowed me to explain how to avoid pest issues, that roosters aren’t necessary for eggs, and the benefits inherent in keeping a few hens. My neighbors nearest to me were very supportive of the idea, and one neighbor even thinks he’ll likely have a few laying hens when the ordinance passes.”
Mikulski said that she started the online petition to help gauge community support, and to show city leaders that there is an interest in changing the ordinance. The ordinance does not ban chickens – only stipulates that a chicken coop cannot be within 150 feet of a neighbor’s residence. Ferndalechickens.com gives examples of how other cities have crafted chicken coop regulations. For example, Ann Arbor’s ordinance allows one up to 40 feet away, and Ypsilanti’s calls for 20 feet. The site also addresses common concerns such as smell, noise and safety.
Though she does not yet keep chickens herself, Mikulski is getting to know more families in Ferndale that do. “I’ve connected with a handful of people keeping backyard flocks, but surprisingly have found many more people who don’t currently have chickens who think it’s a wonderful idea. Most of them don’t even necessarily want a flock of their own- but they still see the value it would bring to others and the community as a whole,” she said.
City Council is currently considering the information provided. Those who want to find out more about the issue or get involved can contact Mikulski at lmikulski@gmail.com.

To sign the petition, go to http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/support-backyard-chickens-in-ferndale/.

To read about a family in Ferndale and their experience keeping chickens, check out our previous story – http://ferndale115.com/nuevo/2011/04/20/chicken-coops-in-ferndale/.

Backyard Chickens: Make our eating life easier

Backyard Chickens: Make our eating life easier.

“There is nothing easier than grabbing a warm egg from the laying box, cracking it open, and taking two minutes to cook it. Eggs can go on top of toast, oatmeal, salad, hamburgers, polenta, pasta, rice, etc. – they are key ingredients in lots of baking recipes. After the initial investment, eggs are an accessible cheap protein. They are always there in the back garden waiting to be collected and eaten.”

Hello world!

I bought my home on Hazelhurst in September of 2006, choosing to live in Ferndale largely due to the quality of the community. As an avid organic gardener and compost tea brewer, I’ve thrilled to see my neighbors revive or create backyard gardens these past few years. Their efforts are indicative of a growing movement to eat locally, not only to save money, but to reconnect to our food sources, ensuring the nutritional quality of the produce we consume as well as decreasing the resources needed to get it to our table. Our community increasingly shows an appreciation for a naturally healthy lifestyle coupled with a strong DIY spirit- the perfect combination to embrace an ordinance making backyard urban chicken keeping accessible.

Back in June of 2008 I started looking into our city ordinances concerning the keeping and maintenance of chickens. Through research, I came to the conclusion that while Ferndale doesn’t prohibit ownership, it has effectively denied the opportunity to most of our residents by way of an unreasonable poultry housing distance requirement. I’ve posted the section below:

Sec. 12-116. Keeping, housing fowl.

It shall be unlawful to keep, house or maintain fowl within a distance of 150 feet of any building or part of a building used by any person or persons for habitation other than that of the person (including members of his household) so keeping, housing or maintaining fowl. It shall also be unlawful to maintain pigeons, seagulls or other wild fowl so as to create an unsanitary condition or odor. Violation of this section constitutes a misdemeanor and is declared a public nuisance subject to abatement as provided in section 12-112.

(Ord. No. 899, Pt. VII, 10-12-98)

To quote an email response from Jay Singh, Ferndale City Assessor on 9/30/2009:
“From my rough memory I would say the average lot size in Ferndale is 40 feet by 110 feet.” (not yet independently verfied by plat map averages)

If our ordinance disallows the keep, housing, or maintenance of fowl within 150 feet of an occupied residential dwelling, then Ferndale may as well reword the ordinance to expressly ban domestic fowl.

Instead, I’d like to see Ferndale repeal Ordinance 899 and take a more progressive approach, much like Ann Arbor did in 2008 and Ypsilanti did earlier this year. See below:

Ypsilanti Ordinance No. 1100 (adopted 7/21/2009)

-keeping of up to 4 hens
-coop/enclosures must be at least 20 feet from any residential structure not owned by the permitee unless written permission is granted from the owner of the affected residential structure.
-any keeping of roosters
-slaughter of hens
-violation of noise ordinances
-keeping chickens in any other area besides the backyard


Ann Arbor Ordinance No. 08-19 Chapter 107 Animals (adopted 6/2/2008)
-up to 4 hens
-coop/enclosures must be at least 40 feet from any residential structure not owned by the permitee unless written permission is granted from the owner of the affected residential structure.
-any keeping of roosters
-slaughter of hens
-violation of noise ordinances
-keeping chickens in any other area besides the backyard


These are just two examples of local communities enabling their citizens to make a move toward a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. Across the country, urban chicken farming is encouraged in cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Austin, Portland and Seattle. These communities are allowed to enjoy the nutritional benefits fresh, non-commercial eggs confer, the economic advantages of decreasing their bottom line grocery expense, as well the invaluable appreciation of food sources in an increasingly industrialized society. The repeal of the prohibitively restrictive portion of Ord. 899 would demonstrate a great commitment to the green movement and health & welfare of Ferndale citizenry, further distinguishing our city as a destination for innovative and ecologically minded individuals.

Please take a moment to peruse the sites I’ve listed below for more information:

Please read: