Saturday, January 17, 2009
The city of Longmont is considering allowing chickens within the city limits. Living outside the city limits this it is not a personal issue for me, but I'd like to encourage Longmont, as well as other cities to allow chickens. I've had chickens for 8 years now; six of those were in the city of Lakewood, Colorado where it is legal in certain areas of the city.
With renewed interest in sustainable living raising chickens is a valuable hobby that teaches both children and adults more about their food sources. With real tangible benefits, being egg production, a small flock of chickens allows a family to be more independent. Raising backyard chickens goes hand in hand with the increased interest in urban vegetable gardening and manure from the chickens can go right to the garden for fertilizer. Chicken owners know that home grown eggs are better tasting and healthier than those bought at the store.
Due to our current economic situation every step we take to become more independent is good. Strong local communities are necessary to solve both economic and environmental issues. Getting closer to our food and clothing production is one way of building stronger communities.
There is a misconception that chickens smell because people associate them with megafarms. While a farm with thousands of chickens will certainly smell bad, a home flock of 3-10 chickens will smell no more than a dog or cat. And the quiet sound of hens clucking is very soothing. Understandably, some people find the crow of a rooster unpleasant but a rooster is not necessary to keep hens. Other benefits of chickens are that they eat insects and food scraps from the kitchen. They can provide hours of entertainment value as they scratch around the yard; a better choice than TV. And if you live next door to chicken owners you may be lucky to get excess eggs when chickens come into their prime in the spring.
Chickens require a shelter from the elements in the form of a coop, about 3 square feet per bird. They also need a fenced area to run outside and still be protected from predators. Predators in the city will include dogs, foxes, opossums and raccoons. The fenced run is usually attached to the coop with a 12 inch door so they can come and go as they please.
You can even get miniature chickens called bantams that require less space but also make smaller eggs. Chickens have been a part of my life for 8 years now with no complaints from neighbors. I can’t imagine being without them.
Longmont City Council will be discussing this issue on Tues night Jan 20.
For more information see these sites:
I recommend Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow.