This document was prepared for submission to our HOA by using the document, Chickens for Montgomery by Valerie Taylor, as a foundation. We altered the document to Subdivision Indentures, HOAs and our story.
The Brief on Chickens
“[Insert Your Subdivision Here] has a unique opportunity to promote our community as one of an elite class of communities leading the way in promoting sustainable living. Sustainable living is a growing trend across the nation and many communities are adjusting their ordinances and redefining their indentures to promote healthy and sustainable communities.”
[Address] | [eMail] | [Phone Number]
Table of Contents
Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 3
Laws Permitting Chickens in Nearby Suburbs ………………………………………………………. 3
Chickens and the History of Suburban Development………………………………………………. 4
Why Were Chickens Prohibited by Earlier Lawmakers? …………………………………………. 4
What About Homeowners’ Association Agreements? …………………………………………….. 4
Redefining Poultry and Household Pets ……………………………………………………………….. 5
Backyard Chickens Are Not Farm Animals …………………………………………………………… 5
Backyard Coops are Attractive and Clean ……………………………………………………………… 6
Chickens Are Not a Nuisance……………………………………………………………………………….. 6
Chickens Are Not Smelly……………………………………………………………………………………… 6
Chickens are Not Messy ………………………………………………………………………………………. 6
Chickens Are Not Noisy……………………………………………………………………………………….. 7
Chickens Do Not Annoy the Neighbors …………………………………………………………………. 7
Chickens Do Not Attract Predators to the Area ………………………………………………………. 7
Chickens Do Not Pose a Public Health Risk…………………………………………………………… 8
Chickens and the Environment……………………………………………………………………………… 9
Water Quality and Runoff ……………………………………………………………………………………. 9
Greenhouse Gas Emissions…………………………………………………………………………………… 9
Living Sustainably ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 9
Chickens and Property Values ……………………………………………………………………………… 10
Lot Size Doesn’t Matter ……………………………………………………………………………………… 10
Chickens Are Educational …………………………………………………………………………………… 10
Chickens and Emergency Preparedness…………………………………………………………………. 10
Chickens and the Economic Crisis………………………………………………………………………… 10
Enforcement and Burdens on Trustees …………………………………………………………………. 11
Appendix B: Backyard Coops ……………………………………………………………………………… 13
Appendix C: Chickens as Pets …………………………………………………………………………….. 14
Appendix D: The New Coop de Ville (Newsweek 11/17/08)……………………………………. 16
Appendix E: 7 Myths of Backyard Chickens…………………………………………………………. 19
Appendix F: Greenhouse Gas Emissions………………………………………………………………. 21
Appendix G: Letters of Support …………………………………………………………………………… 23
Appendix H: Property Values …………………………………… ………………………………………. 25
Appendix I: History of Prohibitions on Chicken-Keeping………………………………………. 26
Appendix J: Meet the Feathered [Insert Surname Here].………………………………………… 26
Appendix K: Pet Chicken Resources…………………………………………………………………… 27
In the post‐WWII decades, many urban and suburban communities around the country instituted laws intended to distance us from our then‐unfashionable rural roots. It was a time when neighborhoods were built without sidewalks, “ChemLawn” seemed like a great name for a business, and keeping chickens in the backyard served as an uncomfortable reminder of the fact Grandma used to slaughter a hen on the back porch every Sunday morning. Suburbanites seeded their lots with grass, installed lawn sprinklers, sprayed and sprayed and sprayed, and passed laws prohibiting chickens in urban and suburban backyards. In recent years, many of us have started to realize that maintaining a close connection to our food is a positive, not a negative, and is a part of living a more sustainable lifestyle. Farmers’ Markets are experiencing a revival, people are gardening more, and communities around the nation are changing decades‐old laws forbidding the keeping of chickens. It should come as no surprise to any longtime resident of St. Louis that many suburbs here never prohibited chickens at all. In fact, like St. Louis County Unincorporated areas, many of our neighbors permit chickens. Most allow them on any size lot. And throughout St. Louis County, people are indeed keeping chickens without causing problems for their neighbors, their community, or their property values. There are so many reasons to find a way to allow rather than prohibit chickens in the [Subdivision Name] Subdivision. We propose one of two things: creating a definition of household pet and poultry to coincide with those listed in the St. Louis County Code (see Appendix C) or putting the matter to a majority vote of the Subdivisions’ homeowners.
Ballwin, restricted by lot size
Bayless, no restrictions, no nuisances
Clayton (allowed at least 17 years)
Creve Coeur’s City Council, after three years of banning them
Ellisville, 4 hens, no roosters
Eureka, 6 hens by permit
Fenton, City of, prohibited
Ladue (allowed at least 10 years)
Maplewood (allowed since 2009)
Richmond Heights (allowed since 2012), by permit
Rock Hill (allowed since 2009)
Shrewsbury, 5 hens by permit
St Louis (allowed 20+ years), 4 hens without a permit, no roosters
University City (allowed since 2009)
Valley Park, being discussed, bill proposed to allow with restrictions
Webster Groves (allowed at least 12 years), 8 hens (subject to lot size), permit
The above list describes other communities here in St. Louis which allow chickens, restrict them, or essentially prohibit them. The list of those allowing them includes Clayton, Ladue and Webster Groves, all of which have growing communities of chicken‐keepers and have had no problems associated with their chicken‐keeping residents, according to city employees.
Only a few neighboring communities limit chickens in such a manner as to essentially prohibit them within their boundaries. Most of our neighboring communities forbid problems that might arise with chicken keeping, rather than forbidding chickens themselves. And this has paid off for residents – those communities that allow chickens tend to have on average the highest property values (Appendix H.) Current ordinances in St. Louis County (Appendix A) already provide sufficient protection to residents from possible problems with chicken‐keeping. These ordinances include code which requires animals to be confined, which forbids offensive animal odors, which requires property be maintained, and which limits noise. (Of note: typical hens are closed up in their coops between 8 and 9pm during summer months ‐‐ earlier in winter ‐‐ and do not emerge until mid-morning to ensure they lay their eggs in their nesting boxes before being released into their run for the day. While closed up in their coops, hens sleep and are silent.)
The birth of the modern suburb was a time when many of us were seeking to define ourselves as sophisticated and more like those in the cosmopolitan city than like those in unfashionable rural small towns and farming communities. The car was a symbol of that cosmopolitan lifestyle, so we eliminated sidewalks – why, after all, would anyone walk who could afford to drive? The sidewalk became a symbol of poverty and backwardness. Later generations regretted that decision and many have retrofitted sidewalks and streetlights in their neighborhoods. The keeping of chickens and other food‐producing animals was also unfashionable during the decades immediately following World War II, and for similar reasons. The problem wasn’t one of chickens creating a nuisance; it was one of wanting to seem modern, cosmopolitan, and sophisticated. (Appendix I)
Just as suburban communities sought to increase the desirability of their area by prohibiting unfashionable food‐producing animals, developers sought to increase the relative desirability and exclusivity of their subdivisions within their communities by drawing up agreements under which the residents of these subdivisions would live. The first such agreements specified what kinds of fences and outbuildings could be erected and where on a property. By the 1990s, some were including prohibitions of everything from vegetable gardens to basketball hoops. The suburban ideal is a dynamic concept; as more people become interested in living a greener lifestyle in the suburbs. The idea of what is ‘ideal’ evolves to reflect the community’s values. What seemed important in 1965 may seem counterproductive to achieving the ‘ideal’ suburban lifestyle in 2012. Many residents of subdivisions with HOAs drawn up years ago may find that some of the rules are ones they’d like to change. Fortunately, most of these agreements can be changed if the current residents wish to make such changes. Currently, many of these restrictions are covered in St. Louis County Code which covers everything from architectural additions, fences, and pools to property maintenance and the keeping of domesticated animals. In either of these cases, the city and/or police are not called upon to enforce HOA agreements; enforcement is handled under civil law. In our case, our HOA defers to the St. Louis County Code to approve property improvements and handle most property maintenance. In either case our HOA has made the precedent to defer to County Code and has the ability to enforce or not enforce specific areas of the indentures that may be out of date.
We propose that chickens be considered outside the ban of poultry and instead be considered
- Indentures Section V. Restrictions. 11. Livestock and Poultry
No animals, livestock, or poultry of any kind shall be raised, bred or kept on any lot, except that dogs, cats or other household pets may be kept provided that they are not kept, bred or maintained for any commercial purpose.
Definitions from Mirriam-Webster
Poultry: domesticated birds kept for eggs or meat
Pet: noun: a domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility
We maintain that our chickens although capable of laying eggs, like any bird, are not kept primarily as a food source. We also own bantam hens, who while they do lay eggs, do not contribute to our family’s dietary needs. We keep them solely as pets. By not keeping chickens in the traditional sense to supply our family’s protein requirements, we maintain that pet chickens fall outside the realm of the poultry classification and are instead covered by the term pet. Further, with the rise of a common acceptance of chickens as pets, we propose that pet chickens fall under the definition of household pet as classified in the Subdivisions’ Indentures.
If the Subdivision feels chicken‐keeping does not fall under the aforementioned definitions, we would like to propose an amendment to change our Subdivision Indentures to allow for pets allowed by St. Louis County Code, which considers chickens to be pets (no other poultry has this exclusion). Our family is willing to work with the other chicken owners in the community to create an amendment recommendation acceptable to the Board of Trustees. According to our Indentures, we must obtain a majority vote from the homeowners. We would like to offer our assistance in the process of the vote. According to results during a similar process in Eureka, residents were in favor of allowing the option to raise chickens with a 10 to 1 margin in favor of chickens.
These covenants shall be filed in the Office of the Recorded of Deeds of St. Louis County, Missouri, and shall run with the land and shall be binding upon the Parties hereto and future owners of the property herinabove described and upon all persons and corporations claiming under the Parties hereto for a period of thirty (30) years from the date of these covenants are recorded, after which time said covenants shall be automatically extended for successive periods of ten (10) years, unless a written instrument signed by the then, owners of the majority of the lots has been recorded agreeing to change these covenants in whole or in part.
Indentures Section V. Restrictions
For thousands of years, chickens, like dogs and cats, have lived alongside people in backyards large and small in cities and small towns. Unlike a half‐ton bull or 400‐ pound hog, a six‐pound hen is not inherently a farm animal. The typical laying hen starts to produce at four to six months, lays nearly daily until she is 6, and then lives another two years. A crucial point is that for backyard chickens (unlike their counterparts on farms), the end of productivity does not bring on the end of life. Commercial chickens are bred to produce large numbers of eggs very quickly and then to be culled and used for such things as animal food and fertilizer. Suburban hens, however, are treated as individuals. They are typically named, and when around age 6 they stop producing eggs, they are ‘retired’ and treated as pets for the remaining year or two of their lives. Chickens are friendly, social, intelligent, affectionate, entertaining, low‐maintenance, small, quiet, and inexpensive to keep. They are quieter and cleaner than most dogs. They uniquely offer suburban and city‐dwelling children the opportunity to understand a little more clearly where their food comes from. And they offer all of us the opportunity to produce a little of our own food.
Unlike large commercial poultry operations or rural farms, people in cities and suburbs who keep chickens in their backyards tend to keep them in attractive, well‐ maintained enclosures and treat their chickens as pets. Backyard coops are no more of an inherent eyesore than a trampoline, play structure, or hot tub, and in fact many are portable so that the chickens are never in one place long. Appendix B contains examples of backyard coops on suburban and city lots. St. Louis County Animal Control Codes provide regulation requiring that housing be well‐maintained, clean, sanitary, and free of odor or other conditions that would cause a nuisance.
While many may be interested in keeping chickens, a general rule of thumb is that only 5% to 10% of households might be actually raise chickens.
Chickens Are Not a Nuisance (See Appendix E)
Chickens themselves do not smell. Any possible odor would come from their droppings, but 5 hens generate less manure than one medium‐sized dog. Ten chickens produce less waste in a day (.66 lbs) than a 40 pound dog (.75 lbs). Also, chickens are not walked around the neighborhood leaving waste in others’ yards. The average chicken keeper is also a gardener, and (unlike the feces of dogs and cats, which carry pathogens and cannot be composted) chicken droppings represent an excellent source of free organic fertilizer when composted. Unsanitary conditions can result in a buildup of ammonia in large‐scale operations, which is why commercial poultry facilities often smell. This is not the case for small backyard flocks. St. Louis County Animal Control Ordinances and Missouri DNR require that chickens and enclosures be maintained in a sanitary condition free from offensive odors.
MDNR regulation 10 CSR 10-5.160, Control of Odors in the Ambient Air, restricts the release of excessive odors on properties adjacent to or on residential, recreational, institutional, retail sales, hotel, or educational premises. Under Saint Louis County Ordinance 612.340, any odor can be deemed objectionable and cannot be released beyond property lines. Odors can come and go from an area very quickly. Inform the Air Pollution Control Program immediately if an odor becomes a nuisance.
Chicken enclosures used in city and urban settings tend to be attractive and are easily maintained. Small flocks are managed with a minimum of time and energy on the part of their owners. In keeping with Subdivision indentures, enclosures/temporary buildings shall be attractive and well‐ maintained.
Hens are quiet birds. It is only roosters that are known for loud morning crowing, and roosters are not necessary for the production of eggs. The occasional clucking of hens is generally not audible beyond 25 feet. Some hens give a few squawks while actually laying an egg or bragging about it afterward, but this noise is very short‐lived and much quieter than barking dogs, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, passing trucks, children playing, and other common neighborhood sounds. St. Louis County Codes require that chickens be maintained in a manner free from excessive noise.
NB Within approximately 15 feet, most normal chicken noises are barely audible. Our neighbors and ourselves very rarely hear our hens. Wild birds generally make more noise.
Being a good chicken owner includes being considerate of our neighbors by keeping the area neat and clean. (The same goes for outdoor dog and cat owners.) St. Louis County Ordinances and Animal Control can address nuisance issues, should they arise from raising backyard chickens or other animals.
Chickens, if left unprotected, are vulnerable to predators. But as the predators of chickens are the same as those of the wild rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, small birds, and other local wild prey animals already present in our community, they do not themselves attract predators to the area. Coyotes, for instance, are seen more often when they take a cat or small dog than when they take a rabbit. But the presence of chickens does not attract predators to the area; predators are already here.
Indeed, chickens are part of the solution to pesky problems. Chickens are voracious carnivores and will seek out and eat just about anything that moves including ticks (think Lyme disease), fleas, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, stink bugs, slugs, and even mice, baby rats and small snakes.
7 Myths of Backyard Chickens by Patricia Foreman
We have noticed a significant reduction in the number of mosquito and other bug bites on our children. My husband and my children all have allergic reactions to mosquito bites and we were not able to spend evenings outside because of them. Now we have our evenings back and can spend more quality time outdoors, so long as they are spent in the backyard as they still receive bites in the front yard.
Many more upscale communities in the St. Louis area have more relaxed ordinances pertaining to chickens. While some residents have questions and concerns about backyard chickens, one thing is certain, residents can feel comfortable knowing that these communities would have already repealed their city code ordinances allowing chickens if those issues were causing major problems. All of these neighboring cities have been allowing backyard chickens for years, some for decades.
- Clayton (at least 17 years)
- Ladue (at least 10 years)
- Maplewood (since 2009)
- Rock Hill (since 2009)
- St Louis (20+ years)
- University City (since 2009)
- Webster Groves (at least 12 years)
Each of these cities report very few complaints over the years. St. Louis County Codes offer protection in the unlikely case a neighbor would raise chickens in an irresponsible manner.
The type of Avian Influenza that is contagious to humans has not been found in North America. Bird Flu is spread by contact with the contaminated feces of wild migratory waterfowl. So the key issues are sanitation and contact with wild birds. Unlike rural farm birds which might co‐mingle with migratory birds or drink from a shared pond, backyard chickens are contained in an enclosure and watered inside this enclosure. As reported in Newsweek Magazine (Appendix D): …as the Washington‐based Worldwatch Institute (an environmental research group) pointed out in a report last month, experts including the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production have said that if we do see it, it’ll be more likely to be found in factory‐farmed poultry than backyard chickens. As GRAIN, an international sustainable agriculture group, concluded in a 2006 report: “When it comes to bird flu, diverse small‐scale poultry farming is the solution, not the problem.” Unlike cats and dogs which are prime vectors for rabies, parasites, and tick‐borne diseases, backyard chickens actually keep your yard healthier for humans by eating ticks, mosquitoes and other insects. Salmonella, which has been associated with raw eggs, is a problem with factory‐ farmed eggs, not with backyard chickens. This issue can be addressed with good hand-washing practices when handling any animal, including dogs and cats ( http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/salmonellosis.htm). The human/chicken interaction is also addressed in a recent USDA report “Poultry 2010: Reference of the Health and Management of Chicken Flocks in Urban Settings in Four U.S. Cities, 2010.”
According to the OSU Extension Service (http://ohioline.osu.edu/b804/804_3.html) the average laying hen produces .2 ‐ .3 pound of droppings per day, as compared to the average dog which produces 1 pound (according to the National Pet Alliance.) Unlike dog and cat waste, chicken droppings can be composted for use on gardens and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. Chickens reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides by eating bugs and weeds. By their very presence, chickens discourage the use of chemical lawn and garden sprays by their owners. Chicken keeping is likely to represent a net improvement in water and runoff issues rather than the opposite. Issues of manure runoff from egg‐producing chickens are associated with huge factory‐style egg farms that generate tons of manure each day in a very concentrated area. For those of us who wish to continue to eat eggs in a sustainable fashion, low‐density backyard chicken keeping is the solution to runoff issues, not the problem. Gardeners using commercial organic fertilizers are very likely to be using chicken‐manure based products, and those keeping chickens will have less need for even these. So keeping chickens won’t increase even the net amount of organic fertilizers used; chicken‐keeping gardeners will simply be producing it themselves rather than purchasing it.
In 2008 the City of Fort Collins, Colorado changed their city ordinance to legalize backyard hens. At the time, a thorough investigation was conducted on the environmental impact of residents keeping chickens. At that time, Environmental Planners in Fort Collins’ Department of Natural Resources concluded that backyard hens would not significantly impact greenhouse gas emissions. (Appendix F). There’s no reason to believe this would be any different here in St. Louis County.
Increasing numbers of us are interested in living more sustainably, and many communities, our community included, are encouraging citizens to reduce waste and consumption of resources. Backyard chickens allow us to reduce our carbon footprint by producing some of our own food. Every food item we can produce organically and on our own property – just outside our back door – is one less item that must be shipped to us and shopped for. Every item of food we raise ourselves represents a step in living a greener, more sustainable, lifestyle. People who have backyard chickens are less likely to use chemicals and pesticides in their yards and gardens because it’s healthier for their chickens. In return the chickens eat weeds and bugs that normally plague unsprayed yards. Composted chicken manure is one of the most efficient natural fertilizers and is provided for free with no need for transport. Backyard chickens eat grass clippings which might otherwise end up in the landfills and food scraps which might end up in the garbage and sewage.
Local Realtors say that the presence of an attractive, well‐maintained backyard chicken coop is no more likely to affect values for neighboring properties than the presence of an attractive, well‐maintained backyard rabbit hutch. (Appendix G) In addition, some prospective home owners may be attracted to a community with a progressive stance on green issues such as chicken keeping. It’s impossible to know which stance is more likely to attract rather than repel the greater number of prospective home buyers – the one that encourages conformity, or the one that encourages sustainability. In fact, the areas with the fewest restrictions on the keeping of chickens tended to have the highest property values. (Appendix H)
Chickens require very little space. Shelter for four or five hens does not require any more space than that represented by many kitchen tables, and a run of 4 square feet per hen is sufficient to keep them happy and healthy. Households all over the country are keeping chickens on city and suburban lots. Whether a backyard chicken‐keeper has a quarter of an acre or three hundred, he is likely to keep his hens in an enclosure with the same small footprint. Within approximately 15 feet distance, most normal chicken noises are barely audible.
Chicken keeping offers suburban children the opportunity to learn where their food really comes from and about healthy, sustainable, nutritious food. They will see first hand how kitchen scraps become garden fertilizer which in turn produces beautiful vegetables. Instead of simply hearing, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” they will actually experience it. Suburban kids can participate in 4H or FFA programs through keeping chickens in a suburban yard.
Many governments are asking community members to prepare for emergencies, whatever the cause. Backyard chickens provide a constant stream of fresh eggs without regard to the availability of electricity or refrigeration. Backyard hens will help our community to be more food self‐sufficient under any circumstances.
The cost of food has risen dramatically lately, including the cost of high‐quality protein‐rich nutrient‐dense food such as pastured eggs. On average, pastured organic eggs cost around $3.50 to $4.00 a dozen. In comparison, four or five backyard hens will require a total of about $60 in feed each year and lay about 120 dozen eggs between them, depending on breed and age. That’s a savings of over $400 a year. In addition, an egg provides about 7 grams of protein, which means those 120 dozen eggs – obtained at a cost of $60 per year ‐‐ will supply the complete protein needs of the average woman. The ability to raise some of your own food can help provide a greater sense of security in insecure times.
By interpreting the Indentures to include those household pets allowed by the St. Louis County Code, chickens are excluded from the customary definition of poultry or livestock. By interpreting the Indentures in this way, all complaints and issues associated with residents keeping chickens may be brought to the Department of Health Animal Control Division. By doing so, the burden on Trustees is lessened and in many cases is less than those issues associated with dogs and cats.
Chicken keeping is very popular among those who are concerned about the environment, among those concerned about food safety and security, and among those interested in self‐sufficiency and preparedness. Dozens of newspaper and magazine accounts of communities which have changed their laws to allow chickens have been written. Several environmental and educational organizations here in St. Louis are offering classes in Beginning Chicken‐Keeping, and these have proved popular.
Many local communities have recently amended or changed their ordinances to allow for chicken-keeping. In fact, the St. Louis community interest group, Meet Up Group Backyard Chickens in St. Louis has the eighth largest Chicken-keeping Meet Up group in the world, with over 400 members. On June 24th, 2012 they are hosting a Sustainable Living Tour of St. Louis area backyards. Sixty backyard gardens will be on this year’s tour. Last year this tour had over 3,000 visitors and more are expected this year.
Recently Eureka residents fought and won the right to keep chickens in the city.
We also continued surveying Eureka residents since the last month’s meeting, and results were 10-to-1 in favor of us being able to have the chickens,” Burns [a resident] said. “We hope to get this right back. We still believe we should have this right.
Here in our area, chicken-keeping has grown dramatically over the past several years. This spring the Fenton Feed store has sold over 500 chicks to local families. When asked about the number of people purchasing chicks in small quantities for backyard coops, they said that 90% to 95% of their customers purchasing chicks have small suburban flocks.
In conjunction with the self-sustainability movement, the green movement, the smaller homes movement, government incentives and campaigns, our subdivision’s location and lot sizes, we have a unique opportunity to promote our community as a progressive and healthy environment for raising families or for those wanting peace and quiet with access to all Fenton and St. Louis have to offer. We have the chance to become one of an elite class of communities leading the way in promoting sustainable living. Let’s lead the way in providing a local community of communal areas, pleasing aesthetics and a quiet, peaceful environment, while still giving community members the flexibility to live a green, self-sustaining lifestyle.
611.210 – Dogs, Cats, Puppies, Kittens and Other Animals Creating a Nuisance—Prohibited.
1. Every person responsible for a dog, cat, puppy, kitten or other animal shall keep it from creating a nuisance.
2. A dog, cat, puppy, or kitten or any other animal creates a nuisance if it:
a. Soils, defiles or defecates on property other than property of a person responsible for the animal unless such waste is immediately removed and deposited in a waste container or buried on property where the person responsible for the animal has permission or the right to bury it.
b. Damages public property or property belonging to a person other than a person responsible for the animal.
c. Causes unsanitary or dangerous conditions.
d. Causes a disturbance by excessive barking, howling, meowing or other noise making.
e. Chases vehicles, including bicycles.
f. Molests, attacks, bites, or interferes with persons or other animals on public property or property not belonging to a person responsible for the animal.
g. Impedes refuse collection, mail delivery, meter reading or other public service activities by annoying persons responsible for such activities.
h. Tips, rummages through, or damages a refuse container.
(O. No. 22315, 5-17-05)
In unincorporated St. Louis County, residents are allowed to keep chickens on their property as pets, but may not breed them for sale or sell any of their bi-products (i.e. eggs). Residents who elect to keep chickens on their property must abide by SLCRO 611.210 and not allow the animals to become a public nuisance.
It is unlawful to discharge dense smoke, harmful fumes, gas, vapors, or any other toxic substances from any site in amounts significant enough to be dangerous to people’s health. In addition, it is against the law to discharge objectionable odor beyond the property boundary of origin.
SLCRO 602.050 Declaration of Nuisances
SLCRO 612.340 Air Pollution Nuisances Prohibited
A good coop provides shelter and adequate space for the number of chickens kept in the flock. Additionally, coops should be easy to maintain and clean, as well as give hens a place to lay eggs and the owner easy access to the eggs. Coops can be constructed in one of two ways:
This is a portable chicken coop, designed to be moved from one spot to the next and light enough to be moved by two people (one on each end) or by one if wheels are attached on one end to allow it to be tipped up and rolled along. Each day the chickens get a fresh patch of grass, weeds, and bugs to eat and leave behind a small amount of natural organic fertilizer to feed the lawn. At night they go up into the top where they roost, completely protected from nocturnal predators. The sides come off to allow for cleaning, and the ends open up to allow eggs to be collected and nesting boxes to be cleaned out. It’s 42” high and has a footprint on the lawn of 4’ x 8’, which is enough room to keep 4 or 5 chickens very happy and healthy. You build this yourself from plans. http://www.catawbacoops.com/
Our coop is constructed of durable, heavy particle board. The boards are thick enough to provide protection from the elements as well as provide sound-proofing for any noise the hens may make whilst laying their eggs. The hens climb a ramp into the coop at night and we remove the ramp and close the door to ensure their safety at night. The bottom is lined with heavy linoleum and the side lifts up entirely to facilitate cleaning. There is also a lid on the nesting box to allow access for egg collection and cleaning. Bedding of straw in the winter and wood shavings in the summer provides warmth, discourage flies and other insects, and neutralizes any odors.
Purchasing a Coop
DIY Coop plans may be purchased online, or created to an individuals specification from the numerous examples online.
Coops may also be purchased at many large retailers, such as amazon.com, Walmart, Petsmart, Petco and MyPetChicken.com.
Livestock and Poultry no more. More and more families are seeing the benefit of having chickens as the new family pet. Chickens are being promoted as pets by mainstream media from PBS, The Wallstreet Journal, The New York Times, LA Times, Martha Stewart and the list goes on. Even major retailers are jumping on board. Chicken coups can now be purchased online through most major pet stores such as PetCo or PetSmart, Walmart, the Home Depot, or other new specialty stores such as My Pet Chicken.com.
Why have pet chickens? In our humble opinions, chickens are nature’s perfect pet! What other animal is curious, affectionate, loves to cuddle, plays, talks to you (quietly), provides hours of enjoyment, yet still gets rid of pests in the garden, composts up to 7 pounds of table scraps a month, is very easy to clean up after (compostable waste is a definite bonus) and is often so quiet that neighbors do not realize they are there? Our family pets all have personalities and names to match. The girls love playing with our two young boys. We have photos of our youngest son playing with the hens. Last summer at, a year and half of age, whenever he sat down in the yard, the girls would all come over to visit him and play. We have photos of them all taking dust baths together. Now that they are getting older, whenever it gets too quiet in the house, we check the pen with the chicks. Our younger son likes to sit and visit with them, singing to them or trying to take his naps on the floor next to their cage. It is our older son’s responsibility to feed the big girls outside and help me clean the coop, check for eggs and change their water. He sees the bigger hens as playmates and they chase each other around the garden.
Our original intent when purchasing our pullets was threefold. We wanted family pets for our children. Additionally, we decided to start an organic gardening based educational daycare and the pullets were an integral part of that process, serving as educational pets and a part of the garden. We had the added benefit of getting eggs, although it took almost 8 months before we got any eggs. We have developed the garden even further this summer. While our original purpose for raising chickens was for their eggs and educational benefit, within a few days of getting our girls, they became pets. We had no idea how much fun they could be or what a significant part of our family they would become.
Personally, we believe that many others feel the same way, as is evidenced by the booming growth in the pet chicken market.
Here are a few selections describing chickens as pets:
In unincorporated St. Louis County, residents are allowed to keep chickens on their property as pets…
St. Louis County Ordinance Guide
.Keeping chickens as pets has become increasingly popular over the years among urban and suburban residents. Most chickens are kept on farms for the agricultural production of meat and eggs but some chickens are kept as pets for entertainment and educational reasons, along with homegrown eggs and sometimes meat. With the growing interest in all-natural pest control alternatives, people are now keeping chickens to rid their property of unwanted insects and larvae, which uses the birds’ natural instinct to seek out and eat bugs.
Livestock feed and pet food maker Purina Mills is seeing double-digit growth for its small, 5-pound bag of all-natural poultry feed marketed since 2003 to people who raise small flocks for eggs or as companion animals.
Backyard Chickens, a Web site that began to help city residents raise chickens, says its community of about 27,000 people is growing rapidly, with about 100 new members daily. [now over 60,000]
The Web site’s owner, Rob Ludlow of Pleasant Hill, Calif., attributes the increased interest in raising suburban chickens to three factors: their relative ease of care as pets; increased interest in getting food from humane, local sources; and a desire by some to produce their own food in tough economic times.
Chicken advocates also point out that the chickens are treated as pets, and when a hen’s productive years are over, they are far from neglected. They’re often doted on like a member of the family — one that can eat bugs and provide fertilizer. One Web site, chickendiapers.com sells “diapers” that enable chickens to roam around indoors without soiling carpets. The owner reports that sales have climbed by 20 or 30 percent in the past few years.
“A lot of people, surprisingly, have them for pets,” said Lughai, who in his film explores the bond people have with their chickens. “They’re like a dog or cat.”
Eureka board of aldermen added a caveat to an existing ordinance regarding keeping chickens as pets within the city limits of Eureka.
One of the state’s leading poultry experts – Gary Butcher at the University of Florida – said he is constantly fielding inquiries about whether cities should allow chickens as pets. He urges communities to keep an open mind to the idea.
Butcher, a professor of veterinary medicine, said pet chicken advocates are wrong in their belief that the eggs are more healthy, but he said cities should not blow concern about noise and waste out of proportion. He suggests allowing chickens with some restrictions – such as no roosters and a limit on the number of hens based on the size of the property.
“We are so urbanized now and there is a desire by some people to get back to nature,” Butcher said. “No one can give a really good, sound reason not to allow chickens if they are handled properly. You might as well not allow dogs and cats.”
Hilary Swank, the 2009-2010 spokeswoman for the Home for the Holidays adoption campaign
“… there is an animal for everyone out there.” Besides dogs and cats, people may be surprised to learn about the horses, goats, turtles and even chickens available for adoption.
Radio Personality..Andy Schneider, better known as the Chicken Whisperer™ has become the go-to guy across the country for anything chickens. Over the years he has helped a countless number of people start their very own backyard flocks. He is not only a national radio personality, but also a contributor for Mother Earth News Magazine, Grit Magazine, and Farmers Almanac. He is the owner of Atlanta Pet Chickens, Classroom Chickens, and is the Founder/Organizer of the Atlanta Backyard Poultry Meetup Group that has quickly grown to over 1,600 local members! He has been featured on CNN, HLN, FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, as well as in The Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, The Economist, USA Today, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, New Life Journal, and countless other local and national publications.
The New Coop de Ville The craze for urban poultry farming. Jessica Bennett NEWSWEEK For Brooklyn real‐estate agent Maria Mackin, the obsession started five years ago, on a trip to Pennsylvania Amish country. She, her husband and three children—now 17, 13 and 11—sat down for brunch at a local bed‐and‐breakfast, and suddenly the chef realized she’d run out of eggs. “She said, ‘Oh goodness! I’ll have to go out to the garden and get some more’,” Mackin recalls. “She cooked them up and they were delicious.” Mackin and her husband, Declan Walsh, looked at each other, and it didn’t take long for the idea to register: Could we have chickens too? They finished their brunch and convinced the bed‐and‐breakfast owner, a Mennonite celery farmer, to sell them four chickens. They packed them in a little nest in the back of their Plymouth Voyager minivan and headed back to Brooklyn. The family has been raising chickens ever since, in the backyard of their brick townhouse in an urban waterfront neighborhood called Red Hook. Every Easter, Mackin orders a new round of chicks, now from a catalog that ships the newborns in a ventilated box while they are still feeding from their yolks. When they are grown, she offers up their eggs—and occasionally extra chickens, when she decides she’s got too many—to friends and neighbors, and sells a portion to a local bistro, which touts the neighborhood poultry on its Web site. She gives the chicken manure—a high‐quality fertilizer—to a local community garden in exchange for hay, which she uses to pad the chickens’ wire‐fenced coop. Occasionally, she kills and cooks up a chicken for dinner—though, she says, her chickens are egg layers and aren’t particularly tasty. “We joke and call ourselves the Red Hook Poultry Association,” says the former social worker, who at one time housed 27 chicks inside her kitchen—for six weeks. “Sometimes people are like, ‘This is really kind of weird’.” As it turns out, Mackin is hardly an anomaly, in New York or any other urban center. Over the past few years, urban dwellers driven by the local‐food movement, in cities from Seattle to Albuquerque, have flocked to the idea of small‐scale backyard chicken farming—mostly for eggs, not meat—as a way of taking part in home‐grown agriculture. This past year alone, grass‐roots organizations in Missoula, Mont.; South Portland, Maine; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Ft. Collins, Colo., have successfully lobbied to overturn city ordinances outlawing backyard poultry farming, defined in these cities as egg farming, not slaughter. Ann Arbor now allows residents to own up to four chickens (with neighbors’ consent), while the other three cities have six‐chicken limits, subject to various spacing and nuisance regulations. That quick growth in popularity has some people worried about noise, odor and public health, particularly in regard to avian flu. A few years back in Salt Lake City— which does not allow for backyard poultry farming—authorities had to impound 47 hens, 34 chicks and 10 eggs from a residential home after neighbors complained about incessant clucking and a wretched stench, along with wandering chickens and feathers scattered throughout the neighborhood. “The smell got to be unbelievable,” one neighbor told the local news. Meanwhile, in countries from Thailand to Australia, where bird flu has spread in the past, government officials have threatened to ban free‐range chickens for fear they are contributing to outbreaks. (In British Columbia, where officials estimated earlier this year that there are as many as 8,000 chicken flocks, an avian flu outbreak four years forced the slaughter of more than 17 million birds.) But avian flu has not shown up in wild birds, domestic poultry or people in the United States. And, as the Washington‐based Worldwatch Institute (an environmental research group) pointed out in a report last month, experts including the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production have said that if we do see it, it’ll be more likely to be found in factory‐farmed poultry than backyard chickens. As GRAIN, an international sustainable agriculture group, concluded in a 2006 report: “When it comes to bird flu, diverse small‐scale poultry farming is the solution, not the problem.” Many urban farmers are taking that motto to heart. In New York, where chickens (but not roosters, whose loud crowing can disturb neighbors) are allowed in limitless quantities, there are at least 30 community gardens raising them for eggs, and a City Chicken Project run by a local nonprofit that aims to educate the community about their benefits. In Madison, Wis., where members of a grass‐roots chicken movement, the Chicken Underground, successfully overturned a residential chicken ban four years ago, there are now 81 registered chicken owners, according to the city’s animal‐services department. “There’s definitely a growing movement,” says 33‐year‐old Rob Ludlow, the Bay Area operator of BackyardChickens.com and the owner of five chickens of his own. “A lot of people really do call it an addiction. Chickens are fun, they have a lot of personality. I think people are starting to see that they’re really easy pets—and they actually produce something in return.” Because chickens can be considered both livestock and pet, farming them for eggs— or keeping them as pets—is unregulated in major cities like New York and Los Angeles. But it isn’t legal everywhere. According to one recent examination by urban‐agriculture expert Jennifer Blecha, just 65 percent of major cities allow chicken-keeping, while 40 percent allow for one or more roosters. (Hens don’t need roosters to lay unfertilized eggs.) Chicken slaughter, meanwhile, tends to fall under a separate (and generally stricter) set of regulations, though they’re not always enforced. Most cities that allow chicken farming limit the number to four or six per household, so many urban farmers aren’t raising enough chickens to slaughter and sell anyway—though they may cook up a meal or two at home. If they want to slaughter more, there are mobile slaughterhouses in places like Washington state that will do the dirty work for you: USDA‐approved refrigerated trucks will pull right up to your doorstep.
Chicken farmers are finding each other on sites like TheCityChicken.com, UrbanChickens.org and MadCityChickens.com. BackyardChickens.com logs some 6 million page views each month and has some 18,000 members in its forum, where community members share colorful stories (giving a chicken CPR), photos (from a California chicken show), even look to each other for comfort. “I am worried that non‐BYC people won’t understand why a 34‐year‐old woman would cry over a $7 chicken,” writes a Stockton, N.J., woman, whose chicken was killed by a hawk. Over at UrbanChickens.org, which launched this year, founder K. T. LaBadie, a master’s student in community planning, provides updates on city ordinances, info about local chicken‐farming classes and coop tours and has been contacted by activists hoping to overturn chicken bans around the nation. In Albuquerque, where she lives with her husband and four chickens—Gloria, Switters, Buffy and Omelet— residents can keep 15 chickens and one rooster, subject to noise ordinances, as well as slaughter the chickens for food. In July, LaBadie wrote in detail of her first killing: she and her husband hung the bird by its legs, slit its throat, plucked its feathers and put it on ice. Then they slow‐cooked it for 20 hours. “It’s not pretty, it’s kinda messy, and it’s a little smelly,” she writes. “But it’s quite real.” Meanwhile, at MadCityChickens.com, the Web site created by the Madison Chicken Underground, chat‐line operator Dennis Harrison‐Noonan has turned his chicken love into a mini‐business: he’s sold 2,000 design kits for his custom‐made playhouse chicken coop, which retails for $35. “It’s really not that crazy to think that people are doing this,” says Owen Taylor, the urban livestock coordinator at Just Food, which operates the New York Chicken Project. “Most of the world keeps chickens, and they’ve been doing so for thousands of years.” Historically, he’s right. During the first and second world wars, the government even encouraged urban farming by way of backyard “Victory Gardens” in an effort to lessen the pressure on the public food supply. (Until 1859, there were 50,000 hogs living in Manhattan, according to Blecha.) “It’s really only been over the last 50 years or so that we’ve gotten the idea that modernity and success and urban spaces don’t involve these productive animals,” Blecha says. There are a host of reasons for the growing trend. “Locavores” hope to avoid the carbon emissions and energy consumption that come with transporting food. Chicken owners and poultry experts say eggs from backyard chickens are tastier and can be more nutritious, with higher levels of supplements like omega‐3 fatty acids. Their production cost is cheap: you can buy chickens for as little as a couple of dollars, and three hens will likely average about two eggs a day. You can also use their waste to help revitalize a garden. “There’ve been recalls on everything from beef to spinach, and I think people want to have peace of mind knowing their food is coming from a very trusted source,” says LaBadie. “As gas prices go up, and people realize how food is connected to oil and transportation, they are bound to realize they can get a higher quality product cheaper if they get it locally.”
Keeping a chicken is relatively easy, too—assuming you don’t get too attached. (That’s a talk Mackin says she had with her kids early: these chickens aren’t pets.) They’ll eat virtually anything—”pork products, string cheese, even Chinese takeout,” she laughs—and they feed on bugs and pests that can ruin a garden. They can withstand harsh weather conditions. (In one oft‐told tale, a Maine woman lost her chicken in a blizzard and found it, a day later, frozen solid with its feet stuck straight in the air. She thawed it and administered CPR. The chicken made a full recovery.) And much like New Yorkers, not much bothers chickens grown in urban environments. “[Those] raised in a really controlled environment like factory farms are very fragile, both physically and emotionally,” says Blecha, who lives in St. Paul, Minn., with her partner and six chickens. “My chickens, I mow the lawn a foot away from them and they don’t even look up from their pecking.” But even urban chickens, who can live more than five years, can die easily: from predators like dogs or possums, catching a cold or sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Once, one of Mackin’s chicks got stuck in a glue trap. She drowned it, to put it out of its misery. “That was really sad,” she says. (Mackin doesn’t name her chickens, for that very reason.) But the overall experience seems to be positive for everyone. “We have people calling weekly to say, ‘This is really cool’,” says Patrick Comfert, a spokesman for Madison’s animal‐services department, where the chicken ban was reversed in 2004. “Chicken people love it, the neighbors don’t care, we have no complaints.” Minneapolis enthusiast Albert Bourgeois sums up the appeal. “Chickens are really fun pets,” he says. His flock is named Cheney, Condi, Dragon, Fannie and Freddie. The next one, he says, will be Obama.
The local foods movement is not only gaining ground, it is here to stay; and that includes family flocks of chickens. Chickens are the mascots of local foods because of the many talents and skill sets they innately bring to small-scale food production. These skill sets include being pesticiders (eating mosquitoes, ticks and fleas), herbiciders (by eating and clearing unwanted vegetation), and organic fertilizer generators (that can help create and enhance garden soil). The trend for backyard flocks is so strong, that in the past two years, over 500 towns and cities have revised their laws to allow urban folks to keep their own chickens. With the reemergence of backyard chickens across the country, there have been tremendous amounts of misconceptions, false beliefs and downright prejudice surrounding the keeping of micro-flocks of chickens. As the co-host of the Chicken Whisperer Backyard Poultry and Sustainable Lifestyles Talk Show, I have heard it all.
There are seven main concerns that routinely surface when the topic of city chicks is discussed. These are: 1. Disease, 2. Noise, 3. Waste, odor and flies, 4. Predators and rodents, 5. Property values, 6. Appearance, and 7. What will neighbors think? Let’s look at the facts behind each of these concerns.
Myth 1. Chickens carry diseases communicable to humans.
Fact: The truth is that small flocks have literally no risk of avian flu transmission to humans. The 2006 Grain Report states: “When it comes to bird flu, diverse small-scale poultry is the solution, not the problem. “Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states on their website: “There is no need at present to remove a (family) flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian flu. “Avian flu has been in the press as a concern to commercial poultry production where birds are raised in monster-size flocks confined in over-crowded environments. This causes high stress and compromised immune systems in the birds. Any sign of disease, including a sneeze, could result in a huge number of birds getting sick; and this puts at risk a large amount of profit. As many experts have stated publicly, the solution to avian flu is in small-scale poultry.
Myth 2. Chickens are too noisy.
Fact: Laying hens—at their loudest—have about the same decibel level as human conversation (60 to 70 decibels). Hens are so quiet that there have been cases of family flocks being kept for years without the next door neighbors knowing it.
To some, noise is a concern with roosters and their pre-dawn heralding of sunrises. Many urban codes ban roosters, or only allow them to be kept with special permits. The noise level of a rooster’s crow is about the same as a barking dog; 90 decibels. But there are ways to keep roosters quiet throughout the night. Many folks regard crowing as a pleasant sound.
Myth 3. Chickens cause waste and odor.
Fact: A 40-pound dog generates more solid waste than 10 chickens. To be more specific, one 40-pound dog generates about .75 pounds of poop every day. Ten chickens generate about .66 pounds daily poop. The advantage to chicken poop is that it can be used as valuable, high-nitrogen fertilizer. Unlike dog or cat poop, chicken poop can be combined with yard and leaf waste to create compost. Just as valuable, about 40% of the chicken manure is organic matter necessary for building fertile, healthy topsoil.
Chicken manure is so valuable that there is a product called Cockadoodle Doo®. What is Cockadoodle Doo made of? You guessed it; dried chicken manure. A 20-pound bag sells for $15. That’s 76 cents a pound for chicken manure! Let’s take the stakes even higher. Where does most commercial fertilizer come from? Think oil. Can chickens’ services and products help us decrease our dependence on oil? Yes, in many ways and on many levels.
Myth 4. Chickens attract predators, pests and rodents.
Fact: Predators and rodents are already living in urban areas. Wild bird feeders, pet food, gardens, fish ponds, bird baths and trash waiting to be collected all attract raccoons, foxes, rodents and flies. Modern micro-flock coops, such as chicken tractors, arks, and other pens are ways of keeping, and managing, family flocks that eliminate concerns about predators, rodents and other pests. Indeed, chickens are part of the solution to pesky problems. Chickens are voracious carnivores and will seek out and eat just about anything that moves including ticks (think Lyme disease), fleas, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, stink bugs, slugs, and even mice, baby rats and small snakes.
Myth 5. Property values will decrease.
Fact: There is not one single documented case that we know of about a next door family flock that has decreased the value of real estate. On the contrary, local foods and living green is so fashionable, that some Realtors and home sellers are offering a free chicken coop with every sale. An example of this at www.GreenWayNews.com.
Myth 6. Coops are ugly.
Fact: Micro-flock coop designs can be totally charming, upscale and even whimsical. Some of them are architect designed and cost thousands of dollars. Common design features include blending in with the local architectural style, matching the slope of the roof and complementing color schemes. For examples go to www.MyPetChicken.com.
Myth 7. What will neighbors think?
Fact: You can’t control what anyone thinks, much less your neighbor. Once folks gain more experience with the advantages and charms of chickens, most prejudice and fear evaporates; especially when you share some of those fresh, heart-healthy, good-for-you eggs from your family flock.
There is one huge advantage to family flocks that is often overlooked during chicken debates. That is their role and value in solid waste management systems. Chickens, as clucking civic workers, are biomass recyclers and can divert tons of organic matter from the trash collection and landfills. Chickens will eat just about all kitchen “waste.” They love people food, even those “gone-by” leftovers that have seasoned in the refrigerator. Combine their manure with grass clippings, fallen leaves and garden waste, and you create compost. Composting with chicken helpers keeps tons of biomass out of municipal trash collection systems. All this can save big time taxpayer dollars, which is especially valuable in these times of stressed municipal budgets.
There is precedence for employing family flocks as part of trash management. It is being done very successfully in some European towns. One example is the town of Deist in Flanders, Belgium. The city buys laying hens to give to residents who want them. The chickens’ job is to divert food waste from the trash stream and eliminates having to be picked up by workers, transported, and then disposed. The savings are significant.
May the flock be with you…and to quote the Chicken: “Evermore.”
[Due to technical difficulties we cannot upload images of a letter from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Please contact us and we can send the images via email.]
[Due to technical difficulties we cannot upload images of letters from two realtors confirming that keeping chickens does not affect property values. Please contact us and we can send the images via email.]
Confirmed by speaking with Christine Mastis’ Office with Prudential Alliance Realtors 636-343-7800
6/5/12 I spoke with a realtor in Christine Mastis’ office. I was told chickens will not affect the property value, nor those around it as long as property is well maintained. Value is affected by nearby foreclosures and home sales within a 3 mile radius.
Our own personal experience follows that owning chickens does not devalue property, nor does it affect the surrounding properties. We purchased our home in January 2008. Later that same year, we had the house reappraised after making repairs and basic improvements. It appraised for $15,000 more than the purchase price in August 2008. We recently refinanced in February 2012. The house held its value through the worst recession since the depression and its value went up by just over $2,000.
Two homes immediately adjacent to ours sold last summer within approximately a month of each other, with one rented out very quickly after repairs were made. Our hens were outside at the time. We even overheard one realtor using the view of our backyard garden and hens to sell the home.
Below are the some of the average home values from communities that allow or prohibit chickens.
|Ballwin, restricted by lot size||$234,214|
|Clayton (at least 17 years)||$591,955|
|Creve Coeur, after three years of banning them||$395,430|
|Ellisville, 4 hens, no roosters||$233,282|
|Eureka, 6 hens by permit||$253,266|
|Fenton, City of, prohibited||$256,165 (includes unincorporated Fenton)|
|Ladue (at least 10 years)||$822,337|
|Maplewood (since 2009)|
|Richmond Heights (since 2012), by permit||$239,391|
|Rock Hill (since 2009)||$178,508|
|Shrewsbury, 5 hens by permit||$174,780|
|St Louis (20+ years), 4 hens without a permit, no roosters||$121,300|
|University City (since 2009)||$218,061|
|Valley Park, being discussed, Bill proposed to allow with restrictions||$182,339|
|Webster Groves (at least 12 years), 8 hens (subject to lot size), permit||$242,187|
From Harvest of the Suburbs (2006) by Andrea Gaynor: “In the 1960s it appears that, as Andrew Brown‐May has suggested, ‘the increasing restriction on the keeping of productive animals was based as much on the abandonment of a perceived outdated rural era in favor of a progressive urban ideology’ as it was on concerns for health or the obviation of nuisances. This ‘urban ideology’ – part of the ‘modern outlook’ – included an element which lauded consumption and disparaged at least some types of production. Margo Huxley has proposed that such ‘by‐laws’ can be seen to support consumerist trends in domestic life by regulating the amount of (non‐horticultural) food production which can be undertaken on suburban blocks’, but they can also be seen as participating in the creation of those trends. (ed – emphasis mine.) In other words, the exclusion of productive animals from residential areas was one way in which various state instrumetalities – generally operated by middle‐class technocrats – sought to produce clean, modern communities people with cosmopolitan commuters and consumers. Although vegetable gardening and fruit production remained acceptable suburban pastimes, in the ideal modern suburb, the whine of the Victa motor mower would no longer have to compete with cuckling and cackling…”
About two years ago, not long after the birth of our youngest son, my husband and I started looking into the possibility for adding hens to our family; both as pets for our young sons, and to have the eggs and help with our backyard pests. We made our decision based on the pieces we had seen in numerous newspapers, in the news, on PBS and online that they make wonderful pets for young families. The other benefit that we could not ignore was that they help with backyard pests, provide organic and safe fertilizer for our garden and help our family become more self-sufficient (with the poor growth economy and rise in food and overall cost of living). Last summer we built a 6′ x 6′ square foot coop with a temporary run and purchased our pullets from the Fenton Feed Store. We instantly became enchanted with our young chicks and played with them every day. We knew that they make good pets but we were not aware of just how much they would become a part of the family. As chicks our pullets loved to eat out of our hands (and still do) and be held. We have even had a couple that love to cuddle and will fall asleep in our arms. The benefits to our family and yard have been amazing! We cannot keep our boys away from the hens, nor the hens away from the boys. They always play together out in the yard. In return, the hens give us affection, eat all our table scraps (and with children there are many), provide the garden with fertilizer, help control the weeds and eat many of the harmful pests.
Our chickens are allowed the run of our fenced in yard. Our fence is 4 feet in height. The hens have their wings clipped and do not leave the yard. They have a 6′ x 7′ run under the coop with an adjacent, temporary 4′ x 6′ run that we are making permanent for this winter. Every evening, shortly before sunset, Goldie (our Flock Queen) leads Scarlet, Bonnie, Bertha, Winnie, Dotty, Jet and Aussie into their coop, where they stay until mid-morning the following day. We have also had bantams (miniatures) in the past and are currently raising 4 week old bantams to see which personalities will best fit our family. The other bantams have already been placed in other homes.
This information is provided to Richmond Heights residents who request information about
backyard chicken raising. The below list of resources contains only a few of the abundant and growing offerings available today. Since raising chickens can require a significant financial investment and ongoing time commitments, potential chicken owners should thoroughly research what it will take to keep their chickens safe and healthy.
1. Books for sale. Hundreds of chicken raising books are currently available and new ones
are being published all the time. These are a few to consider:
“City Chicks: Keeping Micro-Flocks of Chickens as Garden Helpers, Compost
Creators, Bio-recyclers and Local Food Suppliers” by Patricia L. Foreman
“Raising Chickens for Dummies” by Willis and Ludlow
“Keep Chickens: Tending small flocks in cities, suburbs and other small spaces” by
“Chickens: Tending a small-scale flock for pleasure and profit” by Sue Weaver
“Chickenology, The Art and Science of Keeping Chickens” by Maplewood/Richmond
Heights school district.
“Chick Days: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Raising chickens from Hatching to
Laying” by Jenna Woginrich
“The Chicken Health Handbook” by Gail Damerow
“Building Chicken Coops For Dummies” by Todd Brock, David Zook and Rob Ludlow
2. Library books. The St. Louis County Public Library has a few backyard
chicken books on hand; they can also obtain books from affiliated libraries in the St Louis
1. The Missouri Extension Service. “Small Flock Series: Managing a Family Chicken Flock”
2. Virginia Tech Extension Service. “Small Scale Poultry Housing”
3. Agriculture.com website http://www.agriculture.com/livestock/poultry/chickens
4. Success with Poultry website blog http://successwithpoultry.blogspot.com/
1. St Louis Community College — Offers a class on backyard chicken raising www.stlcc.edu
2. Missouri Botanical Garden’s Earthways Center — Offers periodic classes on backyard
chicken raising. See the “Green Living” link at www.mobot.org/classes
3. Maplewood Richmond Heights School District — Offers classes once or twice per year.
Call the school district at 314-644-4400.
Tour of Backyard Chicken Coops
Home Eco puts together a tour of backyard chicken coops around St Louis once per year
Local Community Gardens
Gateway Greening http://www.gatewaygreening.org/
Bell Demonstration Community Garden (gardens, chickens, bees)
Locations to Purchase Pet Chicken Supplies
Organizations Promoting Household Chicken Pets
Facebook Pet Chicken Groups
Pintrest St. Louis Post Dispatch Pet Section lists chickens as pets along with dogs and cats
Backyard Chicken Meet Up Groups
Thank you to The Friends of Richmond Heights and Valerie Taylor. Their hard work helped us to put together the documentation to present to our Neighborhood Board of Trustees.