Photo credit: Tracy Halladay

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Public Input at Next Planning Commission Meeting

The Brigham City Planning Commission is meeting Tuesday,  March 1st at 6:30pm.  This meeting is open to the public and will be held in the city council chambers (up stairs) at city hall.  I believe in this meeting they will be putting the final touches on the code.  If you would like a peak at the DRAFT of the code please click here: Brigham City Chicken Ordinance DRAFT.  This is a PDF document so you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.

Since there is discussion in this ordinance about the number of chickens limited to the lot size, I thought I'd give you some resources on chicken tractors.  I know that is an odd sounding term, but it is infact the name of chicken housing that is portable.  These can be used in large enterprises and drug around a farm by a ...yes, tractor.  Or they can be small enough and built on wheels that people can keep a few hens in their back yard and give the chickens fresh grass to eat without destroying their lawn.  Just roll the tractor a few feet away each day or two to a new spot of ground and you are good to go.

Two resources (besides googling for images of 'chicken tractors') that I have found for getting an idea of what these devices are like are the following links:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ordinances in Cities Nearby

I post the following link because you may have seen it in the news. 
Riverdale rejects chicken ordinance - ksl.com

One thing to keep in mind, when a city rejects an ordinance defining chickens as being allowed in residential areas some people will still have them...either out of ignorance, or because the existing code does not specifically prohibit them or they go underground and if there are no complaints from neighbors and the city does nothing about it.  I don't advocate doing what is prohibited by your city.  In Brigham City, the current code specified "Domesticated Fowl" under the definition of a pet.  When I first got my chickens I looked at the code and made my decisions so as to be in alignment with how our ordinances were written.

Here is a matrix of Utah communities ordinances to show how cities are stacking up in regard to urban chickens:

Utah Communities Backyard Chicken Ordinances
LaytonYes6NoQuantity depends on lot size
ProvoYes6NoQuantity depends on lot size
Salt Lake CityYes15NoNo lot size restriction
Salt Lake CountyYes8-10NoDepends on residential zoning area.  50 allowed in A-1 agricultural areas
TremontonYesTremonton was rewriting code last year to allow chickens in all residential neighborhoods.  I have not seen the written code yet.
Woods CrossYes8NoQuantity depends on lot size

Just added:
Spanish Fork    Yes           6           No                Quantity depends on lot size

If you would like to download the specific codes that I have please click here.  You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the downloaded document.

If you have specific codes for other utah communities, I would love to have a copy.  Please contact me and I will add them to the list.

Photo Credit: Tracy Halladay

Monday, February 7, 2011

Housing Your Chickens

I thought I'd write a little about how to house your chickens.  Chickens don't require much and can take up very little space.  Plus, their house and run can be made to compliment your yard.  There are a few things that your chickens need to be happy and healthy.  Below are guidelines, you can find more specifics online.  check out the resources on the right side of this page.
  1. Hen house- an enclosed area with roosts where your chickens sleep. - Minimum 2 square feet per bird.  Most of the chicken droppings happen at night so be careful not to put roosts above and below each other.
  2. Nest boxes- Usually inside the hen house or built on the adjacent to the hen house with access from the outside. - about 18 square inches per bird, one box for every 3 birds (They'll share)
  3. Run- this is the play area where the chickens spend time while they are awake. - at least 5 square feet per bird
These structures should be made to fit where you live.  In Utah, we get quite a bit of snow in winter and some wind.  We want to protect the hens from that.  Some areas have preditors that dig and can get into the chickens by digging under the sides of the structure.

I'll be the first to admit that I am not very skilled at building things.  The first structure I built was a mobile "Chicken Tractor".  A Chicken Tractor is a coop/run combo that can be moved around the yard or garden. This 'A' frame coop had a house and nest boxes in one end and the run in the other.  It was 8 feet long by 4 feet wide.  The hen house was 3 feet long and the run 5 feet.  The chickens were happy and comfortable.  If you feel uneasy building something yourself you can find sources online for similar structures.  One site that was recently recommended to me is http://www.thelittlechickenfactory.com/.  Their tractors look lightweight, easy to move and well built.

I made my tractor out of scrap wood and it lasted about 3 years until I decided I wanted something a little better looking in my yard.  Again, I have virtually no skills in carpentry so I wanted something easy and inexpensive.  I saw many hen houses online that looked like a childs play house.  I thought that looked nice in the yard.  One spring I ran into a play house kit at Lowes.  I showed my wife and she agreed it was attractive.  The price was more than I was ready to spend so I kept looking.  Later that fall we stumbled on it again at Lowes and it was on closeout for $75.  I couldn't buy the materials for that price!  We took the kit home and I built it and painted it.  On the left and right sides the walls have windows...I turned one wall upside down when building it and that window became a door for the chickens to enter their run.

I converted the 'A' frame tractor I built into a run and butted it up against the side of the newly built hen house and now my hens had more space and I had a hen house which was easier to clean AND it was better looking in my back yard.  The chickens don't need much headroom so they were plenty happy.  Now to clean the run, all I did was tip it up on its end away from the hen house and shovel out whatever there was and dump it in my compost. 

The aging 'A' frame was not holding up after 3 years of use and I decided I really wante a run large enough for me to stand in.  This would make run cleaning easier and would improve the yard look another notch.  So I began scouring the internet looking for ideas.  I took my family and we attended Salt Lake City's Tour De Coops in the spring.  This is a self guided tour that you take and visit yards of fellow chicken owners in Salt lake City.  Yes, Salt lake City allows chickens.  Their ordinance is quite liberal as well!  We saw many beautiful chicken houses and had a great day.  Now, at this point I decided to solicit the help of my best friend who spent many years as a carpenter and home builder.  I drew out on paper roughly what I wanted to build and we took a shopping trip to Home Depot.  We built it in about one afternoon.  It ran about $200 for the materials.

The options are endless and you can do something that fits your yard and what you want to accomplish.

Here is a list of housing resources that may be of interest to you:
http://www.omlet.co.uk/ (Great Britain)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Planning Commission Meeting

The Brigham City Planning Commission met last night (2/1/2011) and had its first public comment discussion on a city ordinance to specifically allow chickens within residential zoning.  My son and I were the only public who attended.

The commission had reviewed many city ordinances from cities along the Wasatch front who allow chickens and are taking the codes to build their own ordinance.  They spent most of the time going through each section coming up with wording that was agreeable to all.  They will hold an additional public comment meeting on March 1st.

Commissioner Larry Jensen was the only one to say he was opposed to an ordinance.  He said he feels they are farm animals and should not be allowed in the city. 

Items in the ordinance will be:
  • Quantity of chickens (hens only) dependant on lot size
  • size of coop
  • set back from property line
  • upkeep
  • registration (per household not per hen...once every 2 years)

This is a step in the right direction to protect the city and those who have chickens. 

I would like to see other chicken owners get involved in the public discussion to provide constructive input.  Some things that people may not understand are:
  • Chickens are quieter than dogs
  • they don't roam the neighborhood like cats
  • they require very little room for habitation
  • they are inexpensive to feed and care for.
  • they are domesticated animals (Gallus domesticus)
  • they have been domesticated for about 8000 years (see Barbara West, Ben-Xiong Zhou, Did chickens go North? New evidence for domestication, Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 15, Issue 5, September 1988, Pages 515-533, ISSN 0305-4403, DOI: 10.1016/0305-4403(88)90080-5.
  • receiving eggs or meat from chickens is a good lesson for families to understand where their food comes from and what is required to provide it.
  • historically families had chickens (often known as yardbirds) to provide for needs of the family.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Welcome to the BrighamCityChickens Blog!

This blog is being made to provide information to residents of Brigham City, Utah about having chickens as pets and raising them for eggs. I hope many other people become involved in posting comments and providing information that is beneficial.

The best thing we can do is provide a good experience so our friends and neighbors can see that chickens are indeed pets, they are quiet, and they are clean.