City of Waukee: Change ordinance to allow the keeping of a small backyard flock of hens
Why Keep Backyard Chickens?
1. You can be a food producer!
The local food movement is flourishing, and by keeping backyard chickens you can take pride in being a food producer and not just a consumer.
2. You know exactly where your eggs come from!
Think of all the recent factory farm egg recalls in the news – gross! When you raise your own eggs and/or meat you know what the animal ate, its living conditions, and how it was treated.
3. You can eat fresh!
Fresh foods simply taste better and eggs are no exception. Combine chicken keeping with a vegetable garden and you’ll never look at store bought eggs & produce the same way.
4. You can fertilize your garden!
Chicken poop is high in nitrogen and great for your compost pile. Give your vegetable garden the nutrient boost it needs.
5. You can practice natural pest control!
Got cockroaches, grubs, or any other pest you don’t want in your yard or garden? Chickens are great at controlling certain pests naturally- no need to put down nasty chemicals. And yes- chickens will even eat mice!
6. You will be entertained!
While chicken keeping may sound like a chore to some, many people see egg collection and putting out feed as a relaxing morning ritual. Also, just like cats and dogs, chickens have personalities and can be great companions.
7. You will make new friends!
An unintended consequence of backyard chicken keeping is meeting new people. Attend a chicken class, participate in a chicken coop tour and get involved with local chicken groups in your area.
8. You will learn something new!
Never been handy with tools? Building your own coop is a great way to learn. Not sure where the chicken egg actually comes out of the bird? You can dazzle your friends with random chicken facts and anatomy. Children also learn much and gain responsibility from the keeping of backyard chickens.
Across the country, urban and suburban areas are allowing small backyard flocks of hens. Major cities allowing hens include New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Baltimore. Des Moines, and West Des Moines are two very close communities that allow the keeping of hens.
Owners of hens prize them as any other pet. Some for their personality, others for their heritage and others for their colors and patterns. Hens, unlike roosters, are friendly, entertaining, and quiet.
Hens are also part of some citizens’ wish to live a “greener” lifestyle. They readily eat table scraps (keeping them from ending up in landfills), are a natural insect control of lawns, and also provide eggs for the family they live with.
Adult hens thrive in a pen that provides a 3-4 square foot dwelling with 10 square feet of run. The small unassuming pen is about the size of a large doghouse.
I would like to allow the children of Waukee the experience of raising hens to demonstrate green living, showing them where their food originated, and the responsibility of caring for this extraordinary animal.
I respectfully request a clarification for poultry livestock, to allow for small flock hens be kept in the yards of the citizens of Waukee.
Below is a model ordinance designed for the Council to consider in either adopting or to use as a starting point when deciding whether to allow hens in the city and how to regulate them:
Purpose. The following regulations will govern the keeping of chickens and are designed to prevent nuisances and prevent conditions that are unsanitary or unsafe. No person shall keep chickens unless the following
regulations are followed:
a. Number. No more than six (6) hens shall be allowed for each single-family dwelling on land under one (1) acre. No more than thirty (30) hens shall be allowed for each single-family dwelling on land over one (1) acre.
b. Setbacks. Coops or cages housing chickens shall be kept at least twenty-five (25) feet from the door or window of any dwelling or occupied structure other than the owner’s dwelling. Coops and cages shall not be located within five (5) feet of a sideyard lot line, nor within eighteen (18) inches of a rear-yard lot line. Coops and cages shall not be located in the front yard.
c. Enclosure. Hens shall be provided with a covered, predator-proof coop or cage that is well ventilated and designed to be easily accessed for cleaning. The coop shall allow at least two square feet per hen. Hens shall have access to an outdoor enclosure that is adequately fenced to contain the birds on the property and to prevent predators from access to the birds. Hens shall not be allowed out of these enclosures unless a responsible individual, over 18 years of age, is directly monitoring the hens and able to immediately return the hens to the cage or coop if necessary.
d. Sanitation. The coop and outdoor enclosure must be kept in a sanitary condition and free from offensive odors. The coop and outdoor enclosure must be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent the accumulation of waste.
e. Slaughtering. There shall be no outdoor slaughtering of chickens.
f. Roosters. It is unlawful for any person to keep roosters.