Bring Backyard Chickens to Kingsville

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During these unprecedented times, it seems more important than ever for the residents of Kingsville, Ontario to be self sufficient. It is time we get back to our roots and learn to cultivate our own food. Several other cities and towns have followed suit, and made changes to their bylaws to allow for backyard chickens. 

What are backyard chickens? Backyard chickens are pets who provide organic eggs. Chickens can lay up to 300 eggs per year once they've reached laying age (roughly 20 weeks). These eggs without fertilization from a rooster become the eggs you eat for breakfast every day. Backyard chickens are female, around 2-4 lbs and extremely social, playful pets. They each have a unique personality and are generally very friendly. 

What do I need to care for a backyard chicken? These hens are easy to care for with a little basic education. Backyard chickens require a coop to sleep in. Chickens each need 2-3 square feet inside the coop. A chicken run is a penned outside area attached to the coop where they enjoy hanging out on cold or rainy days. This should be 8-10 square feet per chicken. Chickens always need access to fresh water, they eat a small portion of feed, but love to forage for ticks, fleas, etc in your yard. A nesting box (where they lay) should be a 12" cube and 3 chickens are happy to share a box. Chickens also need access to a place where they can dust bathe to clean themselves. A small sandbox or a hole they dig can provide this.

What are some pros to having urban chickens? Cost savings are a big plus for people considering raising hens. An ISA Brown can lay one organic egg per day. 6 hens could therefore potentially produce well over 2,000 eggs in a year. That can save a family 183 cartons of eggs per year. At roughly $3.00 per carton that is a cost savings of nearly $550 per year! Other pros you have never thought of include: Fertilizer! Chicken poop makes fantastic fertilizer for your garden. Compost! Chickens naturally churn your compost. Pest Control! Chickens eat ticks, other bugs and weeds. No pesticides needed. Companionship! Mayor Goodway was on to something in Paw Patrol. Chickens make great pets. Most importantly, these chickens are happy. Far happier than the chickens providing eggs from factory farms in the egg industry. 

Okay so what are some of the cons? Some breeds cluck more than others, so it's important to do research being buying. However, chickens are quite quiet animals. The cock-a-doodle-doo you are thinking of come from roosters, not chickens. Chickens poop, just like any other pet. But the good news is that instead of scooping to the trash like a litter box, it truly is a great fertilizer. Like any other pet, it's important to keep your chicken in good health. This may require a visit to the veterinarian, so money should be set aside for such circumstances as you would with a cat or dog. Chickens are social, so you best not have just one. Here is the big one: salmonella. Salmonella is a bacteria in chicken feces that causes infection in humans. Safe practices are to wash your hands after handling a chicken (something we are all pros at by now) and to not eat your eggs raw. That's it! 

So why should you sign this petition? We are hoping to follow the lead of cities like Toronto and Vancouver, as well as smaller municipalities like Tecumseh, Kingston, Brampton and Niagara Falls in bringing a self sufficiency to residents. Let's get in line with the times and allow these great backyard pets! 

Fine print: What we are proposing to council is for backyard chickens to be allowed in residential homes, not apartments or condo dwellings. We are asking for the number of hens not to exceed 6, for a restriction banning roosters and for all coops to be a minimum of 15' from any neighbouring homes and fencelines. We are suggesting an annual permit issued by the town for either free or a small fee. 

*photo credit: Organic Valley