May. 22nd, 2013

potato_head: (8D)
So, voting on backyard chickens in our town was today! The situation was: previously, you could only have chickens if you had at least 3 acres, and even then it was only one hen per acre, which was obvs ridiculous (well, it was an extension of a previously somewhat hastily-composed law that applied those rules to all 'livestock' animals and there had been no differentiation made for chickens). So tonight was voting on an amendment that would allow up to 6 hens on any one-family property and people at 3 acres or more could keep 3 hens per acre.

It passed :D with one amendment - proposed by a guy I knew from high school, actually - to also include two-family properties (i.e. townhouses) as long as the chicken owner is also the property owner/landlord. Which, uh, makes sense, because I'm pretty sure his family is already keeping chickens at their townhouse (turns out there are a lot of illegal chicken owners in the town, LOL...a lot of their neighbors came up to speak in support of chickens and talk about how said chickens hadn't bothered them in the least, without naming names). The restrictions (aside from only 6 hens) are that the coop can be max 6 ft in height, and must be at least 40 feet from other peoples' residences. So we'll have to be careful about that - since where we're planning to put the coop now is right up against the fence of our most obnoxious neighbor (thus why we couldn't just go ahead with coop plans before making sure chickens were legal) - it's probably far enough but we'll have to make sure.

Not that I'm honestly all that afraid of her calling the cops (or whoever handles these kinds of issues? CHICKEN COPS) on us, because she's more the kind of 'annoying neighbor' who complains endlessly to us about our yard without ever actually doing anything about it, and then builds her fence on our property (her crappy, terrible lattice fence that fell down within half a year - which she then blamed on bro and sis - because otherwise her flimsy stapled-together fence would have held up, obviously).

So speaking of coops, we're probably going to do something along the lines of this, this, and this. Definite features include stone (probably cinder block) 'foundation', slight slant to the inside coop floor to make washing out easier, and gap at the front of the nest boxes for the same reason (covered by board the rest of the time), all of which you can see in detail in the first coop design ifff you are curious. We'll probably also be putting lattice to sandwich in sheets of plastic as depicted in the first design as well, to keep some snow out of the run during the winter, break the wind, etc. From what I'm reading (one nest box for every 3 hens?) 3 nest boxes should be enough (between 6 hens, erring on the side of more boxes if we can fit them to prevent, IDK, fighting over nest boxes? Does that happen?)

We are also going to have supervised free-ranging time pretty much every day, but right now what we're thinking of doing for that is a temporary fence - basically chicken wire strung on stakes that we can pull up and put away in the winter when they won't be free-ranging, and during times when we're having a lot of people outside (cookout or etc.) to get it out of the way. And another bonus is that if we want the chickens in another area for some reason, we can move the fence over there in whatever shape we need it to be and then just plunk them down in it. CHICKEN PLAYPEN.

Since this will be more of a 'half-height' fence (like uh, 4ft? Am I estimating that right?) will we need to clip their wings to keep them from flying over the top? I'm kind of thinking as long as none of them are too 'flighty' it won't really be a problem? But on the other hand I don't want to end up chasing chickens around the yard...


Also, I am now ranking the chicken breed list, with #1 being the most preferable for us, keeping in mind that our main concern is egg production and we would prefer not to wire the coop for light during the winter, and we can't legally keep a rooster (nor does Mom want one) so we would prefer hens that aren't broody.

  1. Speckled Sussex - great personality (clever & very people-friendly), great layers through the winter (good reports from people raising them as far north as Alaska), not flighty
  2. Australorp - great personality, great layers of nice big eggs even through the winter
  3. Plymouth Rock - good personality (clever birds), great layers and winter hardy, almost never broody; also, barred is the only variety of any chicken that Mom does not think is incredibly ugly, but is the only variation that I hate, so we might end up with one barred and one of the prettier colors
  4. Easter Egger - not prone to frostbite, very friendly, lay pretty eggs; also, [profile] dakfire finds them very nice to look at and might die if we don't get one (Ameraucanas not acceptable substitute, probably more expensive and hard to find anyways, difficult personality)
  5. Chantecler - lay steady through winter, but not the best layers apparently; also, probably difficult to find in the color I want (partridge - I am not interested in white chickens) and apparently sometimes a bit bigoted towards other chicken breeds
  6. Rhode Island Red - great layers and almost never broody, but can be unfriendly to people and bully other hens
  7. Wyandotte - pretty, good layers, cold-hardy; but can be unfriendly towards people and somewhat mean to other hens, as well as occasionally broody
  8. Welsummer - winter-hardy and very pretty, but are middling layers, not the most people-friendly, and tend to go broody

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