Last night I gave a chicken 101 workshop for the Capital City Organic Gardeners club in Concord, NH.
Concord is running a 21 month probationary program where home owners are allowed to have up to 5 egg laying chickens in their backyard. There are a few restrictions including:
- Single family residences only.
- Lot size may be less than 1 acre.
- The chicken coop must be at least 30 feet from each lot line.
- Coop must be located in side or back yard. Coop cannot be in front yard.
- You can have no more than 5 female chickens.
- No roosters are allowed.
- Chickens cannot be free ranging.
- You cannot sell the eggs or the meat. On site slaughtering is prohibited.
- Chicken manure must be covered by a fully enclosed structure or container. No composting or fertilizing must be removed from property.
While this isn’t a perfect situation, it is certainly a start.
I can, however, see a few problems which could potentially arise. For example, we couldn’t figure out if “on site slaughtering” meant that you couldn’t cull an errant rooster that might have gotten into your flock – some people learned what the term “straight-run” meant last night-, or even if you couldn’t cull an injured or sick bird.
Not something that you want to think about but it’s part of owning chickens.
My other concern is about the chicken manure that must be covered by a fully enclosed structure or container, as we all know chicken poops composts hot. (One of the reasons you don’t muck out the chicken house in the winter is that you want to take advantage of that composting heat.) If all that poop is going into an enclosed container I certainly hope people are diligent about periodically turning it over.
Other than those relatively mild concerns (and, of course, the one big one that if they pull this allowance after 21 months, Concord is going to have a huge chicken problem) it looks like the capital city of New Hampshire is heading in the right direction.
In the workshop I covered the basics: essentially how to get your flock started :
- Reasons to have chickens
- Reasons not to have chickens
- How to get chicks
- How to care for chicks
- Hen houses
There were lots of good questions, these people are serious about getting chickens and taking care of them.
When I was covering chick care which includes putting a heat lamp in the brooder, one young girl who had come with her Dad raised her hand.
Could you use a lava lamp for heat? She asked.
Can honestly say I’ve never been asked that one before. I told her that I didn’t think it was a good heat source but that I’d bet the chicks would have fun watching the bubbles in a lava lamp.
Later on, toward the end of the presentation she again raised her hand and asked me how many birds should you get to begin with and what types would I recommend?
Now here’s a kid who had paid attention for a full hour and one half, who had questions about the information and had no problems at all asking those questions in front of an audience of adults. She’s even an out of the box thinker – I’ll wager that no one else has ever thought to use a lava lamp in a brooder before, maybe it will be the next big advancement in chick care.
Although it was nice to see the adults and listen to their questions, it was that girl that got my attention.
She’s got heart, she’s got spunk. She knows what she wants and she’s going to get it.
Just the kind of smart chick we value as members of our flock.