Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chicken Update

I've been rather absent the last few days because it was a crazy week for us, with my husband away, planning for birthday celebrations for our boy, going to meetings for the community garden, and taking care of some other responsibilities.  But I'm back, with a quick update on the chicken front.

I am really hoping to get my application in this week.  I left it for a few weeks after first meeting with our police chief but as spring approaches, I want to take care of the paperwork and red tape and start figuring out where I am going to get my hens.

As I mentioned in my previous post about the chickens, I need to get the signature of every neighbour within 200 feet of our home.  I was worried that this would be difficult, because there has only ever been one other applicant so it isn't as though this is something that suburban residents are regularly requested to give their opinion on.  However, it has been immensely easier than I thought.  Almost everyone has been very positive about it, with one woman living nearby thrilled and actually asked if she could have eggs, another man told me that I could keep a cow in my backyard if I liked and he'd support it, and someone else said that as she grew up in the country she loves the thought of chickens living up the street.  The two homes where the owners were a little leery came around very quickly when I respectfully addressed their concerns, answered their questions, and gave them a modified version of this great handout from Little House in the Suburbs.  I just have one more signature to get, which is proving to be the hardest as I have now gone to this house five times without once catching the owner at home.  But I'm almost there!

I also have to submit a plan of the chicken coop that I hope to build and I have settled on this one:

I got this free hen house design from Purina, and the link to the handy pdf with a materials list and more details regarding building is here.  A great resource is; this is where I found the link to this design and a whole thread on the message board with comments, changes and modifications made to this plan, and photos of the end results of different chicken aficionados.  Since the chickens have to be contained for my permit application, I'm hoping to put this in some sort of modified outdoor kennel type enclosure with wire on top, so that they can come out, peck and scratch around, and go in at their own leisure without getting loose or being at the mercy of the neighbourhood foxes.

I haven't yet typed up the formal letter of application, but the chief told me I can pretty much just doctor up the original email I sent him:

Good afternoon Chief _______,

I am getting in touch to ask about the possibility of applying for a permit for 3-4 backyard laying hens within city limits.  A few months ago I contacted City Hall and police services and was instructed to contact you directly regarding this request.  I put it off for a little while as I feel sure that you have more pressing issues to attend to, and that my request to apply for this permit would fall pretty low on the priority list.  As it gets closer to spring, however, I wanted to make sure to get in touch with you in plenty of time for this spring season when I hope to obtain the hens.

I live in the ____________ subdivision in Ward 8 (Wilmot), and would like to build an attractive and secure coop in my backyard behind my shed where the chickens would be out of sight and protected by trees and shrubs.  I have no desire at all for a rooster, so there would be very little noise to be heard by the neighbours.  I have good relations with my surrounding neighbours and plan, if all goes well, to deliver fresh eggs a few times a year to the households immediately adjacent to our property and offer compost to those who garden in order to keep up a friendly and positive outlook regarding the hens.  We currently do not own any other pets.

I am not sure whether or not I obtain the permit application from you directly or if you have to help me apply, but I wanted to make sure to be above board in this pursuit and I really hope that you will be able to help me and that City Council will approve my request.

If you could please advise me as to which steps I need to take from here, I would very much appreciate it.  Thank you for your time, and for any help you can give me in this regard.  Sincerely,

Rosalyn  ______________

I'll play around with that tomorrow perhaps.  So I think that will cover the paperwork needed on my behalf, and I'll have to wait for city officials to do their inspection of our property.  I plan on putting the compost pile, as I mentioned in this post (where I coloured with crayons), in the back corner of our property hidden in the shrubs.  I don't think it will bother anyone there at all.

I've already started getting excited about my hens, and I want to have three.  I'm considering getting one each of three different breeds, because I think they'd look pretty in their feathered diversity, depending on whether they are all locally available:

Barred rock: has been my favourite since I lived with them in Costa Rica

Buff Orpington: who could resist this lovely strawberry blond?

Rhode Island red: perhaps not quite as lovely as the other two in looks, but a pretty colour nonetheless and a great layer!
I'm hoping that I can have an update soon with a picture of my permit! 


  1. Love that coop plan! I'm excited for you to get your permit!! Getting a variety of hens is an awesome idea, my suggestion is that you try to get them all as pullets (not yet fully feathered) of the same age, and introduce them all at the same time, I know from experience that hens can be quite nasty with their pecking order, and you don't want to have to segregate your girls!

  2. We have all 3 of those kind! We also have some other breeds but our families favorite is a Faverolle - she looks fluffier, lays beautiful creamy colored eggs and has a very sweet disposition! Brahma's are sweet & pretty too! I have to say that even though we have 5 RI Reds they are not my favorite - we will end up eating them soon...
    Great progress you are making!

  3. I'm looking forward to tasty eggs. And helping paint the chicken coop!

  4. I have been looking for a simple plan, thanks so much for posting!

  5. Our town does not allow us to have chickens. My thought has been that if my neighbors don't mind, why should the borough mind. I think it's great that your community at least gives you the opportunity to have them if your neighbors are ok with it.

  6. Tamsyn, I'm really excited too! I feel we need another get together very soon to talk chickens.

    Olivia, I found someone local who raises Faverolles and they sounds lovely. Are they bantams or standard size chickens?

    Bec, you are definitely recruited to paint. xoxo

    Clint, when I was looking online for free coop plans, I found it was really difficult to find anything good until I came up with this one so glad I could help point you to it too!

    Susan, I am really lucky that our city at least allows us to apply. I'm only the second application ever, and the first man already had chickens before he actually submitted his application so we'll see if they respond positively and grant the permit. I'm hoping that with the signatures of all my neighbours, it will go smoothly and I'll be able to pick up the chickens later this spring!

  7. The update for this update:
    I got all my signatures, wrote up (I think) a doozy of an application letter, submitted those with a copy of this coop and a copy of the handout, and I heard back from the Chief that he's HOPING it will be heard at the Police Committee meeting on April 3rd. He can't guarantee that they'll have time for it on the agenda at that meeting, but he will try to get it heard. Yay! And, I am going to hook up with a local chicken breeder to talk all things chicken. Can't wait!

  8. I hope you can get approval! Chickens are awesome. We started with 2 in the city. The next year, we got 3 more. This year we live in a rural area & just got 16 chicks. I love 'em!

    We have a barred rock (1yr old) <3 her! She's sweet. We also have a RI Red (1 yr old). She's on the top of the pecking order. I don't think I'll ever get another, she pecks our entire family, especially my 8yr old daughter. We have an Aracuana- a sweetheart, but protects well. We had a Red Sex Link -also sweet.

    Good luck!

    1. I have heard from a few others that the RI Reds aren't exactly the most sweet-tempered of chickens. I'm open to different breeds so any suggestions would be welcome! I do love barred rocks, but I don't really personally know any others. :) The police committee meeting was tonight so now I just have to wait until it is presented to council. Keeping my fingers crossed!


I love to get comments and questions, and particularly suggestions!