Monday, April 16, 2012

Chickens in the Suburbs

I haven't posted very much the last week because I have been living a whirlwind.  I have a lot to catch up on, but wanted to briefly mention that I just walked in the door from the Summerside City Council meeting where my permit application for four laying hens was approved! (See previous posts here and here.)  I am so excited and feeling so positive about the support that our city has shown for our community garden initiative and my laying hen application.

I know that each municipality will have different application requirements, but I thought that by posting my final application letter, it might give other hopeful chicken aficionados at least a starting point for information to include.  So here is the body of the letter that I wrote:

Further to our conversation on February 8th, 2012, I am submitting my formal application for a permit to house four pet laying hens in our backyard, which is within city limits.  I have obtained the signatures of residents in the twelve houses that are within 200 feet of our property, and include these signatures on the appropriate form with this application.  For those residents with further questions, I addressed their questions and/or concerns while speaking to them and gave them an informational handout that addresses the most common questions about backyard laying hens (a copy of this handout is also included in this application).

These hens will be considered family pets, not livestock, and will be kept for enjoyment, eggs, and as a way to educate our children on the responsibility of raising animals and the knowledge of how and where we get our food.  We are concerned about the inhumane conditions that industrial laying hens are exposed to and, while we do enjoy eating eggs, we prefer to get our eggs from hens that are happy and allowed to live comfortable, natural lives.  We will make an effort to ensure that the hens are docile, gentle animals, and we will treat them with the respect that any pet or living creature deserves.

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 am applying only to have female laying hens, and as there will be no rooster, there will be almost no noise associated with these chickens.  I have decided upon a coop plan, and will connect the secure, warm, and safe coop to a fenced-in outdoor pen that will allow the hens to safely and conveniently make use of the outdoors for exercise and feeding.  The pen will have wire on all sides, including the top, to keep out avian predators.   This pen will most closely resemble a modified dog run.  I have attached a copy of the chicken coop plan with this application; the pen will be planned more in detail when the coop is built and the site is further assessed in the spring for how to best go ahead with construction.

Waste litter from the chicken coop will be composted on our property in the bottom corner of our yard where it is protected by shrubs and trees and is at the point furthest from all surrounding houses.  It will contain yard waste such as fallen leaves and twigs, and be managed properly (turned and aerated regularly) so should not produce any offensive odors.  The chickens’ feed will be kept indoors so as not to attract any unwanted pests.

I have good relations with my surrounding neighbours and plan, if this application is successful, to deliver fresh eggs a few times a year to the households immediately adjacent to our property and offer rich 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 understand that a city official will visit our property to take photos of the backyard and the location where the chicken coop is to be constructed, and will inspect the property at that time.

I trust that I have addressed the questions and conditions associated with this application, and I hope to hear from you soon in this regard.  Thank you very much for considering my application.

I can't wait to post the pictures of our coop and newly acquired ladies!  In the meantime, send me your best chicken care tips; I have lots to learn!


  1. So glad you finally got approval! Time to build that coop and get those chickies!

  2. So exciting!!!! I'm so so happy for you! It will be a busy spring with the hens and the garden both underway!

  3. That is exciting to here of your approval! Can't wait to here of all that has went on!

  4. Congratulations! Very good work.

  5. Congratulations for getting approval. I believe every town/city should allow backyard chickens.
    Chickens are so easy to keep. Are you getting chicks or layers?

    1. I haven't yet decided. I think I'd like to get pullets or layers because I'm not sure with an inquisitive 3-year-old and our wildly stubborn 14-month-old that inside our home would be the best place to keep chicks at this point. And I don't currently have the materials like a heating lamp etc. that I would need to properly keep them warm outside. We'll see as it goes on, but I am hoping I'll be able to get older pullets. :)

  6. I am so excited for you. I'm a new blog follower and own six girls in our backyard run. My best advice is to get a copy of Storey's Guide To Raising Chickens as it's our chicken bible around here and we refer to it often. Other than that it's all about predator proofing. Hardwire cloth, not chicken wire! Feel free to check out my blog for pictures of our setup.

  7. Really helpful, thank you! I too have been considering having my own chickens but am within city limits, this is a really helpful insight to what would be involved with that.


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