Tonight was my first city counsel meeting. I gave each member of Counsel and the Mayor a copy of this:
Suggested Ownership Guidelines
- Lower tonnage to landfill- weeds, grass clippings, hedge clippings, food scraps, paper, etc. All can be used as food or bedding and composted.
- Less chemical run-off- cleaner sewer system
- Potential publicity- There seems to be a story every week on the news or in the paper about chicken ownership in Pittsburgh.
- Increased funds- Some cities require a permit to raise chickens.
- Happy residents who appreciate the cities actions to encourage a “greener” lifestyle
- Limit of 4 hens
- No roosters
- No disturbance- odors to neighbors property, excessive noise
- Coop and run area must be clean and well-kept
- Secure containment- Chickens must be kept in, and predators kept out. Food and bedding must also be contained in a rodent-proof container.
- Coop set-back 20 feet from doors and windows of neighbors homes.
The cost of food has risen dramatically, including the cost of high‐quality protein‐rich nutrient‐dense food such as pastured eggs. Pastured organic eggs cost $4 a dozen. In comparison, four or five backyard hens will require a total of about $60 in feed each year and lay about 120 dozen eggs between them, depending on breed and age. That’s a savings of over $400 a year. In addition, an egg provides about 7 grams of protein, which means those 120 dozen eggs - obtained at a cost of $60 per year ‐ will supply the complete protein needs of the average woman. The ability to raise some of your own food can help provide a greater sense of security in insecure times.
Chicken keeping offers suburban children the opportunity to learn where their food really comes from and about healthy, sustainable, nutritious food. They will see first hand how kitchen scraps become garden fertilizer which in turn produces beautiful vegetables. Instead of simply hearing, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” they will actually experience it. Suburban kids can participate in 4H or FFA programs through keeping chickens in a suburban yard.
Many governments are asking community members to prepare for emergencies, whatever the cause. Backyard chickens provide a constant stream of fresh eggs without regard to the availability of electricity or refrigeration. Backyard hens will help our community be more food self‐sufficient under any circumstances.
The average chicken keeper is also a gardener, and (unlike the feces of dogs and cats, which carry pathogens and should not be composted) chicken droppings represent an excellent source of free organic fertilizer when composted. Gardeners using commercial organic fertilizers are very likely to be using chicken‐manure based products.
Chickens reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides by eating bugs and weeds. By their very presence, chickens discourage the use of chemical lawn and garden sprays by their owners. Chicken keeping is likely to represent a net improvement in water and runoff issues rather than the opposite. Issues of manure runoff from egg‐producing chickens are associated with huge factory‐style egg farms that generate tons of manure each day in a very concentrated area.
Grass clippings, hedge clippings, dry fall leaves, wood shavings, pine needles, coffee grounds, news paper and shredded paper can be used as bedding and composted. Chicken compost and manure is often found on craigslist for sale. Straw and hay can also be purchased for use as bedding, but this seems like an excellent opportunity to lessen garbage for neighbors also.
Increasing numbers of us are interested in living more sustainably, and many communities are encouraging citizens to reduce waste and consumption of resources. Backyard chickens allow us to reduce our carbon footprint by producing some of our own food. Every food item we can produce organically and on our own property is one less item that must be shipped to us and shopped for. Every item of food we raise ourselves represents a step in living a greener, more sustainable, lifestyle.
People who have backyard chickens are less likely to use chemicals and pesticides in their yards and gardens because it’s healthier for their chickens. In return the chickens eat weeds and bugs that normally plague unsprayed yards. Composted chicken manure is one of the most efficient natural fertilizers and is provided for free with no need for transport. Backyard chickens eat grass clippings which might otherwise end up in the landfills and food scraps which might end up in the garbage and sewage.
The occasional clucking of hens is generally not audible beyond 25 feet. Some hens give a few squawks while actually laying an egg or bragging about it afterward, but this noise is from inside the coop and very short‐lived and much quieter than barking dogs, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, passing trucks, children playing, and other common neighborhood sounds. Roosters are the noisy ones who crow. They are not necessary for hens to lay eggs.
Chickens themselves do not smell. Any possible odor would come from their droppings, but 5 hens generate less manure than one medium‐sized dog (.2 ‐ .3 pound of droppings per day, as compared to the average dog which produces 1 pound, according to the National Pet Alliance.) Chicken droppings are inherently smaller than that from larger animals, which allows them to dry out sooner. Proper bedding dries it out sooner also. Dry droppings smell less.
Unsanitary conditions can result in a buildup of ammonia in large‐scale operations, which is why commercial poultry facilities often smell. This is not the case for small backyard flocks.
Most often, dogs socialized with chickens pose them no threat. But it is not uncommon for a small flock of chickens too be lost to a dog. Cats and hawks pose little threat to adult chickens and show little interest in them. Raccoons and opossums would love to get their paws on chickens and their eggs. This is one reason why chickens must be securely contained.
Wild bird feeders are more of a draw to rodents than having chickens. Chickens should be fed within their enclosed area, where rodents can’t access. It is also wise to feed early so no food remains at night. Overall, chickens help keep the area clean from what would have otherwise been an attraction for mice and rats.
This is basically what I said in my presentation:
Hi, I’m Desiree Snyder and I am here to discuss backyard chicken ownership. You may remember, a couple of weeks ago I dropped off a packet for each of you at City Hall. I have a few more sheets of information for you today.
Owning a small flock of 3-5 hens, with no roosters, in a city environment is becoming increasingly popular. It seems that every week or so, there is a positive story about this in Pittsburgh.
That’s because chickens can be friendly, beautiful pets, who eat bugs, weeds, and other yard waste, along with provide eggs and fertilizer. This also creates an opportunity for children to learn about where food really comes from, not just the grocery store.
A flock of this size is less noticeable to neighbors than a medium size dog. Hens are quiet, roosters are the ones who crow, they typically go around with quiet clucking. They will let out some squocks from inside their coop when they have laid an egg. (Which also doesn’t require a rooster.) A flock of this size takes about as much work to maintain as owning a cat and creates less waste than most dogs.
Their homes are similar in size to a dog house. Which are often mobile, so the owner can give them new areas to clean up every few days.
I myself used to be a critic, but after learning the benefits, I’ve obviously changed my mind. I would love to answer any questions you may have, and I ask that you please consider my request to allow a few chickens within city limits.
And also provided these pics.
They were clearly impressed with my information and presentation. They talked about it privately ahead of time. Impressed by my presentation, they expressed their consern, but insisted that I persue this. They are worried that our already overworked Code Enforcement staff of 2 will get even more work because of this. The City Solicitor suggested I take this to the Planning Commission. I think that if I get them to say its a good idea, I'm in.
He mentioned that "Mr. Bruni" is in charge of this. I am quite sure that I know the right "Mr. Bruni" one way or another, and just dont know that he is on the Planning Commission. I'll explain why I think this works for me. One Bruni works in the office as an attorney where my dad worked for 17 years and still calls me "sweetheart". His nephew bought his house from my family 2 years ago, 2 houses away from me, next door to my mothers house. This younger Bruni has 2 brothers, who I dont think are it, I have a feeling it's his father. So I am going to bug the neighbor and see who it is thats in charge of this.
So now I have a slight problem. I am going away to Vegas next week. The Planning Commission Meeting is always the week after the City Counsel. So unless I can sweet talk them into discussing this without me there, I have to wait a whole month, and not make it back to Counsel until September at the earliest! But sweet talk can be my forte sometimes. I actually think my husband is a little suprised that I didnt just get them to say ok to anything I wanted right away.
It finally occured to me how to find out which "Bruni" it is, without trying to stock my neighbor to find out. Obviously the city didnt have it listed, and google "New Kensington Planning Commission" turned up with nothing. Add the name "Bruni" to that, and I got lots of news paper articles listing Richard Bruni! Yeay! He's the one whom I know the best, the attorney who used to work with my dad. (Which by the way, I used to work there too as my dad's secretary so I saw him every day too for a couple of years.) He sounded so happy that I called
Once I told him why I called, he said "You know this isnt someting that is going to get done in a day, or a week.... or probably even a month?" I said I know, there are websites where people talk about doing this, and it takes years for some. So he said to talk to the City Engineer's Office to get on the agenda for the Planning Commission Meeting to talk to them about ammending code. (Do this at the very least 10 days before the meeting.) He said they put extra weight on the opinions of the Code Enforcement Officer, Solicitor (which he said isnt the City Solicitor who told me to go to the Planning Commission), and the Engineer.
Now I gotta get together 5 more packets. They are going to be twice the size this time, because I want to get them caught up on everything plus add new info that applies. As before, I am going to go thru and hilite the important stuff, and this time, I think I will break it up into sections with dividers.