I'm concerned and heavily sighing - some advice? (esp from 'outlaws')

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by LoveFeathers, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. LoveFeathers

    LoveFeathers Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey guys! So I have done a lot of research on BYC - though I plan to do MUCH more before even thinking about going ahead - and unfortunately I found that they are illegal in my city. I live in Mississauga, a suburban area. We have a large backyard and have figured we can section off up to a 7' X 4' (roughly, no exact measurements yet) for a coop and a run. We only plan on having 2-3 chickens. During the day (as long as someone is home) they will be allowed to free range in the backyard - except when we let the dogs out. Both dogs are used to and great with birds but instincts can be brought out despite that so I would never risk it. '

    I would like to hatch and raise the chickens from eggs. I have an area in the house, a heat lamp, and a cage. I have built incubators for reptiles in the past so I'm not worried about that. I have even narrowed down the breeds I would like to choose from. My last preliminary step before continuing my research was to check the legal status in my city. They're not legal.

    I have sent a letter to the mayor and hope with persistence a change can be made. However, I now have a dilemma.
    I do not want to risk the well-being of an animal by breaking the law in order to keep it. What happens if you get caught with illegal backyard chickens? What if I start out with just one and see how that goes before adding to the flock? I worry about a single hen being lonely, however. I could keep it inside with me much of the time but I feel they need same-species companionship. What are the thoughts on this?

    Sorry, I went off on a tangent. On to the real topic - for those who keep their chickens illegally, what are your circumstances? How do you keep them hidden from neighbours? Our yard is pretty covered in that the fences are dotted with thick bushes for privacy, but I'm sure eventually they'd catch a peek or hear one. My neighbours are both nice people and there is no bad blood between us, but I don't know them that well.

    I would really like to go ahead with this anyway and work on changing the law, even if that means just having one chicken (two if one would be too lonely, as I assume it would) in the meantime. Any thoughts, advice, and experiences would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I would strongly advise against keeping just one. They are very social creatures and a lone hen will be miserable.

    As for consequences of keeping them illegally, usually it involves an order to remove the poultry, and a daily fine each day until you comply. I would also advise against keeping them illegally, as if you live in a suburban area, there is no way your neighbors won't know you have them. They can be quite noisy when singing the egg song or waiting to a nest box to become vacant. Also, if your neighbor's have dogs, the dogs will know the chooks are there. In my case, my neighbor's dogs dug under my fence and nabbed a chicken that ranged too close. If I had been illegal I would have had no recourse but because I was legal, and my neighbor was in the wrong by not stopping the dog from digging, the city took them to court and in addition to fines, they had a court order to repair the property line to prevent a recurrence.

    Your best bet is to continue to campaign to be allowed to keep them legally. Many cities are now allowing them and if you do the research and present them with a solid argument, perhaps even meeting with city decision makers to determine whether any are on your side, it can happen.

    Good luck!
     
  3. new chick 203

    new chick 203 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First, [​IMG]

    Second, yes, one does not work. IMO 3 is a minimum.

    Third, Lot's of people are outlaws, and that's a personal decision. I think that going through the right channels to try to change the law or to get a variance is more work, but it does help the others that come after you and for the image of chicken keeping. There are many great posts by people who are working to change laws. Do some research. I saw one document a few months ago that was so well researched it could be a blueprint for everyone who is doing the same thing. It went showed neighboring towns that allow chickens and how the housing values haven't dropped, and really addressed allot of the things that some people object to. The laws are changing in towns all over the U.S. so why not yours.

    Good luck!
     
  4. saddina

    saddina Internally Deranged

    May 2, 2009
    Desert, CA
    May I suggest quail? Yes i'm serious. Many cities do not have any rules regarding them on the books, the males "crow" blends in with neighborhood songbirds, and you can incubate and raise several small harems with little issue. In alot of ways it's like rasing a banty hen, but legal.

    Start reading here:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=102281
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2011
  5. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:That's a great idea! I actually incubated and am now raising quail for exactly this reason. Although my city allows chickens, it limits the number I can have and I wanted more. So I looked up the laws on quail and since they didn't appear to be included in the list of poultry that was limited, I went for it. As Saddina said, the male crow sounds like the call of a wild bird so I don't think my neighbors even know I have them. (Since quail and chickens can't be kept together I had to get creative to find a way to keep them separate, but what I have works). From the quail I ended up with a source of meat (the un-needed roos) and eggs. And, because I can keep mail quail, I also have a source of fertile eggs so I can incubate them easily, whereas with the chooks I have to buy shipped eggs since we can't keep roosters.
     
  6. LoveFeathers

    LoveFeathers Out Of The Brooder

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    HEchicken, that's what I figured with keeping just one. Most of the exotics I keep, aside from my reptiles, are social creatures and I would never consider making them live alone. The only exception is my CAG, since we are his family and he's with us all the time. I thought 3 would be a good number but figured it didn't hurt to ask those with more experience [​IMG]

    My neighbour does have a dog but he's an old one that doesn't have much of a drive for anything. Additionally, the fencing is reinforced with wood underneath it so I don't think it would be possible for him to dig underneath. I will check it out though. However, I assume he'd do the same for rabbits and mine have been out there with no issue or interest from him. Still an excellent point and one I will have to carefully consider.

    I have contacted the mayor regarding changing the law and will definitely do more research to build a better case.

    The quail is a great idea, though I wouldn't keep them for meat. I'm vegetarian and even if I wasn't don't think I could kill a pet (but maybe that's the veggie in me talking!). Aren't quail eggs extremely tiny? I heard they have an odd taste to them as well. I would also worry for their safety as they are quite small. I used to work with quail but can't recall, can they fly? Can quail become friendly with people if hatched and raised from an egg? One of my main considerations when researching breeds was to find one that would be friendly and easy to handle, so if I start with quail instead I would like the same.

    Thank you guys for the great information! This is so helpful!

    EDIT: So I did a bit of reading. I understand I will need some sort of cage for the quail as otherwise they will leave (haha). This is actually seeming like a better idea while I work on having the chicken laws changed. It seems like it would be a cheap and easy start up and I could give them tons of extra room. I'm concerned about the winter months, though, as I do live in a gigantic freezr (ie Canada).
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2011
  7. saddina

    saddina Internally Deranged

    May 2, 2009
    Desert, CA
    Yes quail can fly, and will if spooked, but mine are used to hands being in thier cage, and have never decided to attempt to fly off. The eggs are about an inch long, and that's part of thier appeal (tiny deviled eggs are a hit at potlucks) They need much less space than a chicken, so it evens out, you simply have more quail for the same area of room, and less feed. The taste isn't noticably odd, but they do have more yolk/white so they can be richer in flavor (hens eggs when offered grass are this way as well). My qual are in a 2X3 cage (normal bunny size, and 6 live in there quite contentedly. We reduced meat to what we knew was grown kindly and humainly, as we didn't wish to buy factory meat (which my 11 year old says "tastes like guilt"). However if you have a cat or dog, you could process the meat as pet food (and give them a healthier option than kibble). You'll have the same problem hatching chickens, namely males happen and must be dealt with too.
     
  8. Nicole01

    Nicole01 Overrun With Chickens

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    You might want to find a way to sound proof your coop. I'm not sure if insulating would be enough. The hens can get very noisy. There are breeds that are naturally quieter. I'd start out with at least 2 if not 3 girls. If I were an outlaw, I'd doubt I would free range. I wouldn't want to chance on getting caught. Chickens are quick and can fly pretty high when they want to.
     
  9. LoveFeathers

    LoveFeathers Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't think I could bring myself to kill any animal. I would likely look to sell extra males. I feed kibble for convenience when needed but I usually cook for all my pets as it is much healthier. I also would not want them hooked on the taste of "fresh bird" as I would not want to put my birds at extra risk.

    Sound-proofing is a good idea, but if I cannot let them free range due to the currently legal status I would prefer not to have chickens at all. I think I will try the quail first - it's a smaller investment with no legal risk, and I won't have to keep them hidden and hush hush [​IMG] Now I just have to find a source for eggs...My problem is that anywhere I have looked sells in minimum batches of 20-25. I definitely don't want more than 4 or 5 quail to start. Perhaps I can simply offer to pay the bulk price but only take 7 or 8 eggs (to account for an imperfect hatch rate).
     
  10. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:Yeah, um, actually, so am I [​IMG] I became a vegetarian based on humanitarian grounds due to the way animals are kept and treated by the "meat industry". However I decided that if that was my reasoning, then I was also okay with eating an animal if I know how it has been raised and know that it was treated humanely throughout its life. In the past few years, the only meat I have eaten is half a dozen roosters from batches of straight runs (since I can only keep hens) and 5 quail. And all of that was shared with my family.

    My logic is that even if I "rehome" extra males, in all likelihood they will end up being eaten by whoever obtains them, and I have no guarantee they will be killed humanely if that is the case. If I do it, I know exactly what their life - and death - entailed. My poultry (chickens and quail) are all kept as family pets. The chickens free range from dawn to dusk. I grow mealworms to feed them as treats, and during the summer, pick garden pests off my vegie garden as extra treats for them rather than use chemical pesticides. I also grow extra greens to feed them, and they get tables scraps as well. I do keep my quail caged because they will fly off (and can fly rather higher and further than I was lead to believe while researching them - don't ask me how I know [​IMG] ) but their cage is moved to new "graze" every three days and they are able to build nests in tall grass - just like their preference in the wild.

    Do I like killing them? No, of course not! It is something I see as a necessary evil, since 50% of what hatches statistically, is male, yet in chickens only 1 male is needed per 10 hens and with Coturnix, 1 male to about 5 hens is optimum. So I researched all the possible methods and settled on the one that seems the most humane. I try to make their last moments as stress free as possible and I believe they really don't feel much if anything when the time comes.

    I'm not trying to sell you on it - to each their own is my philosophy - just offering another point of view.
     

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