Pilot backyard chicken coops still cracking
For nearly a year Charity Briere has enjoyed fresh eggs from her backyard.
She is one Red Deer resident who is part of a pilot project that began in earnest in February 2012 to see how urban chicken farms would work.
City council approved a pilot project looking into urban chickens at a meeting in late Febrary 2012.
Briere’s four chickens live in a coop in the backyard of her Parkvale home.
They produce two to four eggs a day
Adrienne Tetz, co-founder of the Red Deer chapter of Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK), said she and members of CLUCK have spent the past year supporting urban farmers and educating other people.
“It’s been really successful. We don’t know of any complaints about it,” said Tetz.
They know of 15 or 16 quiet chicken operations in the city, but they admit there could be more.
“If we don’t know about it then it’s working,” said Briere. “We’re not hearing word about it being smelly, noisy or chickens running loose.”
Briere’s neighbours all know about her farm and she said they are curious and interested.
When she went away from Christmas a neighbour came over and took care of the chickens.
“She took better care of them then I would,” said Briere. “She was checking on them almost every hour and showed her family about it because she thought it was so neat.”
Briere chose to raise urban chickens for many reasons. As a mother she would like to be able to provide food for her family as simply and cleanly as possible.
“I think this really is one of the biggest things you could do,” said Briere.
“I’m a big gardener, but you can’t necessarily grow protein.”
But the chickens help with her composting, which is a part of her gardening.
“It’s fun too,” said Briere. “It actually brings me a lot of happiness just seeing them out my window and they’re doing their silly little chicken things. The kids get such a kick out of it.”
Day to day raising the chickens involves feeding and watering them as well as collecting the eggs and watching them in case something is wrong.
While it is a lot of fun for Briere and her family, she said it is a lot of work and responsibility.
Though Briere lives in Parkvale the urban chicken farms are spread throughout the city including Morrisroe, Mountview, Anders, Anders on the Lake, Woodlea and Clearview.
As well as providing food for the families both Briere and Tetz said they are good teaching tools for kids as they teach responsibility, food and nutrition and knowing how food is produced.
“My daughter, every day when she gets off the bus home from school, she stops and checks for eggs,” said Briere. “She gets excited and comes in the door and says ‘Mom there are two eggs.’”
They do have recommendations for urban chicken farmers who want their own startup, including proper coop construction, no roosters, at least four months old, at most four to six chickens per property and maintained well.
“We also recommend people talk to their neighbours and be really open about it as well and get feedback from them as well,” said Tetz.
Though they have yet to sit down with city administration and discuss how the pilot project went, they would like to do that soon and submit their recommendations.