Noise, waste, disease not urban chicken problems

We would like to address the concerns expressed by Eva Jensen in her letter to the editor published Feb. 10. CLUCK Red Deer is trying to reach out to those in our community who, like Jensen, may not be familiar with the concept of urban hen keeping and understandably have some misgivings.

We would like to address the concerns expressed by Eva Jensen in her letter to the editor published Feb. 10. CLUCK Red Deer is trying to reach out to those in our community who, like Jensen, may not be familiar with the concept of urban hen keeping and understandably have some misgivings.

In this spirit, we held an Open Coop event on Jan. 29, attended by over 60 curious Red Deerians, who had the opportunity to see what urban hen keeping looks like.

What they learned, we hope, is that urban coops bear little resemblance to traditional rural or farm chicken coops: they are clean and quiet, and contain a handful of birds, not hundreds or thousands.

Jensen is correct in pointing out that hens produce manure, like all pets do. The reality is that six laying hens consume less food, and thus produce less waste than two large dogs. Dog “manure” does go to the landfill, as does cat waste and waste in disposable diapers.

“Poop” in the dump is commonplace. Most backyard coops utilize wood shavings as bedding, and these are easily compostible along with the droppings, to be used as fertilizer for vegetable and flower beds.

Using composted manure, usually cow manure, as garden fertilizer is a common practice among avid gardeners in Red Deer, but chicken manure is particularly rich and valuable. Also, a properly maintained coop produces no offensive odor, as any of the Open Coop attendees can attest.

Mice love any yard or home that is accessible, provides shelter and has a food source; not just chicken coops. We can and should deter or trap mice in chicken coops in the same way we do in our homes.

“Bird flu,” or Influenza A virus subtype H5N1, doesn’t spontaneously occur in hens, it is contracted by close contact with an infected bird. The reason birds were culled in B.C. in January 2009 was that a low-pathogenic (very mild) strain was found on a large commercial poultry operation, and the accepted international standard for disease control is to euthanize the entire flock. Backyard hens do not come into contact with the birds most likely to be infected.

If more families kept a few hens in their backyards, the size and number of commercial flocks — which are the breeding grounds for such pathogens — could be reduced. The keeping of backyard chickens is often seen as a solution, not a problem.

While looking at background information you’ll also see that even in factory farms, which have had outbreaks of poultry illness, transmission to humans is not common or commonly threatening.

As Jensen is aware, having been raised on a farm and been a farmer herself, hens lay eggs regardless of whether there is a rooster around to fertilize them.

No one in Red Deer, backyard hen enthusiasts included, wants roosters in the city. Unfertilized eggs do not hatch into chicks. There will be no feral chickens running loose around neighbourhoods, since they will be kept in enclosed runs.

If any family finds themselves unable to keep their hens for whatever reason, CLUCK is willing to find new homes for them.

Sunnybrook Farm is indeed a treasure in the heart of our city. However, I’m sure Jensen is aware that, as a museum and petting zoo, it bears little resemblance to a modern farm. Visiting a petting zoo is indeed educational, but only goes so far to engender a full appreciation of where our food comes from and what our farmers do.

Jensen, we find your apparent concern for Red Deer turning into a “Third World shantytown” not only offensive, but absurd. Vancouver, Kingston and Fredericton are but a few of the Canadian cities that allow backyard hens; not to mention large metropolitan American cities such as New York, Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City and Houston.

While we live in Alberta with our own cultural backdrop, I’m sure we can respect that while you want hamsters and dogs, we choose chickens.

After the success of our first Open Coop event, we look forward to hosting another, and hope that Jensen and other Advocate readers will join us.

Lisa Claire Lakaparampil

and Adrienne Tetz

CLUCK Red Deer

Just Posted

Candles, flowers, messages of support at scene of Toronto van attack

TORONTO — Candles, flowers and messages of support are being left this… Continue reading

Trudeau calls van attack ‘horrific and senseless,’ says no apparent terror link

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a Toronto man’s deadly rampage… Continue reading

Restaurant Brands announces ‘Working Together’ plan to improve Tim Hortons

OAKVILLE, Ont. — Restaurant Brands International Inc. announced a plan to improve… Continue reading

AP-NORC poll: Privacy debacle prompts social-media changes

NEW YORK — If you’ve made changes to how you use social… Continue reading

Get Into My Car … Amazon begins delivery to vehicles

SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon latest perk … free delivery to your car.… Continue reading

WATCH: Central Alberta dancers take over Red Deer College with their moves

Danceworks Central Alberta Dance Festival is now in its 38th year

Habana, World Cup winner & Springbok record-holder, retiring

Bryan Habana, the lightning-fast South Africa wing and World Cup winner with… Continue reading

Canadians head home after U-17 soccer tournament called off due to violence

Canada coach Bev Priestman was preparing her team for a game Sunday… Continue reading

TV’s ‘Homeland’ feels challenge of competing with real world

WASHINGTON — Members of the cast of TV’s “Homeland” call it “spy… Continue reading

Opioid treatment gap in Medicare: methadone clinics

One in three older Americans with Medicare drug coverage is prescribed opioid… Continue reading

‘RFK Funeral Train’ show: Kennedy’s final journey in photos

SAN FRANCISCO — The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 50 years… Continue reading

Ten dead, 15 injured in van incident authorities call an horrific attack

TORONTO — The death toll rose to at least 10 late Monday… Continue reading

Andersen leads Maple Leafs in win over Bruins to force Game 7

Maple Leafs 3 Bruins 1 (Best of seven game series tied at… Continue reading

As Osoyoos Indian Band flourishes, so too does Okanagan’s wine tourism

Indigenous practices have driven growth of South Okanagan’s wine history and agricultural influence

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month