Sunday, April 09, 2017

Chick, Chick. Chicken On The Way?*

Next Monday Tonight the District of North Vancouver will be debating the idea of allowing home owners to add a chicken coop.

Pros: fresh eggs are better, and homegrown hens aren't full of hormones and antibiotics.  Good project for the kids too, and hens can be entertaining.

Cons: could be smelly if your neighbour doesn't clean the coop, and some people believe that chickens will attract bears and other varmints.  Noise shouldn't be an issue since home coops are limited to hens, not roosters.

* a jingle from my childhood in Calgary


Anonymous said...

Love it! I can hardly wait to see the bear-kissed chicken wire scenes in my neighborhood.
In my neighbourhood the guy next door kept a locked freezer in the carport with frozen pies in it. A bear broke into that. They also left food in their car and they found bearpaw prints all over the vehicle's doors.
I've had a small bear up one of my cedars ( on Halloween ). My fault as I didn't clear the fallen apples from under the car in the carport and the little guy was munching organic apples while peering out at the trick or treaters from under my tent trailer before being spooked into climbing.

Luckily raccoons don't like eggs and rats abhor chicken feed, though.

Do these people not realize that, although rarely seen, we DO have COUGARS in this area and that a cougar will try to take a chicken ( or a rat ) but it can also take a small child.

Incentivizing coyotes to prowl in my area will surely do nothing to reduce the number of 'Have You Seen Fluffy?' style missing cat postings.

I think this is a bad idea when you can buy eggs and chickens that are raised in the same way but on a farm.

Anonymous said...

Plenty of things attract bears from fruit trees to garbage. While you're at it, maybe stop allowing people to have vegetable gardens and berry patches. Better clear all those black berries from the laneways and field edges. What on earth did you all do prior to the 70's when there was actually agriculture going on on the North Shore. You know, farms, orchards, goats, chickens, cows, etc. If you're afraid of living with nature maybe move to the city centre. Oh, but when I lived in the west end, we saw deer and coyotes there, too. Stop imposing your irrational fears of nature on those who want to pursue a level of self sufficiency. You're on the edge of a forest. There will be wild animals, regardless of what you grow or raise in your yards.

Anonymous said...

I lived on a small rural acreage as a child and we kept chickens. Chicken manure is considered a "hot" manure (unlike horse manure for example) as it has a very high urea content. It will produce a strong odour, particularly in warm weather so frequent and fastidious cleaning is really necessary on small urban lots. The chicken "run" is the outdoor fenced-off area where the chickens come out of their coop and scratch and peck for bugs, worms etc. during the day. You also can throw some chicken feed in the run if you want although you can keep a feeder in the coop. You have to move the run to a fresh area from time to time as they will scratch up all of the grass and it will die due to the strong urea in their droppings and become a dead muddy area that will rejuvenate over some months of rain and sun. So you need to know that you are going to need to commit to a relatively good size piece of the backyard for movement of the runs. (Otherwise, you can restrict the chickens to their coops like the horrible battery chicken farms that produce the cheaper non free run eggs). Chickens get diseases and they must be doctored just like other animals. We kept their large water bottle in the coop and often had to introduce chemicals into the water to fight various maladies. They are somewhat carnivorous and if one chicken gets a problem with its rear end the other chickens will peck it until the sick chicken dies - you have to keep a careful eye and quarantine a sick chicken from the others, so you need to have room for a sick bay. Finally, they attract rats like crazy. I think the first poster was joking when he opined that rats don't like chicken feed - they love it. I recall as a farm child going out with my mother or father and watching them shooting rats that were attracted to the chicken coop. Also, not sure if we have weasel-like animals near the N. Shore but we had trouble with various animals getting into the chicken coop and killing the chickens. At least, coyotes take a chicken for food. The weasels will just kill all of the chickens for fun leaving a bloody, dead mess to greet you in the morning. So yes, it is doable to keep chickens on a small suburban lot near forests full of hungry animals but it isn't the idyllic, back to the land, vision of some.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of this idea. The two primary reasons chickens were phased out in the first place were rats and raccoons. Both transfer a whole host of diseases such as roundworm to your pets or in some cases through fleas to you. They are a genuine health threat. Also, a number of the arguments in favour of chickens are ridiculous. By the time you factor in the cost of the coop, your time in managing it, the vet costs, the feed costs and all other sundries you will be paying ~$20 per dozen eggs for the next ten years.

Speaking of ten years... Did you know that hens only produce for two years, but live for ten? How many of those hens will be abandoned after they stop producing? If you can only have 6 hens (West Van) or 8 Hens (CNV) what are you doing with all the retired ladies? History suggests they will be abandoned to the woods where their highly potent, high urea manure will dramatically affect local eco-systems.

Not a fan.

Anonymous said...

Back to chickens. I posted at 10:57.

Yes, they do stop laying but live on. When our girls stopped laying we took a twist tie and put it around her ankle. If she started laying again we took it off. If she didn't lay for a second week then we put a twist tie on her other leg. 2 twist ties and another week without laying and she would be Sunday dinner. I won't go into the reality of how you go from a live hen to a roast chicken for dinner as it may be a bit too much reality for the gentrified city folk but that is life raising laying hens.

Barry Rueger said...

My experience with chickens didn't seem to be as dire as some folks. Mostly I was just impressed with how stupid an animal has to be to sit on the fence in freezing rain when the nice warm coop is four feet away.

I can also remember my Grandmother dispatching tonight's dinner with an axe. Us kids were young enough to actually find a headless chicken charging around in circles amusing.

In theory I guess I should have become vegan.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:43 said:
"Stop imposing your irrational fears of nature on those who want to pursue a level of self sufficiency. You're on the edge of a forest. There will be wild animals, regardless of what you grow or raise in your yards"

I say:
1. I'm not imposing anything. I'm pointing out some things that need to be considered as to their unintended consequences. Let's call it the 'social cost of backyard chickens' shall we?

2. i don't have an irrational fear of nature. I have a completely rational fear of unnecessarily inviting certain forest creatures into my back yard and those yards of my neighbours. That extends to fear for these animals' lives which is often at risk in town. If you choose to call the RCMP to, say, deal with a bear on your doorstep while Halloween trick or treaters (CHILDREN) are wandering about in the dark and in the vicinity of said bear it doesn't always end well for the bear.
This situation actually did happen to me, although I instead called the 'Bear Line' who warned me against calling the RCMP ('because you know what THEY'LL do') says the ever helpful bear line activist as she thanked me for allowing them to enter the bear into their database. Basically, you are on your own.

It was my lack of apple tree maintenance that caused the situation, and I have reformed my ways in subsequent years. I doubt you can do much to make a mini chicken farm less attractive to a variety of creatures. Garbage you can keep in the basement and never put out overnight. Chickens and their scent and excrement... not so much.

You do make a point that there are other attractants everywhere ( blackberry bushes etc.) and that serves to highlight that this is a matter of degree which ought to be under discussion. For example, I also happen to think that backyard composting is a bad idea in an urban neighbourhood because it attracts and breeds rodents whose offspring wish to share my house. Others disagree because they haven't had an infestation in their attic yet I suppose or maybe they just like furry little creatures that reproduce rapidly.
Such is democracy. It's my opinion and I've told you why.
Again, fear of hosting mice in my walls so you can have a couple of eggs that are easily bought, I don't see as irrational. It's kind of practical. I will reconsider if you will agree to contribute to an an exterminator fund. Let's say 10 bucks a month per chicken, that I can then draw on when the four legged consequences of your 'self reliance' hobby repeatedly impacts my house.
It's not a lot different, maybe, than how we've come to treat dog owners and their pets. We expect them to pick up the dog sh**t into a plastic bag when walk in the park these days and leash them when out and about and keep them indoors if they bark all day while you are at work.
Are you willing to manage your avian pets to that degree? I mean what did all you dog owners DO in the 70s when attitudes were different? My recollection is we stepped in a lot more dog SH*T and some dogs got poisoned over it.

3. 'If you're afraid of living with nature maybe move to the city centre' sez you to me.
Well now, that's a gem. Pot meet kettle. 'Living with nature' on the 'edge of a forest' is indeed what this is about. You need to consider what that means and that cultivating wildlife attractants close to our brand new sustainable 'Town Centre' is maybe not how you ought to live on the edge of a forest. After all, it's hard enough for a cougar to avoid Park Royal in a dry summer without delicious chicken attractants closer to home. ( G**gle 'Cougar shot Park Royal' to refresh your memory of last year).

Ostrich puns aside, sticking your head in the sand about the downside to backyard avians is not helpful.

By the way, raising ostriches in the back yard would be even MORE self reliant. DO you think that might be a good idea?

Anonymous said...

Some people need to go find themselves a nice gated community to live in.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with bears, and suspect very few additional bears will be attracted, it is the rats, raccoons, and cougars that concern me. Cougars hunt children and if you think I am exaggerating one of the teachers at my kids school lost a child to a cougar attack 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

...and the RCMP landed a helicopter on the Dorothy Lynas field a couple of years ago so they could run around the terrified school with guns chasing a cougar that had been stalking kids in the Hamber Court trail.

Barry Rueger said...

Watching the video from last night's Council meeting. Wow, a lot of work and discussion about a few chickens! Watch out for the upcoming public hearing!

Of the surveys received by the District the count thus far is:

In favour: 226
Opposed: 63

A few Council members managed to make me chuckle.

Anonymous said...

The chicken thing is a result of a yuppie version of the romance of farm fresh eggs at your own home. Been there, raised laying hens on a small acreage. Bottom line. Not a good idea for 33 - 66 foot residential lots. Simply not enough room to keep the chickens in a comfortable run and the area sanitary. The points about attracting predators like coyotes, raccoons, cougars etc. have merit but, in my opinion, odour and vermin are the biggest issues.

Anonymous said...

Have chickens and beehives on a 33' lot 1/2 block from me here in CNV. No issues and the neighbourhood kids love it. Don't want chickens, don't have them.

Anonymous said...

You live a 1/2 block away. Doubt very much there are "no issues."

Anonymous said...

No issues 9:15?

Well, last time I looked the City of North Vancouver hosts hirises, not towering cedar forests.

This isnt the case (so far!) for many parts of the District of North Vancouver.
We DO have bears, cougars, racoons, deer, skunks, mice, etc. in close proximity to our neighbourhoods because of geography. I have personally encountered deer, racoons, bears, skunks and mice on MY property. I have yet to have a mouse or squirrel infestation but I know people who have and it isn't something you'd want.

Maybe if you lived a little closer to either the north shore mountains or that bee/chicken house a half block away, then you might see a few more night visitors than you are aware of or maybe you might find that rats, which are already numerous in CNV, are not the neighbours you want. A rat infestation situation I know of, was ( according to the professional exterminator ) caused by the housing of a few rabbits on the North Vancouver property. Apparently rabbits and chickens are similarly interesting to rats.

I'm not wanting a bee/chicken house next to mine and until you have one next to yours, perhaps you could hold off on the judgement that there are 'no problems'.

Anonymous said...

Get off your high horse anon 4:22. I live a block below the highway. We get bears, raccoons, skunks, deer, rats, eagles and all the animals you're so uptight about. You have things that aren't banned that are attractants every bit as much as chickens. Your arguments are petty and wholly unconvincing. Move to a walled community where you can dictate how your neighbours live or stop being such an officious boor and let people be.

Anonymous said...

This guy obviously has never lived on a chicken farm. Totally agree Anon 4:22. In my experience raising laying hens there are always "issues" which you quietly attempt to resolve and you rarely share them with your neighbours.

If the neighbourhood kids "loving something" is the criteria for Council permitting stuff then each property should have a Ferris wheel.

Some folks don't get that living within 30 feet of each other requires a civil society that doesn't allow us to do stuff that may impact our neighbours because it is our interest and we think it is cool.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, he's got it backwards. You don't need to move out of a suburban residential neighbourhood. He should move to a country lot and enjoy the sounds and smells. What they call "cluster flies" from manure piles and a permanent battle with rats and mice come to mind. Ah, the country life.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Barry Rueger for posting the link to the council meeting video.

It was informative. I particularly liked the exchange between Bond and Muri. It was quite entertaining watching Lisa Muri horsewhip Mathew Bond for his arrogant demeanor.

Bond sounded quite a lot like our friend Anon 6:02.
He was snidely citing the bird feeders, fruit tree existing attractants as justification for increasing the number of attractants.

Well to a degree, they are both right, strictly speaking, but the fruit trees and cats can be managed. And really, its the potential for more rats and mice that are the most concerning. Some cats help with that.

It would give me great pleasure to see Mathew Bond running on a slate of banning outdoor cats, bird feeders and fruit trees in the District. Go for it Mat!!! I double dare ya.

Barry Rueger said...

Editor's note: the previous comment came close to crossing the line into a personal shot at a Councilor, but the last paragraph is actually pretty funny.

Don't kid yourself though, one town in Idaho is now licencing cats.

Anonymous said...

At least chickens are in runs. Getting tired of neighbourhood cats leaving gifts in my perennial beds. Allow chickens and ban the damned cats.

Anonymous said...

Oh sure..'ban the damned cats'. You mean like these ones from Apr 21?

It's Translink's blogsite. Scroll down to the surveillance camera video.

Anonymous said...

Don't be silly. You must be a cat owner who lets it wander the neighbourhood and crap in everyone's gardens.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, Anon 8:54, you took a look at the video link. That's a Skytrain station.
A hungry cat will go where it thinks it needs to go when hungry.
If the only response you have to that video is 'You're being silly' then you are going to part of the problem.

A backyard chicken isn't silly to a cougar. It's simply delicious. They'd RATHER have a deer, but when the nostrils guide them to your back lot, and chickens are so easy to snag, or the rats that chickens attract are so numerous, then the big cats will habituate, as will a bear, and the result may be fatal to both chicken and predator.

By the way, the mail just arrived and I got a notice from the SPCA delivered by North Shore Black Bear society. It says 'A bear was recently spotted in your area'.
It also lists attractants that bring bears into a neighbourhood.
Included on the list are :(Dirtty BBQs, ripe fruit on trees, outdoor fridges and freezers, garbage and food scraps, bird feeders and bee hives, outdoor pet food, and last but not least backyard chickens.

Now the BBQ can be cleaned, fruit can be picked before ripe, bird feeders can be mounted on a high clothesline or rope, pets can be fed inside. What are you going to do about the attractiveness of your outdoor backyard chicken operation to bears, cougars, coyotes, raccoons,?

If you haven't got an answer to that, or to the inevitable increase in the rat/mouse population nearby the coop, then I suggest you stop with the snide remarks and rethink the situation.

Anonymous said...

So, some attractants are okay and others aren't. Get rid of all of them or allow all of them and manage as best you can. Until you take care of those who don't properly manga their garbage, fruit trees, bird feeders, gardens, etc. You'll always have wild animals coming into the community. Chickens or no chickens. you're on the edge a forest, what the hell were you expecting?