The following is a link to our article in the Kingston Whig Standard concerning Backyard Hens and below it is the article. We will be having a series of Public meetings concerning Backyard Hens at the following locations and times, please come out and show your support.
Urban Agriculture Kingston wants to initiate discussion amongst citizens and Councillors to see what solutions best fit our city. UAK suggests following the leadership of many other cities, amending bylaws such that:
Check out the internet for research, come up with your own opinions and share them with your city Councillor and/or with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some places to start looking:
Jacqueline Jolliffe's comprehensive study "Balking at Bocking; Urban Chicken Policy in Canada" can be read at:
There are many websites and facebook pages about keeping backyard hens and building chicken coops as well as about the struggles many municipalities have gone through to develop policy around backyard hens, here is a small sampling of them
www.backyardchickens.com : a great starting place
www.urbanchicken.net : more good links
www.facebook.com/urban.chickens : connect with others in your community and beyond
www.tarazod.com/filmsmadchicks.html the blog is quite good
www.madcitychickens.com from Madison City, WI
Henderson's Chicken Breed Chart:
www.Ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html This site has a great chart to help you select the breeds of chickens that suit your situation best.
April 21, 2010
To the Arts, Recreation and Community Policy Committee:
Urban Agriculture Kingston (UAK) has initiated a discussion in our City on the merits of allowing egg-producing hens into backyards. We would like the opportunity to present our research and our plans to you, and also to hear your concerns and suggestions.
UAK launched the campaign on June 8th, 2009, and has held five public events to raise awareness about the issue. Our petition, which calls for City Council to amend the bylaw to allow for backyard hens, has been signed by over 1000 residents.
Allowing urban hens would support Kingston’s goal to become Canada’s most sustainable city by providing an affordable, accessible, healthy food source in one’s own backyard, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste, not to mention the population of battery-hens. Dozens of North American municipalities, including Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Niagara Falls, Seattle, and New York City allow backyard hens. In all cases, the rule-changes have resulted in very few, and sometimes zero, bylaw complaints. The KFLA Board of health produced a report in June 2009, and assessed backyard hens to pose no health concerns providing good management practices.
UAK is advocating for a set of bylaws and guidelines that will ensure harmony among neighbours, and a happy and productive life for backyard hens. We are advocating measures that incorporate the “five freedoms,” as developed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, an advisory body to the UK government.
Thank you for your consideration,
Urban Agriculture Kingston
The Kingston Backyard Hen Campaign
Urban Agriculture Kingston (UAK) is a not-for-profit working group of OPIRG Kingston that promotes sustainable food production for all people in the Greater Kingston area, by advocating policy changes in governments and institutions that will support increased food sovereignty across the region.
As part of its mission to enhance food security and healthful food consumption among local residents, UAK has initiated the Kingston Backyard Hens campaign, and is supported by the Community Urban Sustainability Project, OPIRG Kingston, and the Living Cities Company. Kingston Backyard Hens comprises a diverse group of area residents dedicated to awareness, advocacy, and education concerning urban chickens within the City of Kingston. Supporters believe that responsible urban hen ownership is a desirable element of sustainable urban agriculture and can provide Kingston residents with greater control over their food sources.
After four months of outreach and consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including City Council, the Public Health Unit, the Community Roundtable on Poverty Reduction, the Kingston Humane Society, neighbourhood associations, local veterinarians, local farmers, the general public, and 16 municipalities that currently allow backyard hens, we seek the following bylaw changes:
1. Maximum of 8 hens per property;
2. Roosters prohibited;
3. Home slaughter prohibited;
4. Feed must be stored securely;
5. Manure must be composted in enclosed bin
6. Chicken run must be kept clean.
7. All other animal control bylaws will apply such as noise, odour, animal cruelty, animals-at-large
8. Sale of eggs or manure is prohibited.
9. Mandatory registration online or by phone
Guidelines will be a public record of best management practices. These will be made available to registrants through the City website if they register online, or will be mailed to the registrants if they register by phone.
– Minimum 0.37 m2 (4 ft2 ) coop space and 0.92 m2 (10 ft2 ) enclosed run space per hen
− Entire structure must be roofed
− >15 cm perch for each hen and one nest box
− Hens must remain enclosed when not under direct supervision
Hens must be provided food, water, shelter, adequate light and ventilation, veterinary care, and opportunities to scratch, dust-bathe, and roost.
− Enclosures must be:
−kept in good repair and sanitary condition
− constructed to prevent access by other animals
− Food and water must be kept in coop at night
− Manure /waste must be removed in timely manner
− Register on-line or by phone
− No registration fee
− Registrants must reside on lot with hen enclosure
Information provided on registry website
− By-law requirements
− Resource page with links to Best Management Practices (BMPs), humane education, and biosecurity information
− List of upcoming hen workshops
The cost eggs for backyard hens are between $1-$3/dozen depending on the season and the amount of kitchen scraps supplementing purchased feed. Cost also depends on if the feed is organic, and upon the size and breed hen. A final variable is what type of bedding is used and how it is procured (straw, wood shavings, etc). (info sourced from forums on backyardchickens.com, accessed April 9th, 2010)
According to a 2005 study of grade 5 students in Nova Scotia, 73.7% of the children did not meet the minimum recommendations of Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating for meat and alternatives (eggs) (redorbit.com/news/health/152025/dietary_intake_and_risk_factors_for_poor_diet_quality_among/ accessed April 9, 2010).
True free range eggs are only available at the farm gate of a farmer whose operation you can see. If people want to buy farm fresh free range eggs, they need a car, and will have to pay at least $4/dozen. Those who keep hens in backyards can easily be car-free and receive delivery of bags of feed. Carless people can buy free range eggs at upmarket stores for $4-$6/dozen, but are they really free range? According to the Chicken Farmers of Canada, “The term has not been legally defined in either Canada or the U.S” (www.chicken.ca/DefaultSite/index.aspx?ArticleID=3434&lang=en-CA April 9th, 2010).
Reduced Solid Waste:
Those who wish to can enhance their food-waste-food cycle at home. Composted hen manure provides an excellent source of garden fertilizer: higher in N-P-K, phosphorus, and calcium than any other animal (Rodale Guide to Composting).
There is no hard data on how much of an impact allowing backyard hens would have on Kingston’s solid waste volume: we expect a small but measurable (on a household level) reduction in waste. Mouscron, a small city in Belgium has twice distributed laying hens to willing residents, as part of a multi-faceted campaign to reduce waste (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8539877.stm, accessed April 9th 2010).
A Community-Building Food Source:
There are a variety of ways in which hens build community. In almost all cities that allow hens, there are henning societies that provide knowledge-sharing venues on-line and in groups. They often form buying clubs to secure better pricing and delivery arrangements. Like dog-owners, henners like to get together and talk shop.
Children will see where their food comes from and have the chance to eat healthy, ethical food.
A Sustainable pet:
Many owners report taking delight in the behavior and character of their hens. Most continue to care for them when they stop laying after around five years (they might still live another two years). Eight hens would weigh about half of a labrador retriever, the most popular pet in North America. Eight hens would produce about 240g/day of feces, all of which can be used to make excellent fertilizer (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=3F5C48821BFEF99A572D92B6FD803481.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=606984 accessed April 9th, 2010). A typical dog produces about 340g/day of feces that must be landfilled (ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/AK/.../dogwastecomposting2.pdf accessed April 9th, 2010).
Backyard hens allow people to detach from the industrial-egg machine. It is not feasible for most to go to a farm in the countryside each week, and the claims that free-range supermarket eggs come from hens with good lives are overstated. They are not in cages, but still live 20,000 to a barn, and though there is an open door in their barn, they never go outside.
An April 7, 2010 video from the Humane Society of the US which depicts the typical treatment of conventionally raised egg laying hens : youtube.com/watch?v=59f3xeUgChc
Canada has 25 million hens are kept in battery cages: http://www.humanefood.ca/battery.html
Food of High Quality:
There can be no substitute for a fresh egg that comes from a healthy hen eating a variety of green leafy matter. The yolks are bright yellow/orange and are much better for cooking and baking.
Eggs are a good source of dietary protein (Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating). There is a small but building body of evidence showing that pastured free-range hens that eat a variety of leafy greens (ie grass and carrot tops) are more healthy than barn-raised free-range eggs organic or otherwise. Aside from being free of pesticides and antibiotics, pastured poulty eggs have:
• 1⁄3 less cholesterol
• 1⁄4 less saturated fat
• 2⁄3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
(motherearthnews.com/Relish/Pastured-Eggs-Vitamin-D-Content.aspxa accessed April 9, 2010).
Unlike other pets, which can be bought on impulse because they look cute and are kept indoors, hens require significant input of time and money before they can be brought home. Coops cost upwards of $500 and must be delivered, and home construction is more time-consuming and can not likely be done for less than $200. Furthermore, hens are usually ordered, also requiring forethought.
We are taking steps to ensure that anyone who hens will be prepared and informed of best management practices. Based on this and the experiences of other communities, there seems no reason to anticipate a problem of abandoned hens.
Already there are henners in Kingston raising hens rescued from slaughter at local egg farms. We expect that there would be willing adopters for any hens that are abandoned.
Local veterinarians have expressed a capability to offer full service to hens: treatment, euthanizing, disposal.
In the decades following World War II, suburbanites seeded their lots with grass, installed lawn sprinklers, applied chemicals to their yards liberally, and passed bylaws prohibiting livestock both great and small – including chickens – in urban and suburban backyards.
In recent years, many of us have begun to realize that maintaining a close connection to our food is a positive, rather than a negative choice, and is an important part of living a more agriculturally and ecologically sustainable lifestyle. Farmers markets (including the weekly market in downtown Kingston) have since experienced a massive revival, people are gardening more, and communities around the nation are changing decades-old laws forbidding the keeping of chickens.
Many major cities across North America, including Vancouver, Victoria, New York, Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles have already allowed the small-scale raising of chickens in a wide range of urban settings. Now it is Kingston’s turn to join this positive and growing trend. We can follow the example of comparable Canadian examples such as Niagara Falls, Brampton, Nelson, Victoria, Esquimault, and Saanich.
Where people have negative opinions on this issue, it is often due to misconceptions: that hens inherently smell, are noisy, diseased, pest-attracting nuisances. UAK has contacted staff from 15 municipalities in Canada and the USA, and all report low bylaw enforcement complaint rates: the average was 5 complaints per year per 100,000 residents. By comparison, there were 447 dog related complaints in Kingston last year. Their opinion was that, like any pet, hens require an investment of time, energy, care, and money.