Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Stew Pot

Motivation.  Everyone needs a little every now and then - even chickens.  We've recently experienced a significant drop in egg production; like to zero eggs per day.  When you are feeding 5 hens and you are getting, maybe two eggs per week, you begin to think "chicken dinner" vs fresh eggs. 

I tried my usual form of motivation -- a daily rant outside the coop with threats of "Coq Au Vin and chicken pot-pie" if someone didn't get busy. The pleading and cajoling didn't help either.  And, worse yet, I had to buy a dozen eggs from the grocery store - something I hadn't done in over a year!

I was at a loss as to why this was happening and what our girls needed to get back to work. No one was ill.  Had they run their egg-laying course already? We started the difficult discussions of "what's next" (which are good to have regardless).  Would we keep non-producing hens through the winter or would we send them to the big chicken coop in the sky?

I turned to Backyard Chicken's Forum and asked if anyone else had experienced this phenomenon. I got well-wishers and a few with similar problems, but no solid leads. Thankfully a general web search return better results, and we narrowed it down to two possible causes - old age and/or molting.

Then it hit me like a feathered pillow...our girls are molting.  I did see a small amount of feathers in the coop, but attributed those to pecking order dust-ups.  They were in "day-long" molt.   

Thinking it over, I realized we made a mistake last year by not letting our girls molt in their second fall season; and that, combined with turning the artificial daylight off in March, sent the girls into a spring molt.  You can't stop mother nature.

Last week we got 4 eggs total (Penny the hen-pecked Barred Rock was the only girl still laying). On Sunday I found 4 eggs in the nest - yes, 4 in one day!  Yesterday there were 3 beautiful eggs awaiting.  Seven eggs in two days!  Needless to say we are grateful for their good work -- and hope they keep it up.  

On a serious note, if your hens will be two next spring, it's probably best to let them molt this fall.  As for the age factor, hens reach peak productivity at about 35 weeks (greater than 90% productivity) when they are pumping out 9 eggs in 10 days. This peak lasts for about 10 weeks and slowly declines over time.  However, most hens will remain productive layers through age 3 - good news for our girls. 

Looks like we can put the stew pot back in the cupboard -- at least for the time being.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ruffled Feathers Followup

It appears that Urban Chicken Farmers in Coeur d'Alene may have a feathered friend in City Councilman, Mike Kennedy. 

While I was unable to attend the City Council's General Services committee meeting on Monday, I was contacted by Mr. Kennedy to share my thoughts on the three chicken limit.  I believe 6 to 8 hens is a fair limit; but I have read that others in our community have been raising up to 25 birds, for many years, with no complaints from anyone.  I suspect that the City Council will amend this ruling and we will see a limit somewhere between 6 and 12 allowed. 

They will be revisiting this at the July 12th General Services meeting.

Kennedy made some valid points in an email he sent to those who attended the meeting on Monday with a reminder to be careful what you crow about (my words, not his).  Below is his email along with his contact information - should you want to join in the dust up.

One final note, The Second Street Chicken Ranch did invite Mr. Kennedy to visit our coop and we are waiting to hear what works for his schedule.    

"Hello, all!

This afternoon the General Services committee asked staff (Deputy City Attorney Warren Wilson, in particular) to review the issue of the limits on the numbers of chickens in the city limits and bring the matter back to us at our July 12th General Services Committee meeting.

The information presented by residents today was very helpful, particularly the FAQ “Myths and Facts” that Chris White handed out. Thanks to those of you who were there to help educate us.

Bottom line is that no one intended (certainly I didn’t) to alarm or upset any existing practices that have been working well. In the absence of any comments from any residents at all during the long redrafting process – including two televised hearings and a few newspaper stories about the animal ordinance – I assumed that things were pretty accepted. In fact I made the motion to change the staff recommendation from zero permissible domestic chickens to three, because I had known and read about sustainable urban farming but I knew nothing about the limits or average number in a city setting.

So please forgive me (us) for perhaps not getting this quite right to your interests on the front end. I’m looking forward to getting a better resolution the second time around and if you all can help me with good facts and local information that will go a long way.

I’m also interested in touring a site in the city limits if someone is willing to have me there to see things on site – the more unique the better.

One last note – in the category of “be careful what we wish for” – there is a likelihood that raising the profile of this issue will bring out detractors and also people who will want to challenge whether these are commercial operations in residentially zoned areas within the city and thus should be disallowed all together. While I may not necessarily agree with that argument, please know that it’s likely that additional questions will be raised relative to those and other issues (i.e. what to do about roosters, other fowl that someone may want to domesticate, etc). The more clear, calm, and fact-based any and all discussions on this matter both with the council and in the media the better. I’ve already gotten a few calls and emails from opponents of any chickens today.

In closing, rest assured that I am a supporter of sustainable urban farming and want to find the best outcome to this situation. I’ll work with you as best I can and look forward to doing so.

Thanks for your feedback, call me or email me if you have any questions or thoughts.


Mike Kennedy
PS – please feel free to forward this to anyone you may feel is interested in the information. You can reach me at:,, or I’m on Facebook at: and you can reach me and educate me (and other citizens who pay attention to city matters) there, too."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chicken Limits

The city of Coeur d'Alene recently overhauled its animal ordinances and included a pretty big change to its chicken laws.  Previously one could keep an unlimited number of fowl within city limits - as long as there was no rooster in residence; however the new law limits that number to three.  The Second Street Chicken Ranch is currently two over limit. 

If you have chickens or are thinking of raising chickens, I would ask that you attend the open meeting on this topic today, Monday, June 21, noon, at the CdA Library.  City Councilman, Mike Kennedy will listen to concerned citizens about this new law.  It sounds like they may consider raising the number - since it was an arbitrary number they selected.  Some are rallying that the number be raised to a dozen, but I would be very happy with 6 to 8.  But, unless we speak out, we will be limited to just three. 

Here is an article from this morning's CdA Press .  
Related Posts with Thumbnails