Welcome to a further edition of our tour of some of the coops participating in Edmonton's Urban Hens Pilot Project. This is a smaller coop, built entirely of repurposed material, and yet sound and comfortable for the hens. The owner built it next to his garage for added protection in the winter, and under a tree for shade in the summer.
The owner elected to start with older laying hens for the pilot project. At the time of the photo tour, each hen was approximately three years old, yet between them they produced several eggs each week. In addition, they provide great outdoor entertainment for the owner's daughter, and supply droppings that can be composted and used in the garden.
In winter, the owner monitored the temperature and, during the coldest weather, used a single bulb for added heat.
Features of the coop include a bird feeder and nipple-style waterer, both of which make minimal mess, and a naturalistic roost. The owner used wood shavings in the coop and gravel in the run, both of which were dry and clean
The girls come outside from time to time to do a little backyard inspection and some freestyle gardening.
Participating in the Pilot Project has been a great experience for the owner and, he believes, for his neighbours as well. He hopes that at the end of the Pilot Project Edmonton will decide to allow hens on a more permanent basis.
Welcome to a new entry in our photo tour of coops participating in Edmonton's Urban Hens Pilot Project. This coop is located in a mature neighbourhood in south Edmonton. The owners built a lovely, comfortable home for their hens. The coop is located on a cement pad behind their house and features both a nesting and roosting area and a covered run, which the hens really appreciated in the winter. Plenty of windows help with lighting and ventilation.
The owners added a lovely, shaded run at the back of the coop. They are using chain link fencing topped with wire netting to keep out predators. They are trying landscaping mulch as a substrate in the run, with good results so far.
The hens access the coop through a "pop hole" equipped with an automatic door opener (shown from inside the coop).
The inside of the coop has a number of features which with the owners are particularly pleased. The roost is broad, which helps the hens to cover their toes in winter, preventing frostbite. A tray underneath the roost is filled with stall dry, which makes for easy clean up. Chickens make a lot of droppings when they roost, and having this special tray, which the owners can easily access through a side door, keeps chore time to a minimum. The nest boxes are plastic, which makes them easy to clean and disinfect. The feed dispenser is raised off the floor, resulting in fewer spills.
The owners say the hens have been a welcome addition to their yard and family. They have received positive feedback from their neighbours, especially one who is an avid gardener and who appreciates the occasional gift of compost.
They hope that at the conclusion of the pilot project Edmonton's City Council will decide to change the bylaw.
Welcome to the fourth installment of our photo tour of coops in Edmonton's Urban Hens Pilot project. Today's coop is from a busy neighbourhood in south-west Edmonton. The owners are first-time hen owners, raising a bantam cochin, a cochin, a brahma and an isa brown.
The owners have made a coop suitable for all weather. The run is protected from wind and snow by removable siding and clear plastic. A heavy carpet was added during a windy spell to protect an otherwise sheltered area.
Inside, the coop is well-insulated. The floor is deeply covered with soft shavings and straw, and the roost is broad, with sanded edges to keep the chickens comfortable and to help them spread out their feet to keep them warm. The owners added soffits all around the top for ventilation, and a glass block used for a window can be removed.
The owners are really enjoying their experience with the pilot project:
The experience of owning hens has been incredibly rewarding. Of course the eggs are delicious, which we expected, but I really did not know how engaging and entertaining hens are. Keeping hens really takes very little time, but we find ourselves out there with them in the yard just because they are fun and interesting to watch, even in the dead of winter. They all have different personalities and that part has been a joy to discover. I have also been delighted with the positive response from my neighbours. Some did not realize we had them until a month had passed by and we mentioned it, they really are very quiet! They also are doing a fine job of taking care of our kitchen scraps for us, and the treats delight them. All in all, an amazing experience.
This post is the second in our series featuring coops from Edmonton's Urban Hens Pilot Project.
Today's coop is located in the Terwillegar area of the city, a family-friendly, close-knit neighbourhood. It is sized for six hens, but is currently home to only four. The owner has chosen Chantecler and Wyandotte breeds, both of which are a heavier, heritage breed that can tolerate cool temperatures. The owner designed the coop specifically with Edmonton's winters in mind, but as you can see, aesthetic appeal played a role as well.
The coop temperature is monitored remotely, which helps the owner assess conditions in the coop even on the coldest of nights. A CFL bulb is used to extend daylight, but with minimal adjustments this arrangement could serve as a simple heat source through conversion of the CFL bulb to incandescent. Water is kept fresh and easy to access in a bucket equipped with an aquarium heater and a nipple watering system.
A window on the side, covered with hardware cloth for safety, can be either opened or shut tight as needed. The nest box is internal to help keep it warm but is easily accessed by a sliding door on the outside. The "pop hole" can be closed at night from outside the coop, which helps preserve heat on cold nights.
The coop is fully insulated with 1.5 inch foam insulation, lined with coroplast. The liner prevents the hens from pecking at the insulation and is easy to wipe clean. The coop is ventilated by an opening in the ceiling, 5 feet long and 6 inches wide, underneath the raised roof. Ventilation is critical in cold weather. Cold-hardy breeds can withstand cool temperatures, so long as they are not exposed to drafts or humidity. By adding ventilation in the ceiling, the owner hopes to ensure that her girls have plenty of fresh air but are still free from drafts.
The coop is surrounded by hardware cloth, and could be wrapped with plastic if desired to keep snow out of the run. Double doors in the back make for easy cleaning, and a large door on the side makes for easy access to the hens.
With Christmas lights up, this coop is all set for the season!
Now that the Edmonton Urban Hens Pilot Project is underway, we wanted to take the opportunity to show you what an Edmonton chicken coop can look like!
Our first coop is in Grandview, an older, upscale area of the city. The owner grew up on a farm and has had quite a bit of experience raising birds.
The coop has space in the coop and run for 7 birds, according to Edmonton's pilot project guidelines.
The coop is fully insulated, with a south-facing window to increase heat in winter. There is ventilation at the rafters, and the window can be opened in hot weather. The run is fully covered, with clear roofing for light in winter, and nearby trees for shade in summer.
Below you see the wooden nest boxes and the roost, with a rounded top for comfort.
For security, there is hardware cloth enclosing the roofed run, top to bottom.
The door is solid and draft-free, and apparently hooked up to a state-of-the-art security system.
But the girls still come out to play from time to time!
At our Chickens 101, a local veterinarian spoke about steps for keeping hens healthy. Here is a little more information about a condition that hens can sometimes get.
ILT or Infectious Laryngotracheitis is a provincially reportable disease. The disease is caused by a herpes virus and results in upper respiratory signs. More information on the disease can be found here:
The recommended vaccine for ILT is of tissue culture origin and is available through a poultry services company in Airdrie via your veterinarian.
The decision whether to vaccinate or not should be made in consultation with your veterinarian and will depend on a number of factors including whether you will be showing/travelling with your birds, how many people will be exposed to your birds etc..
We've posted a (non-exhaustive) list of resources for the use of participants in Edmonton's Urban Hens Pilot Project. Other resources we should add? Let us know! (updated to add list of vets interested in looking after chickens!)
In anticipation of the Urban Hens Pilot Project, River City Chickens presents "Chickens 101", a workshop for anyone interested in keeping chickens in Edmonton! Sun Oct 5 at 2:00pm at the Edmonton Strathcona Library, 8331 104 St NW Edmonton, Alberta.
Topics will include:
Feeding and care
...and many other tips and resources for keeping hens in Edmonton.
There will be plenty of time included for questions, discussion, and meeting other chicken enthusiasts!
Tickets through Eventbrite, Cost: $
The City has made the application form available here. The City says there are a limited number of spots available, and that if you would like to participate you should send your application form right away.
On August 18, 2014, Edmonton's Community Services Committee approved City administration's report on a on a possible urban hen pilot project for residential properties within the City of Edmonton. We are excited about this opportunity to help dispel some of the myths about urban chickens, and we hope to share more details as they become available.
A report published on the City's website for the July 7, 2014 Community Services Committee meeting says "This is the first of two reports outlining a proposed urban pilot project. A second report outlining a pilot on the keeping of hens is anticipated to come forward to Community Services Committee on August 18, 2014."
Edmonton has a Food Council, folks! You can read about their members and mandate on Edmonton's Food Council web page. The first meeting took place on Monday, September 23, 2013. A local blogger provides a recap of the meeting here.
The members of the Food Council were provided with an open letter from a local family, in support of backyard hens. A member of River City Chickens Collective met up with this family, who wants to share their story with you.
We knew that there was a bylaw prohibiting chickens in the city, but felt that if we were responsible to both the hens and our neighbors, their benefits would far outweigh their liabilities. For the last two years, we have been learning to love and care for The Girls, and have become passionate advocates of urban chicken-keeping. Sadly, someone recently complained about them. An Animal Control officer came to our door and told us we need to find them a new home, or pay $500 per day per chicken to keep them past the deadline. Now that they are no longer a secret, we have a chance to speak up for our urban hens."
Here is what they have given us, in return for a draft-free and well-bedded home, a roofed run, a bit of grain, and all the excess of house and garden.
Eggs, of course. Orange-yolked, large, and healthier by far than factory-farmed eggs (1/3 less cholesterol, twice the omega-3 fatty acids, 7 times the beta carotene). At the height of summer, each chicken lays an egg every day, identifiable by color and shape. Our children love to choose their favorite eggs. And, conveniently, The Girls lay these eggs without need of a noisy rooster.
Organic fertilizer. We bed our chickens with straw and dried leaves, and the combination of the high nitrogen chicken manure and high carbon leaves creates wonderful compost. We have three compost bins at the back of the yard, at different stages of completion, and are thus able to quickly process all the chicken bedding back into rich soil with a minimum of smell and mess.
Enjoyment. These Girls have personality. Each one is unique, and they often make us laugh with their antics. We have named them, of course. Blackie, Whitey, Greytie and Goldie. For a while they were instead Paul, John, George and Ringo. They draw the children into the back yard. Visitors, young and old, love them too. They have been picked up and hauled around since chick-hood, and are our pets just as much as a cat or dog.
We strongly believe that urban dwellers should have the right to responsibly keep chickens in their backyards. Not for agriculture, as such, but for sustainable, affordable, organic food. It is simple Home Economics. Backyard eggs and composted manure are worth their weight in gold. Chickens donʼt bark, bite, jump over fences and poop in other peoples yards. If the city can accommodate dogs and cats and create bylaws for their responsible management, surely it can also accommodate chickens. The refusal to do so is simply anti-rural, and such an illogical division of rural and urban is outdated and unhelpful.
City of Edmonton, when you speak of greening the city, put your money where your mouth is and change this archaic bylaw. People of Edmonton, if you support the right to responsibly keep chickens, please phone or write your Councillor, the Mayor, and the incoming members of City Council. Let your voice be heard! Let the Birds be heard!"
We can see the ground here in Edmonton (in places), and that has some people thinking of eggs hatching and of chickens clucking. The City has not changed its position with respect to backyard hens, but if you want to learn more about whether backyard hens are for you, should Edmonton decide to allow them, a couple of fairly local groups are offering courses. It has always been a goal of River City Chickens Collective to offer this type of thing, but that will have to wait until the City is further down the road in terms of legalizing backyard hens.
Offered by Shovel and Fork