No, a hen will lay eggs regardless--they just won't be fertile eggs.They
still have the same nutritional value as fertilized eggs. Most of
the eggs you buy in the store are unfertilized.
White Wyandotte hen in her nesting box, waits for
some privacy before laying her egg.
That will depend on the caretaker. Just like any other pet or animal,
they need care--cleaning out the dirty bedding in the coop, keeping
it dry and having a clean/dry area of sand or dirt for the birds
to take dust bathes in. These practices will all help to keep your
birds happy, healthy and odor free.
It is food that attracts rodents, not the birds. If you have wild
bird feeders in your back yard, you run the same risk. Keep all
feed in metal garbage cans, with secure lids. Feed birds in small
doses, so as not to have a large amount of food left over. If you
feed your birds scraps/ protein, make sure it is eaten and not left
in the bedding.
Ask any child "What does a rooster say?" and they will
throw their head back and give you all they've got! But the hens,
they are a different story. They usually make a soft, contented
clucking sound--until they lay an egg. Then they get very excited
and proud and will squawk for a few moments and then settle back
down. They do not make a ruckus in the morning like their male counterparts
and they are fast asleep in their coop by the time the sun goes
down. Unlike the neighborhood dogs or cats!
Up to 4 domestic fowl allowed per single-family
Poultry shall be kept within a secure enclosure and not
allowed to run free
Enclosures shall be located no closer than 25' from nearest
A $10 permit*
is required (per household), to be renewed annually
permit fee to: City Treasurer, 210 Martin Luther King, Jr.
Read the City
of Madison ordinances (type
in "chickens" in the search box)
New legislation has been passed
regarding premises registration. What does this mean? It means that
registrations will be required for anyone housing livestock, including
poultry, regardless of number of animals as of November 1st, 2005.
You can get more information at http://www.wiid.org
Christine Heinrichs of Madison,
Wisconsin, has written a book on Raising Chickens. She has allowed
us to share her chapter on legal and zoning issues, with chickens.
To read, go to:
"Chapter 14 Legal Aspects"
March 19, 2009
One of the disadvantages of our increasingly urbanized society is our
disconnectedness from nature. The farm and field are considered
separate, alien; even primitive. Concrete is rapidly replacing
prairies, a walk in the woods is a novelty and the sight and sound of
chickens scratching in the dirt is forgotten.
Madison, Wisconsin is part of the increasing number of cities around
the country that have passed ordinances allowing people to keep
chickens in their backyards. If you are interested in keeping backyard
chickens but your city doesn't allow it, or has no ordinance regarding
backyard poultry whatsoever, there are things you can do to change the
law. And if trying to get an ordinance passed for backyard chickens
seems impossible, and you have no idea where to start, know that there
ARE things you can do. Here are some tips for getting started.
You aren't going to get anywhere by marching right to the city council
building. Start by talking to neighbors and letting them know of your
plans. If people are skeptical or critical of the idea of chickens,
this is an opportunity to educate them and peacefully resolve any
conflicts that could arise later. In Madison, Alicia Rheal and Bryan
Whiting, who became key figures in the city's backyard chicken
movement, addressed their neighborhood organization and wrote an
article for the neighborhood newspaper. Most neighborhoods have
organizations and councils, so at the next neighborhood meeting, bring
up your plans for backyard chickens. Again, this gives you a chance to
get feedback from others and to answer questions.
Be as organized as possible. You won't get far if you do this on your
own. There will be city officials who have never heard of a backyard
chicken ordinance, so its up to you to do the research and gather your
facts. Although Alicia Rheal contacted former Madison alderman Matt
Sloan, who was supportive of the movement, it was the city residents
who did most of the organization and research. It doesn't hurt to
contact city officials to see what their opinions are, but know that
you and other city residents will be doing most of the work. So get
together and start brainstorming! Hopefully you got some positive
feedback from neighbors or other people around the city who also want
chickens. Get everyone together and form a group. Start a blog to keep
in touch, and hold meetings. Think about what you need to do to
present a strong argument for backyard chickens to city officials. Is
your city more conservative or liberal? Do you have a sense of what
city residents in general would think of backyard chickens? What might
the city council think of this? Consider these questions to determine
the best way to present this movement to your city.
The research you do will keep your backyard chicken movement afloat.
Find out everything you can about domestic chickens and raising them
in cities. Research everything you can find about questions and
concerns people may have, such as disease, pests, noise and smell. You
know hens are pretty quiet animals, that roosters are the ones that
make noise. But not everyone knows that! And a coop that is kept clean
and tidy will not be a hotbed for disease and avian bird flu. Madison
residents got in contact with the University of Wisconsin-Madison
health department, and got together with Mark Cook of the UW poultry
extension. Mark Cook was supportive of the backyard chicken movement
and even wrote a letter to the city, sharing his expertise on domestic
poultry. Even if you don't have the support of an expert in the field,
at least get the facts from them. This will be useful when you are
presenting all this to the city. The more information you can get from
experts and trusted sources, the stronger your argument will be.
Educating the public about backyard chickens is a good way to gain
support, or at least dispel preconceptions people may have about
having chickens in backyards. People may be opposed to backyard
chickens purely from ignorance, or from negative past experiences.
Hold a public meeting about backyard chickens for people to come and
learn, or write an article for a local paper with the "myths and
facts" of urban poultry. As well as teaching citizens about backyard
chickens, it is also good to educate city officials. You can put
together all your research into an organized portfolio, or write a
detailed report, and send it to the city government. This is also a
good time to go to city council meetings and other local government
events that city residents can attend and present their causes to the
mayor, alderpersons or councilpersons. This gives lawmakers a chance
to see what you're after, and even if you have not gained any support
from a sympathetic official, you will show them that you are serious
about what you are doing.
This goes hand in hand with tip four. People will not be impressed if
you take on a know-it-all, holier-than-thou attitude. Be respectful
when presenting your case at all times, be it to the neighbors at the
neighborhood meeting or the mayor at the city council meeting. 'A lot
has to do with attitude', says Alicia Rheal. If you have a bad
attitude, people won't be as enthusiastic about supporting your
backyard chicken movement. In addition to being respectful it's also
important to be realistic. Though the city officials will be the ones
who write up the official ordinance, you can brainstorm possible
ordinance logistics with other people involved in the chicken
movement. But keep it within reason. If you go to the city council and
suggest an ordinance allowing up to eight chickens per home, lawmakers
will be skeptical and less likely to even consider an ordinance.
Propose ground rules that won't cause too much controversy. Keep it
within three to five chickens per backyard, and absolutely no roosters
or slaughtering in the city.
Your quest for a backyard chicken ordinance may be more or less
challenging depending on your city. Pre-existing laws for backyard
poultry vary, as do the viewpoints of lawmakers. Once you have done
all your research, organization and education, it's up to the city
officials to make the final decision. There is a lot of luck involved
as well. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right
time. One city official may be completely supportive of an ordinance
for chickens, the next may be absolutely opposed to the idea. If the
city whips up an ordinance and than votes against it, it will feel
like the end of the world. The city may have turned it down this time,
but you haven't done all that work for nothing. Analyze the situation
and try again. Make it known that you aren't going to give up. Keep
educating citizens and lawmakers, and continue building support for
your cause. You can do it. You will get there.
Ron Kean, UW Extension
Poultry Guy, has given us information on this topic:
There has been a great deal of news about avian
influenza recently. Stories have ranged from doomsday predictions
to those who say it is allbeing overblown. So, should you be concerned,
as a poultry owner or just as a human being?
Yes, you should be concerned. Will something
happen? Let's hope not, but it could be very bad.
Currently, there is an outbreak of highly pathogenic
avian influenza (HPAI) in Asia and Eastern Europe. This influenza
virus, which is of H5N1 type, is highly pathogenic to most domestic
birds, that is, it kills many of thosethat become infected. It
has also infected some people, and has killed about half of those
who are known to be infected. (H and N types refer to the specific
strain. There are several different types of avian influenza,and
they are identified by these H and N components. For more informationon
this, see web sites below.)
It is likely being spread by migratory birds,
which can carry the virus without showing symptoms. Fortunately,
this virus is currently not present in the United States.
If the virus comes to the U.S., it likely will be devastating
to thecommercial poultryindustry and hobbyists alike. It might
get here in migratory birds flying in, in birds smuggled in, or
in bird manure onsomeone's shoes, etc. The virus can remain stable
forfairly long periods in the environment.
The standard method for dealing with an outbreak
like this is to depopulate all birds within a certain range of
an outbreak. So, if it's found on a farm in Wisconsin, for example,
all birds within some distance of that farm would be euthanized.
If things are caught in time, and the virus does not spread, that
would be great. Unfortunately, this virus spreads easily from
bird to bird. Outbreaks in the past have taken some time and the
destruction of many birds before they were eliminated. There is
also the temptation to hide birds or take them from the area,
and this greatly increases the risk of spreading the disease.
As an example, an outbreak in Mexico in 1992 took more than 3
years to eradicate.
Export markets would immediately be closed so sales would decrease
drastically. Depending on the location of the outbreak, many birds
might have to be depopulated. Rare breeds and varieties might
be lost. Time and money spent euthanizing and destroying the birds
also adds up quickly. While you can't be infected with avian influenza
from eating properly cooked eggs or poultry products, many people
would stop buying these products out of fear. It would be very,
very expensive for the poultry industry.
Currently, most of the people who have been diagnosed with this
influenza (in Asia) have had direct contact with poultry. In many
cases, the people were either sleeping in the same building as
the birds, or living in very close proximity. The virus doesn't
seem to be easily transmitted from one human to another, if at
all. A big problem with the avian influenza virus, however, is
that it can mutate very easily. The concern is that it will mutate
into a contagious virus in humans. If that happens, then it can,
and most likely will, spread throughout the world very quickly.
This is what happened in 1918, when there was a global outbreak.
That outbreak killed an estimated 40 to 50 million people. Even
with an improved health care system, there is still the potential
for a huge loss of life world-wide.
What is our government doing, you may ask? Currently
in the U.S., flocks are being monitored for signs of avian influenza.
Customs and immigration officials are watching closely for anyone
attempting to smuggle birds into the country, or for anyone who
has recently been in contact with poultry in countries with known
outbreaks. Vaccines for the birds could be developed, but they
aren't available at this time, and since this virus mutates so
often, any vaccine that is made now might not be protective in
the future. It would also take quite some time to produce enough
vaccines to combat a widespread outbreak.
So, should you as a poultry grower, be concerned?
The answer is yes, although I wouldn't suggest you panic or get
rid of your birds because of this. Good biosecurity measures are
important to protect your flock. Don't allow your birds to mingle
with wild birds. Don't borrow other people's equipment. Clean
your shoes and clothes if you have contact with other people's
birds. If you purchase birds, or if you bring your own birds home
after a show or swap meet, keep those birds isolated from your
regular flock for at least 2 weeks, while watching for any signs
of illness in the quarantined birds. Tend to your home flock before
taking care of the new or returning birds.
Common-sense principles are very important to
help prevent the spread of this disease as well as other poultry
diseases, and should always be followed. The potential for a serious
AI problem just emphasizes the importance of biosecurity.
Again, it's important to note that one cannot
be infected with AI by eating
cooked poultry products or eggs.
For more information, visit the websites of
and the CDC.
A typical hen will start to lay eggs at about 6 months of age. The
eggs will start out small, then get increasingly larger. During
the first year of laying, the hen (if she is a good egg producer)
will lay one egg, almost every day. The birds will then go through
a "molt" in the late fall/ winter months and stop laying.
they will start again in the early spring. You can encourage egg
laying through the colder months by keeping a light on, inside the
chicken coop. As the birds get older, they will start to lay fewer
and fewer eggs. I had a chicken that was at least 5 years old, and
she would give me 1 or 2 really big eggs a week.
Well I guess that depends on who you talk to--Most farmers who are
in the egg producing business will say 2 years. Those who are in
the meat producing business will say 6 months--Those who keep birds
as pets (with names) or who are not interested in maximum production
of eggs, will find that chickens can live up to 8 or 10 years. It
is your choice whether you want to keep a bird that long, and if
not, there are local farmers willing to take in older birds (or
there is always the "stew pot").
Poultry Coops can fit into just about any size backyard. For 4 hens,
a 3'x4' Coop plus a "run" (a place for them to scratch
around) that is roughly 3'x8' is more than adequate. Most commercial
birds are placed in cages (6-8 to a cage) where they can not turn
around. You, on the other hand, will have very happy birds. "Chicken
Tractors" are another option. They are portable coops that
can be moved over the yard or garden plots, to give birds fresh
bugs and greens--this also is a great way to mow the lawn!
Chicken manure is high in nitrogen, so it is considered "hot".
It will need to be composted before putting it directly onto your
garden. once it has broken down, it then becomes perfect food for
Polyphemus moth rests on the outside of
the coop. Good thing! If it were on the inside, it would make a
tasty snack for one of the hens.
They will eat just about anything! There are commercial poultry
foods available at local feed stores, or you can make your own mix.
People feed chickens corn, oats, wheat, rye, soy, fresh greens from
the garden (weeds as well), table scraps (they love spaghetti!),
worms and other bugs. The local grocery stores and markets often
have vegetable scraps available. Variety is the key to good health,
just like us!
They can live quite happily, through the coldest winter, if they
have an insulated coop or a light inside their coop. The smaller
the coop, the easier it is for them to keep it warm. Birds can get
frostbite. Birds with large combs tend to be more susceptible. Also,
some breeds are just hardier than others.
Cherrie Nolden has several suggestions:
(I'm sure other people have other good
ideas but these are all things we have used successfully)
get a small heated dog
use a bird bath heater
in a dish
use a tough rubber 2qt
feed pan. Stomp the ice out twice a day or put the bird bath heater
make your own small
heater base with some heat tape and an old pot
wrap heating tape around
the lid of a metal water font
shine a heat lamp on
the water container
The key to safe chickens is a sturdy, impenetrable coop. Raccoons
should be more of a concern, they are such clever, determined critters.
.Make sure the structure is secure (enclosed top, fencing buried
below ground under the sides, secure latches on doors or other entryways),
keep all birds locked in at night, letting them out into the run
or "tractor" only during the day. My cats have always
been interested in the birds, but with a healthy respect for them--Dogs
will chase the birds, if they are left to roam. If you let your
birds out, please keep them under supervision at all times.