Friday, December 2, 2011

Our backyard chickens



We never imagined having chickens until we came to Durham.  The opportunity presented itself by having a large backyard and an initiative by Durham citizens to allow chickens within city limits.  After the city council voted ‘yes’ it didn’t take long and we acquired our ‘limited agricultural permit’. 

The regulations for raising backyard chickens are meant to protect chickens from harm and provide them with enough space to live happily.  Enough space in the coop and run (outside area) is needed based on the number of chickens one plans to have.  The gaps in the fencing should be narrow and the fence should be buried to keep critters from digging underneath.  Avery netting is also necessary to keep chickens in (they can fly!) and to keep hawks and other animals from coming in from above. 

A couple rules were included to provide a buffer between your chickens and your neighbors.  The coop needs to be at least 15 feet from the property line and the run needs to be at least 5 feet away. 

The regulations are also meant to provide neighbors with the opportunity to oppose having chickens next door.  Unfortunately, this aspect of the regulations has dissuaded some from going through the process, but in reality, there is little to worry about.  Adjacent property owners must be informed in writing of your intent to have chickens and they can oppose your plan.  However, a valid argument must be provided by the opponent in the case of a hearing.  Most likely, the ruling will be in favor of the permit applicant.  Of course, one wants to be in good terms with neighbors and fresh eggs every once in a while might convince them that chickens are okay.

Our girls not only provide us with delicious eggs, but also help clean up kitchen scraps and fertilize our garden.  With a little training, our chicks now share the yard with our two playful dogs.  It is so much fun to watch the chickens run-fly across the yard in their dinosaur-ish way, dust bathe, scratch for bugs, or even catch a garden snake.  They are smarter than one would think and they reward you in so many ways. 

Jana & Mike



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