Saturday, December 26, 2009

Town of Garner went on a Coop Tour

One Council member, members of the planning department and staff, and a member of the Greenbrier HOA board went on an informal coop tour in downtown Raleigh on Monday, December 14. The purpose of the tour was to investigate setbacks and see some examples of coops. [picture shows a coop 2-3 blocks from the Governor's Mansion at a historic home in Raleigh]

Items for the new ordinance!

Ok here's your sneak peek at the items being considered for the new Garner chicken ordinance:

These are very likely:
- up to 10 hens (no roosters)
- only allowed in side and back yards
- personal use only - non-commercial

Possible additions:
- special permit similar to dog permit which is a one-time $25 permit
- coops to follow setback restrictions (10 ft side and 5ft rear), and limited to 8-10 ft tall
- not allowed in multi-family and attached unit dwellings [This item would not be necessary if the setbacks were in place]

Additions requested by the Greenbrier HOA and not supported by Friends of Hens:
- 100% screening from neighbors with solid wood fencing around hens and/or shrubs
- Special permit only given after Garner citizen provided written permission from their property's HOA Organization

Saturday, November 21, 2009


The two members of the Garner Law and Finance committee will draft a new ordinance December 3rd. Then there will be a public comment period and an official vote. We hope to have this passed in time to get baby chicks in the spring!

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

We had a good turn out for the class, including local tv news and the Garner Citizen. If you'd like to see some of the slides, they are available now.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Date scheduled with Town Council!

Calling all Friends of Hens in and near Garner! I will be presenting our case to the Garner Mayor and Town Council on Tuesday September 29, 2009 at 6PM. This is not a meeting, but a work session, so that will allow us enough time to go through the facts and answer questions. We need everyone to come and show their support!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beginner Chicken Keeping class

We will have a beginner chicken keeping class (with live chickens!) at the Garner Library (which is officially the Wake County Southeast Regional Library) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 at 7:00. Registration with the library is required.

Garner Library
908 7th Ave
Garner NC
(919) 662-2250

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mailing List

Please email to join our mailing list. I can give you updates regarding the effort to legalize chickens (hens!) in Garner, NC. We need your support!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Town Council

I will be presenting to a future town council meeting when they review this subject. Look for a date in September.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Petition is up! Please sign!

The Garner Chickens petition is online now. Hard copies will be distributed as well. Please sign and encourage your friends and neighbors to as well.

FAQs about keeping pet hens in the town

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Don't you need a rooster for eggs?
A: No, you don't. Hens lay eggs without a rooster. The eggs you buy at the store are unfertilized and no rooster is around those hens. You only need a rooster to hatch chicks. Roosters will NOT BE ALLOWED in Garner.

Q: Are chickens loud?
A: Roosters are loud, and they will not be permitted. Hens are, on average, far quieter than most dogs, parrots, or macaws. They generally make a soft chuckle or cluck. Loud clucking rated at about 70 decibels, while the average conversation would be 60 decibels. Occasionally, when they are showing off an egg they've just laid, their clucking is slightly louder. Normal noises are not audible past 25', the loudest noises at about 50'.

Q: What about smell?
A: Unlike the farm chickens many of us are familiar with, whose coops generally aren't cleaned more than once or twice a year, suburban pet chickens are treated like any other pet. The chicken coop is cleaned several times per week, or even daily. The amount of chicken manure produced by six hens is roughly equivalent to the dog droppings produced by a medium-large dog. And, unlike dog or cat poop (health hazards), chicken manure can be easily composted into fabulous garden fertilizer!

Q: Aren't chicken coops an eyesore?
A: Suburban chicken owners, unlike rural folks with acreage, have their chicken's enclosures in their backyard living space. Thus, they tend to be well-built, well-maintained, pretty structures. Check out a local triangle business, for an example.

Q: What about predators or pests?
A: Since the ordinance stipulates that the hens must be in a completely enclosed, predator-proof enclosure, and locked in a henhouse at night, the hens will not attract predators any more than a rabbit in a backyard hutch.

Q: Will chickens be running wild in neighborhoods?
A: No. The drafted amendment includes the stipulation that the hens must be kept in a completely enclosed pen at all times unless they are in a securely fenced yard with supervision.

Q: What about diseases like Avian Flu?
A: Despite some sensational news stories that may lead us to believe otherwise, Avian Flu of the type that is contagious to humans has not been found in North America. Any type of avian influenza is spread by contact with the contaminated feces of other birds, primarily migratory waterfowl. Unlike rural farm birds, which "free range" and might, for example, drink from a pond shared with Canada Geese, "backyard hens" in Garner will be kept in an enclosed pen with no contact with the migratory birds. In addition, should avian flu ever reach here, it would more likely spread in situations where birds are maintained in unsanitary conditions, such as the large commercial "factory farms" where chickens are crammed together in filthy cages.... not where chickens are kept as pets in well-maintained coops cleaned as regularly as any suburban pet.

Salmonella is the other primary concern associated with chicken and eggs. Again, this is an issue of cleanliness and chickens kept as pets are unlikely to cause any problems. In fact, Consumer Reports magazine reports that 71% of all supermarket chicken and eggs are contaminated with salmonella: eating your own backyard eggs, where you have control over the sanitation, significantly reduces your chance of exposure. In terms of exposure from pets, chickens are no more likely to carry it than parakeets, and pet reptiles are far more likely culprits. Good hand-washing practices are always important after handling animals.

Chickens, unlike cats and dogs, which are prime vectors for rabies and tick-borne diseases, actually keep your yard healthier by eating ticks and other insects.

Q: How many chickens are we talking about here?
A: The ordinance will limit the number to 20 or less, although most people will only choose to have 4-6, which will supply a family of four with enough eggs for personal use, and to sometimes share with neighbors. Hens will produce eggs from age 6 months to about 6 years depending on their variety. They will live for another 2-4 years after that, so a family would usually desire to add to their flock at that time to allow for continued egg production.

Q: What's this about an "Urban Chicken" movement?
A: In the last 5 or so years, more communities have been adjusting their zoning laws to allow chickens to be kept as pets in urban and suburban areas. As part of the growing awareness in this country of living “green" more people are interested in growing at least some of their own food in kitchen gardens, and in raising a few hens for eggs. The "movement" has spread across the country as people realize that owning a few hens, kept as suburban pets in pretty garden coops, is a good idea. Some people want organic eggs and garden compost, others are concerned about food security, others want to "eat local" to save resources, and others wish to enjoy the lovely, fun pets hens can be.

Q: Aren't chickens mean?
A: Just like any animal, it's all in the upbringing. If you took a bunch of parrots, cockatiels, kittens or puppies and stuck them in a pen with minimal human contact beyond food and water, they probably wouldn't be very good pets. Just like these animals, chickens that are hand-raised from chicks can be wonderful pets. They come when they are called, enjoy being held and are beautiful and even affectionate pets. Check out the links for websites such as "My Pet Chicken" and "City Chickens" for more information.