Due in part to isolating within our home spaces because of the Covid-19 pandemic, more people are utilizing the green space they have to grow their own food. And as we have become more conscious about access to the global food supply many people are also flocking to the idea of raising their own chickens.
Not only do chickens have very individual personalities which can make them wonderful pets, having backyard hens can lighten the load imposed by industrial food producers, strengthen a connection to the land as well as the animal- human bond and if nothing else, provide tasty eggs for your breakfast needs.
Having the right to raise your own chickens in your own backyard is still not available for everyone. But all who fight for the cause base their case on both the Canadian Charter of Rights and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights “Right to Food” provisions.
There are some misconceptions about the main arguments against raising backyard chickens. Some people argue that chickens are “noisy”. Chickens are not noisy unless there is a rooster amongst them. Most communities (like Saugeen Shores) do not allow that.
Many people argue that they spread diseases such as the avian flu but this is also unfounded. The real source of this type of spread is due to factory farming where chickens are in cramped living conditions making their stress levels increase thereby compromising their immune systems making them very susceptible to disease. Free ranging backyard chickens where there are only 5 allowed per household (like in Saugeen Shores), chickens have room to stretch, peck, scratch and roost, stress free thus creating healthy, disease free chickens and eggs.
Another argument is the issue of cleanliness. People passionate about raising chickens would need to ensure a steady and secured food supply. Another bonus about cleanliness related to chickens is that chicken feed can also be supplemented with many weeds from the garden like clover, plantain and dandelion among others. Furthermore, regular cleaning and disinfecting of the coop and water/food containers and creative compost solutions for chicken waste takes care of any odor issues.
Here, in Saugeen Shores, Chicken By-Law 42-2017 allows residential properties to set up their own little egg factory or house their pet hens in their backyard if they meet certain requirements. In general, only 5 hens are permitted and are to be located at the rear of the property. The property area must be at least 1000 square meters and must be 1.5 meters away from all property lines and at least 5 meters away from a dwelling. There are also coop and maintenance requirements as well as some prohibitions. Should you be interested in learning more please visit the Saugeen Shores website and another helpful resource for those interested in some basic information on keeping chickens can be found at torontochickens.com.