Chickens make great friends: they don’t stink any more than your dog and they provide lots of good food.
So why not allow people to keep a few in their backyards, the Otter 4-H Llama club asked Maple Ridge city council recently.
Janelle and Charlotte Pomeroy, Blythe Parry and Amanda Shaw spoke to council after two members of their club had to get rid of their chickens.
The members had to give up their birds over the past two years after receiving letters from the bylaws department. The city currently only allows chickens on one-acre lots.
“People who don’t have chickens don’t realize that these chickens have personalities. It’s like giving your pets away,” explained Pascalle Shaw, Amanda’s mother.
The delegation also addressed noise and admitted that hens do “cockle doodle do.” But it’s the roosters that really squawk, early and often.
However, roosters aren’t needed when keeping hens, Shaw explained, because the birds will lay eggs anyways.
A chicken coop only needs to be a few metres square and there are portable chicken coops that are small and allow you to rotate it through your yard so they don’t wreck the grass.
The delegation pointed out that kids need experience keeping farm animals because it could lead to a future in agriculture.
“It allows young people to get involved in agriculture,” said Shaw.
The issue of rats was also addressed.
Rats aren’t drawn to chickens, but to the feed that’s left lying around, and if you remove any surplus before dark, rats won’t be around, council heard.
“Maple Ridge allows dogs, cats, and rabbits, but the one animal that is not allowed is the one that allows us to feed ourselves,” the girls told council.
“Chickens make far less noise than a barking dog, a howling tom cat and significantly less noise than a group of five-year-olds playing in the yard.”
A report is to go to council sometime this year, after the club makes the presentation to the agricultural advisory committee.
Pitt Meadows has decided not to allow backyard chickens after a pilot program, but Surrey and North Vancouver allow them.