Thinking Chickens

Chickens have been on my mind a lot lately; specifically, the ability to raise chickens. Right now the Whitehorse animal by-law doesn’t allow poultry to be raised in other than country residential areas. So I sent a note off to Mayor and Council and almost immediately got a reply back from the Mayor, saying I posed an interesting question and she was sending my letter to Administration to do some background research. Below is part of my email. Once you’ve read it, I’d be interested in your thoughts: should people be allowed to raise chickens in Whitehorse? 

Hello. I am writing to you with a question about the city’s animal by-law. Currently the by-law limits the keeping of chickens to those living in country residential areas. In light of such important issues as sustainability, self-sufficiency and locally grown food, I’m wondering if there is any appetite to re-visit this section of the by-law.

I have a large back yard and am interested in raising up to six chickens (no roosters). My neighbours on both sides of me are very supportive of this; in fact one of the neighbours is also interested in raising a few chickens. I believe there is a growing desire among Whitehorse citizens to find ways of decreasing our carbon footprint and increasing options for organic, locally grown food. I believe current mega-farming practices are proving to be unsustainable in the long term, and small scale agriculture, including urban gardens and backyard poultry raising, is part of a critical shift that needs to take place if we are to ensure our food is safe, healthy, and raised in a way that doesn’t rape the environment.

Certainly there are many major cities in North America that allow homeowners to keep a small number of chickens, including Vancouver, Victoria, London (Ontario), Niagra Falls (Ontario), New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Houston and San Francisco. One example closer to home is Nelson, B.C.

Please advise as to whether this is something you would be willing to entertain. By the way, I do believe that before anyone should be allowed to raise chickens, they should be required to take some kind of animal husbandry course to ensure proper care of the birds. They must also have, of course, sufficient square footage to keep their chickens.

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4 thoughts on “Thinking Chickens

  1. I too think this is a great idea. It makes much better use of your land/garden than just having something green (or white) to look at outside the windows. This way, you could feed yourself and possibly a few neighbours at the same time.

    I think your letter is clear and concise and puts a good case to the local government. Now let’s see what you get back.

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  2. I keep asking my husband to let me have chickens, but so far he is a no-go on the idea. He thinks my ideas lead to more work for him 🙂
    Hopefully I will get him to break down eventually. I grew up on farms in northern BC and think having chickens in your backyard is the way to go! Make sure to update the blog with any replies you get from town. I have heard that here in Faro you are allowed 3 chickens, but I have no looking into that formally.

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  3. I love this! I’ve thought about chickens, too. Maybe we should write the city a letter, as well!

    I have a friend in Germany whose mom kept a handful of chickens in their backyard. She cooked some of the eggs for me once and called them “eggs from happy chickens”, which I think is the term they use generally for free-run chickens. 🙂 But she also used the eggs for art; she was quite well-known around the state for her painted eggshells. Ever since that time I’ve thought it would be neat to have chickens. Even though I really don’t like birds as “pets” in general!

    I subscribed to Martha Stewart Living for about a year, and one of the first issues had an article about heritage chickens. Wouldn’t it be fun to have “old-fashioned” chickens that not many people raise anymore? But whoa, I’m just getting really crazy now!

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