Maybe you grew up with chickens, maybe you didn’t. If you did, you understand their importance and probably don’t need any convincing. But if you’ve never had pet chickens, you’re probably wondering why you would want to find out if your city allows them, and petition for them if they aren’t already permitted.
Great question and the answer can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it, but here’s the bottom line: recent interruptions in our supply chain have led to shortages of all kinds, including food. Notably, during the start and height of the Covid crisis, eggs were among those hard-to-find food items.
Eggs are a kitchen staple. Run out of eggs and you run out of many highly versatile recipes that are also highly nutritious. In a rapidly changing world where our food supply hinges on unstable politics, it makes sense to secure a simple food source right in your backyard. So, if you’re curious, keep reading to learn some of the top benefits of owning pet chickens and how to petition your city to allow them.
Benefits of Pet Chickens
There are some obvious and some less obvious benefits to owning pet chickens. The obvious benefits include a fresh egg supply. Did you know the eggs you buy in the grocery store can be anywhere from one to two months old before they even reach you? By that point, you’ve lost all optimal nutrition (which is why eggs are so hotly debated as being bad for cholesterol, but that’s a topic for another day). Pet chickens also create a great supply of garden fertilizer through their manure, and are a natural alternative to composting—chickens are omnivores!
Chickens also have quirky personalities. They can recognize human faces, learn their names, and even do a few tricks. Like other pets, these feathered friends can be joyful companions that encourage outdoor time, which is proven to boost your mood as well.
Talk about a pet with benefits!
Read More: 5 BENEFITS OF RAISING BACKYARD CHICKENS
Step One: Petition
Okay, so now you want pet chickens, but maybe your city doesn’t allow them. Traditionally, “pet chickens” aren’t how most people think of this classic farm animal. Be prepared to meet some resistance, and it’s worth doing a little extra research to dismantle the arguments that might come your way.
The first thing you’ll want to do is organize a petition. Print up copies of a simple form for city residents to sign and print their names, and write their street addresses. You can make one yourself or find one online. Organize some friends to help you make the rounds in several neighborhoods to get signatures in support of pet chickens. A few basic tips:
- Be sure to cover different neighborhoods to show that the support is citywide, and not just isolated to your immediate area.
- Aim for at least 100 signatures. If you live in a densely populated city, more signatures would be a better representation of the population.
- Stick to privately owned single-family residences. Despite city ordinances, apartments and similar multi-family residences make their own rules about pets, so single-family residences will have more impact.
- Make a copy of your finished petition and keep the original. That’s your hard work and proof should the city misplace your petition at any time.
Read More: 25 Unique Proposal Ideas
Step Two: City Council
The next step is taking your petition to the city council. You’ll need to inquire with your city when their council meetings are held and how to present your petition. Likely they will have time allotted for citizens to speak about topics, and this is when you’ll take the podium. This step has two key components you’ll want to consider: a written proposal and your verbal presentation.
The written proposal is a document you organize outlining your exact request, and you’ll want to print a copy for each member of the council. It’s a good idea to list as many benefits of owning pet chickens as you can, and back it up with research. You can also address potential concerns, such as noise and smell. (These are two of the biggest concerns cities seem to have regarding pet chickens, and are easily addressed by prohibiting roosters, as hens make less noise than the average dog, and noting that a well-designed coop breathes and does not smell unless it’s desperately derelict.)
Essentially, the written proposal is your space to say as much as you’d like about your petition.
The verbal presentation should be more concise. You’ll need to consider your audience and the setting. Be professional and polite, but firm. Highlight three or five key points and keep your overall presentation to five minutes or less. You’ll turn over your written proposal before you speak, so the council has your notes and all of your research. Think of your presentation as a quick summary of what you are asking for and the key points. It’s that simple.
Read More: Stylish Chicken Coops for Backyard Chickens
Step Three: Planning Committee
After the council, your proposal will make its way to the city’s planning committee. You’ll want to reach out to your city for their timeline, and attend the planning committee when they review your proposal. Patience is key here. This step can take a few weeks to a few months. Continue calling and emailing your city representatives to politely inquire when your proposal will be on the agenda. When pet chickens are up for discussion, be prepared to defend your arguments and make concessions.
The planning committee reviews topics presented to the council to determine if they should be passed for further consideration. Their opinion matters, but it is not the final say. The planning committee may propose regulations you disagree with. Remember, you need the committee to pass your proposal for its next review, so choose your battles carefully and negotiate where needed. You’ll have one more opportunity to appeal to the council to revise the final proposed ordinance before it passes.
Step 4: City Council, Again
The final step after the planning committee passes your proposal for review is to attend the subsequent city council meeting to hear the final vote. After the newly proposed ordinance is read aloud, you’ll have a chance to speak again on the subject. This is the time to voice any remaining concerns about possible restrictions, intrusive inspections, or otherwise excessive expectations that sometimes make their way into the final proposal. Again, keep it brief, five minutes or less. And always be respectful and polite, but argue for what you feel is reasonable for people to benefit from this ordinance.
Read More: A Beginner’s Guide to Homesteading
With some luck and lots of preparation, your city will vote yes on your petition and you’ll be on your way to owning pet chickens. Remember, this is just an outline of what to expect. Check with your city for their process and guidelines and be sure to follow them. Your council may have wildly different views on the idea of pet chickens, but they respect citizens who respect and follow the proper process and protocol, so use that to your advantage. Now is the perfect time to solicit your city for the ability to have a little piece of backyard sustainability, and pet chickens have a lot to offer.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out Daily Mom’s Pets Section for more pet chicken advice, tips, and tricks.
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