When Jan Brett visited Fort Collins in June she talked about one of her true loves in life: raising chickens. In case you didn’t know, the bestselling author-illustrator is also a chicken fanatic. In fact, as a kid she trained her chickens to ride on her handlebars. Over the years, Jan has acquired a number of different breeds and now raises more than 60 chickens on her farm in Massachusetts. Jan and her chickens also compete in shows and give demonstrations to local 4-H clubs.
Jan’s chicken fascination inspired me to look into what it would take for someone living within the Fort Collins city limits to raise their own chickens. Turns out, there are quite a few rules and regulations that apply to chicken rearing.
Fort Collins Chicken Rules
For a full list of rules and regulations surround the owning of chickens in Fort Collins visit: http://bit.ly/1DTgj3u.
- Must obtain a permit from the Larimer County Humane Society, and get a sight inspection by the Humane Society. In other words, you can’t impulse buy an adorable baby chicken when shopping at Jax for dog food.
- No roosters. You might like waking up at 5 a.m., but your neighbor does not.
- All adults living on your property must consent in writing to owning chickens. So if your wife says no……
- You must have a covered, “predator-resistant” poultry house to keep your chicks safe from big animals with sharp teeth and a taste for KFC.
Yes, but how many can I own?
- Lots less than ½ acre in size: up to 8 chickens
- Lots ½ acre to 1 acre in size: up to 12 chickens
- Lots more than 1 acre in size: up to 6 additional chickens may be kept for every additional ½ acre. But if you want more than 12 chickens, you must notify your neighbors in writing prior to obtaining a permit.
Caring for Chickens
Once you’ve passed the sight inspection and have your chicken permit in hand, you can finally go buy chickens.
Yay, chicken shopping!
Jan Brett’s prizewinning poultry are Polish Chickens. Now, you can go buy your own puff-topped Polish chicks, but they are not your typical backyard chicken breed. And you certainly won’t find them in your local ranch and home store. Some more common breeds include the Plymouth Rock, the Rhode Island Red, the Leghorn, the Jersey Giant, and the Ameracaunas. Learn more about these breeds here: http://bit.ly/1M0iQRi.
There’s a lot that goes into raising chickens. You have to learn about chicken coops, feed, the egg laying process, etc. Here are some books from the library that might help you on your journey to becoming a chicken expert.
Reinventing the chicken coop: 14 original designs with step-by-step building instructions by Kevin McElroy and Matthew Wolpe.
This is another offering from Storey Publishing that offers step-by-step instructions for building chicken coops, including a modern log cabin, a coopsicle, and a coop on the roof.
The art of the chicken coop by Chris Gleason is equally as inventive.
Feeding and Care
Storey’s guide to raising chickens: care, feeding, facilities by Gail Damerow
Storey Publishing has been around since the “back to the land” movement in the 1970’s. Their guide books are updated regularly and provide practical advice for new or experienced urban farmers. The library carries a variety of Storey Publishing’s books and e-books.
Fresh eggs daily: raising happy, healthy chickens – naturally by Lisa Steele
Steele provides successful tips for “going natural” and avoiding the common ailments that plague so many backyard flocks. Her book is loaded with fun DIY projects and recipes to enhance your chickens’ quality of life, boost their immune systems and keep them healthy.
More information than you could ever need on chickens, gardens, and homesteads
The title alone should convince you to pick up this book. A top blogger for country living, Rural Mom, shows us the (actually very easy) way to live a sustainable lifestyle without making ourselves crazy in the process.
No further description needed.
This Isn’t for Me
That’s okay, I don’t think I’m cut out for chicken raising either (we’ll leave that to Jan). For those you, who like me, want to experience backyard chickens from a safe distance, I suggest:
Chickens in the road: an adventure in ordinary splendor by Suzanne McMinn.
Accompanied by hilarious anecdotes and delicious recipes, the founder of the popular blog chickensintheroad.com shares her 40-something coming-of-age story during which she, along with her three children, started a new life in rural West Virginia to connect to the earth and her family roots.