Category Archives: Chicken Keeping

Pensacola Escambia Chicken Keepers (PECK)

10262094_425967327540019_7534539206004553765_nGot chickens? 

Pensacola Escambia Chicken Keepers (PECK) will hold its inaugural meeting this coming Monday evening, May 5th, at 6:30 pm at the downtown Pensacola branch of the West Florida Public Library located at 239 North Spring Street, Pensacola, FL 32502.

PECK will start out as a discussion group for backyard chicken keepers and will then decide as a group over the coming months what direction the organization should take. All chicken keepers are welcome to attend from experienced to beginner to curious. If you’ve never kept chickens, come find out how easy, interesting and fun it is! We will also be providing information about the rules and regulations for chicken keeping in both the City of Pensacola and Escambia County.

Pensacola has an organic gardening club, a beekeepers association, and now a chicken club. What could be better than that!

We hope to see you there!

New Chicken Ordinance Draft as of May 23, 2013

Only a few minutes ago, we received the following email from the county.

Good Morning,

This was an email from Ryan Ross and he asked for me to send it to all interested citizens. Attached is the draft ordinance and the information from the Extension Office. The Planning Board meeting will be June 3 at 8:30 AM.

Poultry Publications Ordinance Draft 4A

Thanks,

Kayla Meador
To All: I have attached a revised version of the ordinance establishing regulations for the non-commercial possession of live chickens on residential property.  I have also reviewed the materials supplied to me by our Extension Office (attached and highlighted).  Based on my review of these documents, I believe we still have two major unresolved issues:

1.  Number of chickens on a lot.  The current version of the ordinance establishes an eight-chicken limit on lots smaller than ¼ acre in size.  This is consistent with the City of Pensacola, which has established an eight-chicken limit on lots regardless of size.  During the last workshop, the Planning Board voiced its desire to establish a “sliding scale” based on UF Extension guidance.  I have reviewed the UF Extension materials, along with materials from extension offices in other states, and I was unable to locate guidance on the appropriate number of chickens that could be kept on an acre of land.  The general rule seems to be that a property owner should allocate 3-5 square feet of coop and open space per chicken.  I do not have the expertise to translate this into a workable scale.  Since I think any proposed scale would likely be legal, I will have to defer to the Planning Board, Planning Staff, Extension Staff, and the interested citizens on the number limitation that is appropriate for residential lots.  (I also reviewed ordinances in other Florida communities to see if there is a consensus; they appear to vary based on the needs of the individual community.  For example, while Pensacola has an eight-chicken limit per lot, Orlando has a three-chicken limit.  In contrast, Broward County authorizes up to 25 chickens per lot, provided that the chickens are kept in an enclosure at least 50 feet from the lot line.)

2.  Roosters on lot.  The Planning Board indicated that we should establish some flexibility in allowing roosters on a lot, particularly when the noise impacts will likely be minimal.  The UF Extension guidance does not address whether roosters should be allowed, but Michigan State Extension guidance advises that any backyard chicken ordinance should prohibit roosters.  Additionally, most of the Florida ordinances that I reviewed prohibit roosters.  I did locate one community, Pembroke Pines, that authorizes the possession of roosters, but only when such possession takes places no less than 100 yards from any inhabited dwelling other than the dwelling of the owner of the roosters.  Since this echoes the Planning Board sentiment as I understand it, I incorporated the same language into the current version of the ordinance.

I encourage you to distribute this e-mail and the attachments to Mr. Tate and the interested citizens for their feedback.  I am available to discuss these issues if they would like.  Again, though, I think these are largely policy questions and not legal questions, and I do not have the subject matter knowledge to make a call regarding the appropriateness of any proposed numerical limitations.

Ryan E. Ross
Asst. County Attorney
Escambia County, FL

WEAR ABC 3 News: Escambia Commissioners look at changing residential chicken rules

WEAR ABC 3 News covered the County’s consideration to change the existing ordinances to allow backyard chicken keeping.

ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. — Escambia County commissioners are considering enacting some new rules that would allow people in residential areas to keep chickens in their back yards. An ordinance passed last year made it legal to do so in Pensacola. Channel Three’s Joe Douglass has the latest on the backyard chicken push – new at ten.

Is Buying Chicks for Easter a Good Idea?

It’s that time of year again:  The sun is shining more.  Flowers are beginning to bloom.  People are getting ready for Easter.  Baby animals are being born.

Baby chicks for sale are readily available.

Before the Easter Bunny decides to bring some cute, fuzzy chicks to your house, there are a few things to consider about those adorable, cheeping balls of fluff.

Chicks require special care and handling.

Chicks are not animals appropriate for most toddlers.  Puppies and kittens are able to wriggle, and even scratch or bite if they feel uncomfortable or threatened by children.   Chicks are pretty helpless and are fairly susceptible to sustaining internal injury if not properly handled.  

Anyone handling chicks should always thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water afterward—something that is sometimes difficult to achieve with young children.

Chicks also require frequent monitoring for unusual behaviors that can indicate illness.

 Chicks grow up—fast!

Just like puppies and kittens, chicks grow—and grow quickly.  They may be cute and fluffy and able to fit in a box in your bathroom today, but by the time they are five weeks old, some breeds may have more than tripled in size.  They are not-so-cute and fluffy any more.  And they are not content to stay inside all day, especially not in a box with a bunch of others.  If you end up with a cockerel (male adolescent chicken), he might just start crowing by the time he is eight weeks old. 

Chicks are a commitment for their lifetime.

Also like puppies and kittens, you need to think long term.   Most of the animals I have owned have lived between 13 and 17 years.  For some pet owners, my pets would have still been considered young.    Realize that a chicken can easily live 8-10 years, but a healthy, well-cared for backyard chicken can live up to 20 years!  

Chickens may not be legal in your area.

Just because a store or a farmer in your area may be selling chicks doesn’t make them legal where you live.  Don’t just take the word of a friend, either.  In some cities and counties, adjacent properties may have different sets of laws governing them because of things such as zoning.  Personally check the laws where you live before making a purchase AND check with the local animal control, code enforcement, or extension office.  They will be able to prove to you the legality of chickens in your area.

You might be wondering by now, “Why the negativity about chickens?”
It’s not negative.  It’s realistic.  Chicks can be a lot of fun, but their keeping needs to be seriously considered.

So how do you do it right?

Do your homework.

After making sure that you may legally own chickens, learn about different breeds to find what will best meet your family’s needs once they are grown.   Are you looking for a reliable egg-layer?   A docile companion?   Something with personality?   Each breed has unique characteristics, just like dogs or cats.  
You also need to know what equipment you will need.   You don’t usually buy a puppy without buying food, food and water dishes, a collar, a bed, and toys.  Chicks will need some kind of container and a heat source in which to keep safe and warm, as well as feeder, water container, starter feed, and disposable bedding.   When they are older and bigger, and are kept outside, they will need a safe shelter complete with roost and nesting areas; bedding; feed; feeder; and watering container, along with access to sunlight and dirt.  That’s just the beginning.

Know what you are getting.

Are you looking for girl chicks (pullets) only?  Then it is best to avoid buying your chicks “straight run.”  Buying straight run basically means that girls and boys are all put in together, and you don’t know what you’re going to get.  (General rule is that half will be boys and half will be girls—IF you’re lucky!)  Try to make sure the chicks have been “sexed;” that is, they have been separated according to gender.  It is possible for trained individuals to tell the difference even at a young age.

It is also a good idea to try to buy local, especially if you are looking for a specific breed.  You may end up paying a little more per chick, but chances are, the chick will be healthier and of better breeding than those at feed stores.  But make sure to ask the seller for your gender preference to see if he/she will honor it.

Ask for help if you need it.

If you have already purchased chicks and are reconsidering a little too late, DO NOT abandon your chickens!  Contact us for assistance.  We are passionate about chicken keeping and want what is best for families and for chickens.  We might be able to provide ideas on how to make chicken owning less overwhelming for you.  We also might be able to assist you in finding a home for unwanted chickens—especially the unexpected cockerels.

Backyard chicken keeping is a rewarding endeavor, but it takes dedication.  As with owning any other animal, you must be well acquainted with the needs of the animal and the responsibilities of ownership you will face.