Thursday, December 24, 2009

End of Year Report

CLUCK has been clucking along for about a half year now and its time for a status report.

3 • Number of online Sarasota CLUCK resources (BLOG • WEBPAGE • FACEBOOK GROUP)

3 • Minimum number of other groups that independently chose CLUCK for their chicken advocacy acronym

9 • Number of newspaper articles dealing with backyard chickens in Sarasota

24 • Number of CLUCK blog entries

40 • Percent of City Commissioners that wanted staff to work on backyard hen legalization

66 • Percent of City Commissioners needed to direct staff to work on legalizing backyard hens

116 • Number of local supporters on our email list

386 • Number of members in our FACEBOOK Group

665 • Number of times people have clicked on Sarasota CLUCK blog link on Sarasota Speaks

46,000 • Number of registered users on Backyard Chickens website

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Next meeting Weds Dec 16 Selby Library

We'll be meeting at the downtown Sarasota Selby Library this Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. We meet upstairs in a meeting room on the east side of the building. We'll review what's been happening, particularly the recent City Commission discussion, and discuss future strategy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Backyard Chicken Disease Risk in Perspective

A concerned citizen recently wrote to a Sarasota City Commissioner opposing chickens as pets and citing six diseases that might be transmitted from chickens to humans as a reason.

Certainly all citizens should be concerned about the possible transfer of diseases from pets, livestock and wild animals to humans. Awareness has been growing regarding the importance of hand-washing after contact with any animal, including animals such as reptiles and fish.

The diseases cited in the email were:

Avian Tuberculosis: A tuberculosis that affects poultry. Main risk is to immune compromised individuals. According to the International Parrot Society People with normally functioning immune systems have a high resistance to this infection. The bacteria are already in the environment due to shedding from wildlife. However, we do urge at risk individuals to take proper precautions and avoid contact or exposure.

Chlamydiosis causes pitt or parrot fever. According to IFAS In the U.S., chlamydiosis is a major problem with turkeys, pigeons, and psittacines. In Europe, the main avian species affected are ducks and geese. Some birds (turkeys) are extremely susceptible to chlamydiosis, while others (chickens) are more resistant.

Colibacillosis is caused by E. coli, of which there are many strains. According to IFAS: In most cases, symptomatic treatment (fluids, antidiarrheals) is all that is required. In more severe infections, antibiotics such as tetracycline and chloramphenicol may be necessary.

Histoplasmosis is a fungal disease. According to IFAS Most cases in humans are asymptomatic, but it can be a serious disease.

Cryptococcosis is another fungal disease. Again In people with a normal immune system, the lung (pulmonary) form of the infection may have no symptoms. In people with impaired immune systems, the cryptococcus organism may spread to the brain.

Cryptosporidiosis according to IFAS Cryptosporidiosis is caused by protozoa of the genus Cryptosporidium . There are three known species, C. baileyi , C. meleagridis and an unnamed species in quail. Cryptosporidiosis normally causes respiratory problems in chickens and turkeys. It can also cause gastroenteritis and diarrhea. In humans, it causes abdominal pain, nausea, and watery diarrhea lasting 3-4 days. In immunocompromised people, it can cause severe, persistent diarrhea with associated malabsorption of nutrients and weight loss.

In addition to the diseases the citizen mentioned , Salmonella is probably the most common disease spread by pets like chickens, reptiles and fish. The CDC is particularly cautious about children under three handling (playing with) baby chicks.

For specific advice from the CDC please see Health Risks Associated With Raising Chickens.

To put all these diseases in perspective, it is worth considering how the CDC summarizes the number of diseases that can be transmitted from animals to people.

Under birds, the CDC lists three diseases, already mentioned above:

Chlamydia psittaci Infection (psittacosis): A bacterial disease associated with pet birds, including parrots and parakeets. Recommendations and Reports MMWR.

Cryptococcus Infection (cryptococcosis): A fungal disease associated with wild-bird droppings, including those from pigeons.

Salmonella Infection (salmonellosis): A bacterial disease associated with many birds, especially chickens, baby chicks, and ducklings.

For dogs, far more diseases are listed : 15 and for cats: 14. Because dogs and cats are mammals, and probably because of their long association with people, we share more diseases with them.

Bottom line: If we were allowing people to have pets based on diseases, cats and dogs would be near the end of the list. But that doesn’t eliminate possible problems with chickens.

CLUCK supports proper sanitation for the health of both chickens and chicken keepers. Young children and people with compromised immune systems are the greatest at risk. Handwashing after contact with all animals is recommended for everyone and people at greater risk should probably consider respiratory masks. At the end of this entry you'll find the 12 steps the CDC recommends to minimize risk. Virtually all are simple common sense and hygiene.

Below, you can learn the names of dog-related diseases.

Brucella canis Infection (brucellosis): A bacterial disease rarely associated with dogs.

Campylobacter Infection (campylobacteriosis): A bacterial disease associated with dogs, cats, and farm animals.

Cryptosporidium Infection (cryptosporidiosis): A parasitic disease associated with dogs, especially puppies, cats, and farm animals.

Dipylidium Infection (tapeworm): A parasitic disease associated with dogs, cats and fleas.

Giardia Infection (giardiasis): A parasitic disease associated with various animals, including dogs and their environment (including water).

Hookworm Infection: A parasitic disease associated with dogs and cats and their environment.

Leishmania Infection (leishmaniasis): A parasitic disease associated with dogs and sand flies outside the United States.

Leptospira Infection (leptospirosis): A bacterial disease associated with wild and domestic animals, including dogs.

Lyme Disease: A bacterial disease that can affect dogs and ticks.

Q Fever (Coxiella burnetii): A bacterial disease occasionally associated with dogs.

Rabies: A viral disease associated with various animals, including dogs.

Ringworm: A fungal disease associated with dogs.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: A bacterial disease associated with dogs and ticks.

Roundworm: See Toxocara infection.

Salmonella Infection (salmonellosis): A bacterial disease associated with various animals including dogs.

Tapeworm (flea tapeworm): See Dipylidium Infection.

Toxocara Infection (toxocariasis, roundworm): A parasitic disease associated with dogs and cats and their environment.

The following list deals with diseases associated with cats.

Campylobacter Infection (campylobacteriosis): A bacterial disease associated with cats, dogs, and farm animals.

Cat Scratch Disease (Bartonella henselae): A bacterial disease associated with cat scratches and bites.

Coxiella burnetti Infection (Q fever): A bacterial disease occasionally associated with cats.

Cryptosporidium Infection (cryptosporidiosis): A parasitic disease associated with cats, dogs, and farm animals.

Dipylidium Infection (tapeworm): A parasitic disease associated with cats, dogs and fleas.

Hookworm Infection: A parasitic disease associated with cats, dogs and their environment.

Leptospira Infection (leptospirosis): A bacterial disease associated wild and domestic animals including cats.

Plague (Yersinia pestis) Infection: A rare bacterial disease associated with rodents and cats and fleas.

Q Fever (Coxiella burnetii): A bacterial disease occasionally associated with cats.

Rabies: A viral disease associated with various animals, including cats.

Ringworm: A fungal disease associated various animals, including with cats.

Roundworm: See Toxocara Infection.

Salmonella Infection (salmonellosis): A bacterial disease associated with various animals, including cats.

Tapeworm (flea tapeworm): See Dipylidium Infection.

Toxocara Infection (toxocariasis, roundworm): A parasitic disease associated with cats, dogs and their environment.

Toxoplasma Infection (toxoplasmosis): A parasitic disease associated with cats and their environment.

Listed below are the 12 steps the CDC recommends to minimize risk. Virtually all are simple common sense and hygiene.

1. Keep baby chicks and adult chickens away from persons with weaker immune

systems, including the elderly, pregnant women, diabetics, patients receiving

chemotherapy, and people who are infected with HIV.

2. Do not keep chickens if a household has children less than five years of age.

3. Make sure that any interaction between chicks or chickens and small children is

supervised and that children wash their hands afterwards. Children less than five

years of age tend to put their hands and other potentially contaminated objects

into their mouths.

4. Supervise hand washing for small children to make sure that it is adequate. See

our CDC website for proper hand washing guidelines:

5. Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching chickens or anything

in their environment. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based

hand sanitizer. Bacteria on your hands can be easily transferred to objects and

other people in your home.

6. Wash contaminated items with hot soapy water or with a mild bleach solution.

7. Do not eat or drink around your chickens.

8. Keep chickens away from food preparation areas.

9. Do not wash items from chicken coops like water and food dishes in the kitchen


10. Do not allow chickens to roam freely around the house.

11. Frequently clean the area where chickens are kept.

12. Visit your physician if you experience abdominal pain, fever, and/or diarrhea.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another Chicken Tractor Builder

Almost as soon as the pixels faded, I got an email from Mike Lasche featuring a chicken tractor he has designed and built.

This particular version features an asphalt shingle roof with eaves drip, 2x2 construction for light weight, all screw fasteners on the framing, pressure treated wood for durability, wheelbarrow tires, a hardened steel axle, a four-space chicken coop, double draw bolts on all doors, a perch so that chickens can easily enter the coop, ergonomic design so that one person can easily move it, low-profile design so as not to be too conspicuous, and it is small enough to be moved in the back of a pickup truck.

If you are interested, try contacting Mike at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chicken Tractor

Ira Klineschmidt showed up at tonight's CLUCK meeting with a $300 chicken tractor in the back of his pickup. Ira is the chicken tractor builder featured in the recent Sarasota Herald Tribune (see article on the right). Ira offered to donate a tractor for a demonstration if CLUCK can get permission from the City.

You can reach Ira at 941-685-6727. Or check out his webpage.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Arcadia Backyard Chicken Swap Meet Report

Its ironic that the most scenic drive around is not identified as a scenic drive. The highway from western boundary of Myakka River State Park to Horse Creek is a lovely drive that combines the natural habitats of preserve lands with working ranches. 

The Tractor Supply Company is on the north side of Highway 70, east of Arcadia. The swap meet was held in the parking lot under tents and awnings. We got there early and there were not many swappers with a combination of pullets and mature birds. From Jersey Giants to Silkies there was some variety, but since we are not chicken buyers at the moment, there was not a lot more to be done there.

Then we took a tour of the Tractor Supply Company itself -- a rural, livestock oriented hardware store with chain saws, livestock supplies and some western wear-- worth checking out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Yorker Writer, Susan Orlean, on Backyard Chickens

You can't read the article online (unless you are an online subscriber) but New Yorker author, Susan Orlean (The Orchid Thief) has brought backyard chickens out of the closet and related her experiences with her birds. Here are a few excerpts (but you really need to buy a copy of the September 28th issue with historic vehicles heading to a museum parking garage on the cover).

"Until the nineteen-fifties, it was common to keep a few chickens around. They were cheap and easy to raise; unlike cows or sheep, they were hardy and tolerant of most weather, could subsist on table scraps and bugs, took up little space, required the simplest of housing, and fertilized the garden while they scratched through it. Gathering eggs was so easy that children were often assigned to do it; by contrast, getting milk or meat or wool was a major production. A chicken was a good investment." 

". . . chickens seemed to go hand-in-glove with the post-feminist reclamation of other farmwife domestic arts --knitting, canning, quilting. It was a do-it-yourself hobby at a moment when doing things yourself was newly appreciated as a declaration of self-sufficiency, a celebration of hand-work, and a push-back from a numbing and disconnected big-box life."

"This year, Murray McMurray Hatchery, which caters to people with backyard flocks, sold 1.7 million chickens. . ."

" When one of my hens laid my first home-grown egg. I was as proud as f I had been attending my daughter's bat mitzvah."

"The chicken, that thing with feathers, always and sunny and useful, will endure."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Arcadia Backyard Chicken Swap Meet October 3

Chicken Swap Meet October 3rd 10:00 am until 3:00 pm

Tractor Supply Company 1701 E. Oak St. Arcadia, Florida 34266

It's located right on Hwy 70 E.

For a sense of what may be available click on BackYardChickens Forum.

If people might want to carpool, leave a comment.

Additional Backyard Chicken Benefits (we're up to a dozen)

Robin Ripley wrote an article extolling eight benefits of raising backyard chickens  (See the article on the right under Chicken Websites). Then in a followup article she added a ninth benefit-- that they are beautiful birds. Here are three additional reasons, bring the total to a dozen:

10) Food Waste Management Most households produce a measurable quantity of food waste: food discarded during meal preparation, leftovers, and old food. You can send this to the landfill, or grind it in a disposal and send it to the sewer plant or you can compost it. Composting takes time but makes good fertilizer that will produce good produce. But what if you could add an intermediate  step and get some protein before the fertilizer and produce? That's where backyard chickens come in. While there are some foods they won't eat, and some foods they shouldn't eat, chickens are omnivorous and will convert yesterday's uneaten salad into today's poached egg and tomorrow's organic fertilizer.

11) Neighboring Robin discussed how chickens are great topics of conversation from grocery lines to parties, but failed to mention how chickens help stitch neighbors together. Air conditioning, the decline of the front porch, and the remote garage door opener have all contributed to less contact with neighbors. How many of us would contemplate borrowing a cup of sugar these days? But chickens help fight the trend of neighbor isolation. Excess eggs make great gifts that lead to neighbors wanting to learn more. Returning the carton (in hopes of getting some more) creates another neighbor interaction. And maybe they leave some fruit or vegetables they raised in exchange. Their kids are curious about brown or blue eggs, so they get invited over to see the operation.  Kids are naturally fascinated by chickens, so now there is another way to get to know them aside from Halloween. Chickens connect.

12) Fighting Sprawl Somewhere realtors, planners, or sociologists have documented why people leave urban areas for rural areas and I'm willing to bet one of significant reasons is so their children can have a rural experience that includes the possibility of having a pony or rabbits or chickens. Ponies don't work on small urban lots, but rabbits and chickens can. So we have to stop and wonder why we are forcing people to adopt a car-dependent sprawl lifestyle just to have a rabbit hutch or small chicken coop. That raises the question: Since there are so many more urban and suburban households compared to farm households, haven't we passed the point where there are more urban households with chickens than rural households with chickens? 

High end parrots, macaws, and cockatoos make more noise than any hens, but hens are still burdened with legal bias. Old stereotypes about "farm animals" should be dissolving as we farm things like catfish and the category of pets has been expanded to include hedgehogs, bearded dragons, tarantulas, and prairie dogs.  We need to stop determining what pets are allowed in our neighborhoods prejudicially based on what species they are, but on performance -- what impacts they actually have on the neighbors. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sarasota CLUCK submits Zoning Text Amendment Request

Here's what we're asking:

Sarasota CLUCK seeks to amend current City and Zoning Codes to make it more feasible to keep a small number of pet hens (female chickens) in the Single Family Residential areas of the City. To this end we are proposing to limit the number of chickens to no more than 6, ban roosters, and require that chickens must be confined to the owners back and/or side yard. This modest number of birds may be accommodated in mobile (AKA chicken tractor) coops or low, hutch-type, reach-in coops that do not require permitting and which could be relocated if needed. Permanent, walk-in coops would be accessory structures requiring permits.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

CLUCK presents at CCNA meeting

Tomorrow (Saturday) we will present at the CCNA meeting. With so much positive media, we expect it will go well. We will be armed with lots of good information and resources to share with folks from neighborhoods around the city. I will post an update on how things went tomorrow afternoon ...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rough draft of proposed components for chicken ordinance

We have a 'rough draft' of the components we would like to present as important to our chicken ordinance. We would like to keep things as simple as possible, which will allow room for suggestions from the city staff. Please make any comments/suggestions. We will be posting a poll through facebook over the weekend to see if there are any additional components our members feel are important to include. Here is what we have:

- require permit to allow chicken keeping - limit 100 per year
- 3 chickens per permit, maximum 6 chickens per household
- no roosters
- provide chickens with 'covered evening shelter'
- chickens to be retained in backyards only - behind solid 4 foot structure (wall)
- free range only in backyard area

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hear the WSRQ Sarasota CLUCK urban chicken interview.

Click on this text to go the Creative Loafing website and listen to the WSRQ Sarasota CLUCK urban chicken interview.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sarasota CLUCK on WSRQ 6 pm Wednesday July 29

Tune in to WSRQ 1220 AM at 6:00 on Wednesday July 29th to hear an interview with Jono Miller based on the CLUCK article now appearing in the latest issue of Creative Loafing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Next Meeting

It was proposed that our next meeting be held closer to downtown Sarasota, since we are focusing on the city of Sarasota and its residents. Whole Foods was a suggestion. However, we hope to have more attendees at future meetings so should we stay at the extension office for that reason?

As far as the next date, July 29th was suggested, which is 3 weeks away. Does that give us enough time? Would that conflict with any other meetings? We would like to avoid the first Tuesday of the month as that is the meeting of Holistic Moms and we definitely have some supporters among that group.

Please voice your opinions for the location and date/time for our next meeting!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Steps we need to take

Also discussed at tonight's meeting were the steps we need to take and some individuals who might help with those tasks:

1. talk to CCNA/CONA to determine their concerns or objections
2. set up tour of property in Venice where chicken keeping is allowed
3. video of some local examples of backyard, urban chickens (ALEX)
4. talk to Chuck Henry - director of Environmental Health for Sarasota County Health Dept.
5. since city of Sarasota will grant temporary permits for chicken keeping under certain circumstances, we discussed setting up a city resident with some backyard chickens as a model for what we want to achieve (DAVID)
6. we also discussed the possibility of getting FL House involved
7. talk to county commissioners and planners to see what their concerns or suggestions might be
8. research county zoning - what percent of single family residential dwellings in Sarasota either a)are already zoned to allow chickens b)would not allow chickens based on deed restrictions or c)have no deed restrictions but aren't currently zoned for chickens (REBEKAH)
9. look at some what to survey where chickens are currently being raised (legally and otherwise)
10. develop a fact sheet (this was mentioned toward the end of the meeting and I didn't quite catch it all) (DAVID)
11. once we have ironed out some details of what we might propose in our ordinance, we should develop an online survey and distribute through the blog and facebook group so we can get a consensus as to which restrictions are best to include in the ordinance

I'm sure there are some things I missed as there was plenty of discussion, but we have plenty of work to do for now!!

Summary of latest CLUCK meeting 7/7/09

We discussed lots of important topics at tonight's meeting.

The facebook group was reviewed. You can join by going to

We reviewed the components of various ordinances outlined in the article "Residential Urban Chicken Keeping: An Examination of 25 Cities" and discussed these in relation to our proposed ordinance as follows:

1. Number of birds - 3 birds, more or less restrictive than that, more birds based on permitting, start more restrictive and allow more birds after trial period is successful

2. No roosters but what to do about roosters people receive by 'accident' when they order chicks

3. Permits/fees - a small fee for individuals to feel more invested in their chickens; permits only with larger numbers of birds; exemptions for those who are grandfathered in or currently live in areas of the county zoned for chicken keeping; taking a class will reduce permitting fees

4. Enclosure requirements - minimum square footage per bird; wire gauge requirements; apprenticeship or classes for chicken coop design; free range only with 6 foot fence or fenced chicken run/chicken tractor in backyard - subject to leash laws

5. Distance restrictions - setbacks of 15-20 feet from nearest residence; perhaps closer with signed permission from neighbors

6. Trial or focus group of 100-250 (opinions varied) to show how it would work before city or county wide ordinance would be passed (limited number of permits issued for chicken keeping)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Second Sarasota Urban Chicken Meeting

The second meeting of Sarasota CLUCK will take place Tuesday night, July 7th at 6:30 p.m. We'll meet in the same location, the auditorium at the Extension office, 6700 Clark Road, just east of the Interstate. CLUCK stands for Citizen's Lobbying for Urban Chicken Keeping. If you support people being able to have a few hens in their backyard, please join us. In addition to brief progress reports, we expect a summary of the three paths to a new City ordinance.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 1 Progress Report

So far we have had informal contact with three of the five Sarasota City Commissioners. They combine real interest in the possibilities of backyard chickens with their responsibilities to reflect many of the community concerns we have already identified.

Part of the path to success will be identifying and addressing legitimate concerns and doing so in a way that does not place so many constraints on having a few hens that it becomes unworkable. 

Here are some new concerns that we have not heard previously:

• Is there a need to simultaneously develop a compatible ordinance for the county, or is it okay for the City to go first?

• What happens if a chicken ends up on the loose in the neighborhood?

• Are the eggs just for home use and giving to neighbors or what happens if someone wants to sell eggs?

• Does the City need some form of tracking these animals (like dogs) or would it be okay to just have a few hens without all the government tracking (just like cats are now)?

And here are some tips and advice we've garnered:

Decision-makers would like to know where are chickens in cities working well.

Individual field trips to homes with chickens would help commissioners form their own opinions about the birds.

Having a local veterinarian working with our group would lead credibility.

Please spread the word (you can forward this email) about our next meeting 6:30 p.m., Tuesday July 7th, back the auditorium at the Extension office, 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota, Florida 34241.

AND if you are supportive, please join the Sarasota CLUCK facebook group:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dumb Clucks?

For whatever reason, birds in general are not seen as being very smart. I'm not sure how a species that regularly misplaces car keys and TV remotes can refer to a scrub jay that can remember the location of six thousand items (acorns) as a 'bird brain", but we humans routinely use terms like "dodo", and "dumb cluck" to refer to people who don't seem very bright. The last term, "dumb cluck" seems directed specifically at chickens and one objection people raise about chickens is that they are stupid, dumb birds. And, admittedly, chickens may not beat any corvids (crows and jays), parrots or even pigeons when it comes to bird IQ. 

But recent research suggests that chickens are nowhere near as clueless as some would prefer to believe they are. One researcher tells audiences about remarkable animals that "understand sophisticated intellectual concepts, learn from watching each other, demonstrate self-control, worry about the future, and even have cultural knowledge that is passed from generation to generation". Audiences apparently assume he is talking about monkeys, but those are all behaviors witnessed in chickens.

Now, as so often is the case, it turns out our inability to notice evidence of chicken intelligence may have more to do with our limitations than the chickens. Research at the University of Connecticut suggests chickens have at least two dozen distinct calls communicating different types of information that they have been using for millennia, while we are just getting around to trying to learn what they mean. 

The next time someone tells you chickens are dumb, find out if they are basing that on personal experience or just repeating what they have been told. My guess is that people who have low opinions of chickens either haven't spent much time with them or only experienced confined white leghorns, which have limited ability to demonstrate their capabilities.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Let's all pitch in here

This will be a super venue for all of us to keep track of progress and make suggestions. Yesterday I thought of 2 more groups we need on our side...Holistic Mom's Network and birthing centers. I will approach both.

Starting the blog with Tom Lyons

This is just an initial entry to help people find Sarasota CLUCK (Sarasota Citizens Lobbyingfor Urban Chicken Keeping).