Thursday, December 22, 2011

Black-skinned Chickens Shed Light on Evolution

With all the talk about genetic engineering and controversy regarding evolution, it is appropriate to ask what light chickens may shed on the question of how organisms change through time. A great place to witness species change is with domestic animals since people have been selecting for various traits for thousands of years, in the case of chickens about 8,000 years.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pinellas Says Yes to Backyard Poultry

The County Commission of the most densely-populated county in the state okayed backyard chickens last night. Commissioners who govern the unincorporated portions of the County voted 5-2 to allow backyard chickens after a 18 month campaign spearheaded by Lisa McBride, founder of Pinellas Citizens for Backyard Poultry, and many 4-H supporters. The change affects approximately 280,000 people who do not live in one of the two dozen municipalities in Pinellas County. This covers a little more than one third of the land area of the county. Chickens are already allowed in five of the 24 cities (Belleair, Dunedin, Gulfport, Largo and St. Petersburg).

An Email from McBride contained the following paragraph:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pinellas Poultry Decision December 20th, Hillsborough Petition Now Online

According to a Suzette Porter story appearing on, unincorporated Pinellas County may be on the verge of allowing four backyard hens. Chickens are already allowed in Belleair, Dunedin, Gulfport, Largo and St. Petersburg. The arguments for and against seemed remarkably similar to what was heard in the City of Sarasota and the proposed rules (four hens, no roosters, single family residential areas only) seems generally similar to Sarasota's. See the website for Pinellas County Citizens for Backyard Poultry.

Here's a letter from organizer Lisa McBride

Dear Pinellas Backyard Chicken Advocates,

We need your help! We need letters and phone calls to all of the commissioners THIS WEEK even if you have already done so in the past. The final hearing and vote to legalize backyard chickens in our county will be held next Tuesday, December 20th at 6:30 PM. We also need you and all of friends who support the new ordinance to show up at that meeting.  
Anyone who wishes to can speak at the hearing for up to 3 minutes. All you have to do is get to the meeting early enough and fill out a blue card and then you will be called upon to speak during the hearing.

Commissioners Latvala, Roche & Welch have expressed support for the proposed ordinance. Seel, Morroni & Bostock are currently in opposition because the Code Enforcement Department staffing has been greatly reduced and they do not want to add additional workload to that department.

My best estimate of number of additional calls to Code Enforcement as a result of this change would be 23 calls (based on data from, St. Pete, Dunedin, Largo Gulfport & Belleair). If it costs the county $75 for each call, the cost to enforce the new backyard chicken ordinance will be less than $2000. Compare that with a cost of approximately $4 million dollars to run the Animal Services Department which is a department charged with management of issues related to domestic animals, i.e. dogs and cats, and the cost to enforce this new ordinance seems trivial. Especially when you consider that the chickens can yield a family a net savings of $400 a year when the cost to own a dog per year is $1100-$ 3500 dogs and the cost to own a cat is      $1070 per year.

I’ve attached a copy of our last Powerpoint as well as the proposed ordinance to give you information for letters.

Thank you for your support,

Lisa McBride.

In other regional chicken news, Hillsborough County Citizens for Backyard Poultry now has an online petition.

Friday, December 9, 2011

CLUCK blog records 35,000 pageviews in less than a year

When the first Sarasota CLUCK blog posting went up on June 11 2009, it was assumed it would simply be vehicle for advocacy of passage of a local City of Sarasota backyard chicken ordinance.  Then, nearly a year and half later, on December 18th 2010, the blog recorded its 5,000th pageview (averaging 9 pageviews a day) and the ordinance was passed just a few months later on February 7th, 2011. Now, exactly fifty-one weeks after hitting 5,000, CLUCK has recorded its 40,000th pageview, an average of nearly 100 (97.49) pageviews a day, which is a ten-fold increase. That means the vast majority of pageviews have occurred after passage of the ordinance. This posting is a summary of some of the dimensions of this success. 

The most viewed post, (out of 187 posts) with over 1,800 pageviews is Sarasota CLUCK's Top 25 Funky Chicken Facts. Posted in mid-January, this posting (now with 30 funky facts) lists interesting, and sometimes nearly unbelievable, information about chickens and includes links to sources, a feature virtually all other chicken fact sites lack.

The second most popular, with nearly 1,400 pageviews is an annotated version of the City Ordinance. This document includes both the official language of the ordinance, and an accessible interpretation of what each section means and the intent behind it.

The third most popular, with about 1,200 pageviews is a discussion of treadle feeders, which are feeders that chickens activate to access food by standing on treadle. 

Other noteworthy posts include the Are You Ready for Backyard Chickens Quiz, which has over 550 pageviews and the reprint of the Backyard Poultry magazine article based on the Sarasota experience, which has been averaging six views per day and is expected to become one of the more popular posts. 

No doubt about it -- December 2011 has been a big month for local CLUCK: hitting 40,000 pageviews, an article published in Backyard Poultry Magazine and the first meeting of Manatee CLUCK. 

And clearly the blog has evolved from just a one-time, campaign-driven, local-focus resource to a site accessed all over the country and planet (over 2,000 pageviews from United Kingdom and Russia combined).

But one goal remains unmet, and that is relaxing restrictions on backyard chickens in unincorporated Sarasota County. That is a big target for the coming year. If you are interested in changing the county rules, please write to us at SarasotaCLUCK@ or join the Facebook Group

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Manatee County Chicken Advocates Meet Tonight- Dec 7th

Manatee CLUCK plans a meeting at 6 p.m. tonight, December 7 at the 
Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Blvd. W., Bradenton.

The tentative agenda includes a review of current status in Manatee County on backyard chickens, a summary of issues of urban backyard chickens, lessons learned from the successful Sarasota CLUCK campaign in the City of Sarasota, committee tasks assignments for Manatee CLUCK, and scheduling a next meeting.

For more information about keeping urban chickens, call 941-232-3090, or consult the website:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sarasota CLUCK Campaign gets National Attention in Backyard Poultry Magazine

The December 2011/January2012 Issue of Backyard Poultry features an article based on the lessons learned from the 18 month campaign to legalize backyard hens in the City of Sarasota. The article, One Dozen Tips to Legalize Chickens in Your Community, summarizes some of the successful strategies and setbacks experienced during the campaign. Backyard Poultry has now placed an online version on its website so that backyard chicken supporters will be able to access the tips for free without having to buy the magazine or find Sarasota CLUCK.

The One Dozen Tips Article is Based on the Experience in the City of Sarasota

The article features photographs by local artist Jean Blackburn. Two of the three photographs include Sarah the Buff Brahma (seen below). Sarah has already been featured in SRQ Magazine and in an earlier posting.

And one new (British) book characterizes Brahmas as "magnificently large, good natured and docile hens that make an excellent pet, as it is extremely ease to tame if handled gently". If you are looking for a mid-sized coffee table book for a chicken lover, consider The Illustrated Guide to Chickens by Celia Lewis. Beautiful watercolors accompany descriptions of 100 different breeds (and there is a forward by the Prince of Wales).


There are several meanings of the word chicken and one is cowardly. We're not sure how cows feel about that, but shortly after the posting above went live, CLUCK received the following critical and anonymous email message and comment regarding the Backyard Poultry article: 

The first paragraph has an error. The vote was not 5-0 to legalize backyard hens, but 4-0. One commissioner was absent due to illness. Another mis-fact from CLUCK! 

It is true that the first unanimous vote was 4-0, but the second reading on the consent agenda (February 7th) was recorded as follows:


So CLUCK stands by the article that the final vote to adopt was 5-0 and encourages those who take issue with chickens to have the courage of their convictions to identify themselves.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Manatee Commissioners WIlling to Consider Hens, Citizens Organize

It is fascinating to see the same progression of objections brought up in community after community when the subject of backyard chickens comes up. As Yogi Berra said "It's deja vu all over again." These thoughts came to mind reading the Bradenton Herald's Sara Kennedy article County considers allowing chickens. On Monday the County Commission directed staff to research allowing chickens in residential neighborhoods. The 6 to 1 vote reflects an initial open-mindedness on the part of most commissioners.

One commissioner did bring up the predictable slippery-slope, domino-theory, camels-nose-under-the-tent, small-end-of-the-wedge argument: "If the county allows chickens, why not pigs, goats or cows?" Probably for the same reason that allowing cats doesn't lead to tigers and allowing dogs doesn't lead to wolves.

According to the article Manatee CLUCK plans a meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Blvd. W., Bradenton.
For more information about keeping urban chickens, call 941-232-3090, or consult the website: 

Monday, November 21, 2011

CLUCK Opportunity: Sarasota County 4H Poultry Workshop

Hey Kids (particularly those of you in the City of Sarasota where is is legal to have chickens)! Sarasota County 4H Poultry Workshop could be for you! Do you have chickens? Want chickens? You don't need to be a 4H member to participate. 

When: December 3, 2011 
Where: Sarasota County Extension
6700 Clark Road, Sarasota, FL 
Time: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Hands-On Instruction by Cindy Kinard
Topics Include:
Poultry Raising Basics Grooming and Showmanship
Record Books and County Fair Small Livestock Entry Forms
Bringing Your Poultry Project Is Allowed !
Please RSVP with Janie Besselman at 941-232-8420 or 941-907-0011 by November 28, 2011.

Manatee County Backyard Chicken Issue Gaining Traction

On Friday November 18th, the Bradenton Herald carried a Sara Kennedy story "Manatee residents unite: We want chickens". According to the article Commissioner John Chappie may broach the subject with his fellow County Commissioners Monday November 21. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

CLUCK supports Sarasota Food Day Oct. 23rd 2011

CLUCK will be present and answering questions at the Sarasota Food Day event that will be held at WSLR on Kumquat in downtown Sarasota this Sunday, October 23rd. Please reply if you can take a turn and particularly if you can bring a chicken or two, which really brings people over to talk.

Click on the image below to enlarge. Sarasota Food Day is part of national food day.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

CLUCK CITIES: # 18 Detroit -- chickens rebuilding neighborhoods

We've written about the affection and chicken advocacy expressed by Susan OrleanMartha Stewart,  Alice Walker and Paula Deen. Now we notice Oprah has been on the case for more than three years. The April 2008 issue of O Magazine features a story "Gardening to Save Detroit" that explores how gardens, rabbits, and chickens are helping revitalize areas of Detroit by turning vacant lots into productive land. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

SRQ Magazine Features CLUCK as "Hot Rallying Cry"

The September 2011 Issue of SRQ Magazine contains a HOT LIST that covers everything from Bar Stools and Roller Derby to Bar-B-Q and Sectional Sofas. Sarasota CLUCK earned a three paragraph shout-out (Hot Rallying Cry) and a full-page studio photo that features Sarah, the buff brahma, the hyper-mellow hen that was CLUCK's unofficial goodwill ambassador during the campaign. 

Monday, August 22, 2011


With Irene about to buzzsaw up the east coast of Florida possibly as a MAJOR hurricane that will affect us here in Sarasota, it is worth contemplating chickens and hurricanes.

" Along toward low gray-yellow twilight, Postmaster Smallwood, on his knees beneath his store, is raking out the last of his drowned chickens. . . . He is a big man and bangs heavily against the wall of the frame house, causing his wife, somewhere inside, to cry out in alarm, Slowly he straightens, arches his stiff back. He takes a deep and dreadful breath, gags, coughs and shudders. He hawks the sweet taste of chicken rot from his mouth and nostrils."

Wet Hen from Six Orange Carrots website

That quote is from the beginning of Peter Matthiessen's Killing Mister Watson, and no chicken owner wants to go through that. So before Irene, or some other storm, arrives it is worth thinking about those hens.
Tropical depressions and hurricanes can pound our area with persistent rain for days. This can create three problems, wet birds, wet feed and wet litter.  Chickens do not like being wet (ever hear "madder than a wet hen") and wet feathers can alter the appearance of a hen and lead to an attack on it by the others. Wet birds are more susceptible to disease, so the coop needs to provide a dry retreat for the hens. Wet food spoils so you need ways to store and deliver feed that remains dry. Finally chicken droppings become more obnoxious and smelly when they get wet, so work on a design that keeps litter as dry as possible. If your yard floods, this may mean a little elevation.

One aspect tropical storms and hurricanes is high winds that can drive rain almost horizontally. You may want to provide a capacity to block wind-driven rain from getting in the coop. Walk-in coops in particular need secure anchoring, while mobile chicken tractors can be hauled into a carport or garage when a tropical storm approaches.
This, of course, is where the City of Sarasota requirement for a movable coop pays off. 

Here are CLUCK's recommendations for hurricane preparation (many suggested by Dr. Robert Kluson):

1) Clear space in your garage (or carport) for your movable coop.

2) Make sure feed is in a container and location that will not get wet. Bring it in the house if need be. 

3) Stockpile some newspaper, cardboard or other material for a bottom layer so that droppings are not ending up directly on the garage floor.

4) Check the mobility of your coop and be prepared to move it in before wind speeds complicate the process. 

5) Have a system to provide several days food and water to the birds if you have to evacuate.

If you do not have a movable coop: 

1) Check its stability and consider using screw-anchors and rope or webbing to better anchor it. 

2) Make sure feed is in a container and location that will not get wet. Bring it in the house if need be. 

3) Consider adding temporary panels to reduce wind driven rain, but remember the birds need good ventilation -- don't wrap it in polyethylene and cook them -- they need air. 

4) Set aside dry bedding material so that after the rain stops you can get birds up out of the mud.

5) Plan on keeping them cooped up and off the ground for awhile.

6) Have a system to provide several days food and water to the birds if you have to evacuate.
Projected path of Irene as of 5:00 pm Monday

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Next CHICKENS 101 Workshop - September 1Oth

It is not too late to sign up for the fourth Chickens 101 workshop, which will be held Saturday September 10th from 8:30 until noon.This is the half-day workshop recommended for people that are considering getting backyard hens. This is not a lecture in an empty classroom, but experiential education with lots of chickens of all ages. The workshop covers local laws and resources, benefits of chickens, basic care, biosecurity, and getting started. The cost is $15, which is great value for the expertise. You can register at the local ag extension website or have questions answered by calling 941-861-9900.  This event is limited to 30 people and pre-registration is required so don't delay if you are considering participating. Click here for a video montage of the last workshop.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: Chickens As Agents of Change In India

How do you improve nutrition, empower women, and increase household incomes in rural India? According to, the answer may be a new breed of chicken called the Kuroiler (pronounced Cure-Oiler). Developed by Keggfarms, the Kuroiler outperforms indigenous chicken breeds (called Desi) and Keggfarms has developed an elaborate system to raise and distribute the young chicks throughout the countryside.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: Wall Street Journal Meets Backyard Hens

No one was too surprised when the New York Times started running sympathetic articles about urban chickens, but an upbeat Kris Maher article in the Wall Street Journal (subscribe today and get four weeks free) certainly seems to suggest a growing acceptance of backyard chickens. The focus of the article is the increasing numbers of coop tours, which usually feature play-on-words titles such as Tour de Coops or A Peep at the Coops. In Seattle this year nearly 50 households opened their coops for inspection. The article mentions that the forum on the backyardchickens website just topped 100,000 members.

Friday, July 29, 2011

FUNKY CHICKEN FACT #31: Chickens Beat Columbus to the New World

It is common, but quite possibly inaccurate, knowledge that the Spanish first brought chickens to the New World. Some archaeologists have concluded that chicken bones dated to sometime between 1321 and 1407 constitute proof that it was Polynesians traveling East and not Europeans traveling west that first brought chickens to the New World!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: 'MY SUNCOAST' not too generous with news related to a domestic avian species

The webpage masthead says but the dire warning at the end of the article seems to imply that it is not our suncoast, but theirs, and they are retaining all rights. The warning says the content may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed, which is a little weird because they encourage people to share the article, which certainly seems like a form of redistribution to us. Cautiously we proceed. Here goes:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CLUCK ASKS: Are Those Pasture Eggs Really Any Better?

CLUCK has read articles asserting that when a taster is blindfolded, store-bought battery cage eggs cannot be distinguished from backyard or pasture eggs. That may or may not be true, but without the blindfold most people prefer the free-range eggs because their yellow-orange yolks look so much better than the anemic yellow of most store-bought eggs. 

But beyond appearance and flavor is the question of whether there is actually any nutritional difference. And apparently there is.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

CLUCK REDIRECT: Chickens Are Colorblind?

We don't engage in a lot of redirection, simply linking to other online articles, but this piece seems to contain an inspirational lesson that, as humans looking for meaning almost everywhere, seems to suggest that for all their bloody pecking order travails, chickens may have answered the "Why can't we all just get along?" question with getting along.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

FUNKY CHICKEN FACT #29: Chickens Role in the Cold War

CLUCK routinely adds facts to our collection of funky chicken facts without much fanfare, but this one is even more surprising than the fact that chicken feathers could slash five million off the cost of a hydrogen powered car. It involves using chickens and nuclear weapons and unless you've heard about this previously you are unlikely to guess the connection.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: Antibiotic chicken food in Netherlands linked to drug-resistant E. coli in humans

Next to Salmonella, probably the biggest health risk associated with chickens is the bacterium E. coli. Some people are probably tempted to assume that backyard hens might be more likely to cause problems related to E. coli because they are less likely to be medicated. Now a report from the CDC that appears in their Emerging Infectious Diseases journal suggests that the genetic makeup of E. coli found in some Netherlands hospital patients is so similar to that found associated with chicken meat sold there that the chickens are likely the source of the strain and, moreover, the strain is drug-resistant probably as a result of emerging in chickens fed anti-microbial agents.

Monday, July 4, 2011


On July 28th, 2011, it will become legal to keep chickens in Milwaukee, the 28th largest city in the US. Most large cities in the U.S. allow chickens. The ordinance allowing them is provisional and will sunset in one year unless renewed. CLUCK is not prone to simply forwarding readers to another source, but for a concise article about backyard chickens, it is hard to beat Michael Timm's How to keep urban chickens happy, which appeared in the Bay View Compass.

Squozi the bantam cochin.
Photo by Jim Klousia for the BayView Compass
And, for the record, chickens are now allowed in our nation's twentififth through thirtieth largest cities:
Nashville TN, Denver CO, Louisville  KY, Milwaukee Wi, Portland OR, and Las Vegas NV.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

CLUCK THEORY: The Six Stages of Residential Chickens In America

This is conceptual model that attempts to explain the various stages of residential chicken relationships every community in the US experiences. Not all communities experience all stages, and some stages may be leapfrogged or skipped.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sarasota Blogger Weighs In on Hot Chicks

It seems entirely fitting that the posting taking this blog to 30,000 pageviews is about another local blog: true green bliss. Blogger and green lifestyle coach, Elsie Gilmore, recently posted her reflections in the wake of the most recent Chickens 101 workshop. Her posting "hot chicks" explains her interest in backyard chickens even though she currently eats neither chicken nor eggs. It's a thoughtful excursion into the local world of backyard chickens and you'll even find a couple of links to this blog. What goes around, etc. 

CLUCK NEWS: Port St. Lucie Says No to Backyard Hens

After a whirlwind three month campaign, an east coast CLUCK group was handed a 4-0 defeat when the Port St. Lucie city commission voted to not change the city's laws regarding backyard chickens. Many of the arguments used against chickens were the same tired assumptions and sketchy accusations that were heard in Sarasota, among them that a few hens would cause a perceptible rise in backyard predators. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: Paula Deen Joins Ranks of High-Profile Women Crazy About Chickens

It started with Martha Stewart, then came Susan Orlean, and Alice Walker. Now Food Network Star/Host Paula Deen is hooked on chickens and, like so many, was willing to flout local zoning laws to keep her pets, which were rescue chickens. Now when someone complained about other chickens in Deen's Savannah neighborhood, the Zoning folks took notice and Deen's hens are now threatened.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

CLUCK OPINION: Chickens Don't Always Come Home to Roost

One common chicken-inspired phrase "when the chickens come home to roost" suggests that, at the end of the day (eventually) one has to face the consequences of their actions. It is comfort to think that misbehavior will eventually be accounted for. But a June 25, 2011 James B. Stewart New York Times story in the Business Section makes it clear that all of them don't always come home to roost.

Monday, June 20, 2011

CLUCK CITIES # 26 --: Denver votes to ease restrictions on chickens.

The 26th largest city in the nation just uped the urban farming ante Monday night  when the Denver City Council voted 7 to 3 to ease restrictions on backyard chickens (and ducks and goats).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: City Chicken Project A Force for Community in NYC

During our campaign to re-legalize chickens in the City of Sarasota, CLUCK argued that backyard chickens have the ability to build and strengthen neighborhoods. Now, New York Times Opinion writer Laura Anderson has written a piece documenting the City Chicken Project, "which brings egg-laying hens, necessary coop-building equipment, and training to urban gardens and schools in underserved neighborhoods."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Next CLUCK Meeting: July 13, 6:00 pm

We've scheduled our next CLUCK meeting for 6:00 p.m. July 13th at the (Green) Extension Building at Twin Lakes Park. That's just east of I-75 on Clark Rd (State Road 72). Read more for details about the program.

Monday, June 13, 2011

CLUCK ALERT: How You Can Help Hot Chicks!

With a heatwave gripping most of the southeast, and temperatures predicted to be in the 90's all week in most of Florida, it is worth reviewing the risk posed to your flock by high heat. Chickens are descended from Jungle Fowl, but they do have their limits. And high humidity (our speciality) aggravates the situation. Many of us can remember heatwave stories that featured high mortality in commercial chicken production facilities, but if you are waiting until you hear those stories to develop a cooling strategy for your birds, it may be too late. Read on to learn why.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

CLUCK Advice: To The Decision Makers in Port St. Lucie

This advice is not coming from your constituents but from 132 miles away over on the the other coast. So feel free to ignore it.

CLUCK NEWS: No Cuddle or Snuggle Warning Follows Salmonella Outbreak

While most baby animals are cute, tiny, fluffy, peeping baby chicks are especially adorable and children are understandably drawn to them. But it is worth repeating that the CDC does not recommend children under 5 interacting with chickens. Now, unfortunately we have a stark reminder as a result of a Salmonella outbreak that has affected at least 39 people in 14 states. As of June 9th there were no reported cases in Florida. The outbreak has been traced to baby chicks and ducklings from a hatchery in Ohio. While no deaths have been reported so far, who wants debilitating diarrhea and the risk of complications? Keep reading to see a map of reported infections.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: Time to Stock Up if you want Arsenic-laced Chicken Livers

One of the more bizarre and challenging attacks thrown at CLUCK during the campaign to re-legalize chickens in the City of Sarasota was the accusation that arsenic in chicken feed would pass through the hens and contaminate our local soil. Arsenic is a known carcinogen, more toxic than old lace, with which it is frequently associated. It was not only challenging because we didn't know how big or real a problem it was, but also because there didn't seem to be any realistic way for CLUCK or the City of Sarasota to address it, if it was a problem. How do a few chicken feed purchasers change the ways of a feed company??

Well, crisis (if there ever way one) averted! Many news sources are reporting that chemical giant Pfizer, whose subsidiary Alpharma makes Roxarsone (aka 3-Nitro), the arsenic-containing additive, will be suspending sales next month.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CLUCK Analysis: More Indications Linking Chickens to College-Educated Young People

CLUCK has been ridiculed and dismissed for suggesting the ability to keep backyard chickens might play a discernible role in attracting young, college-educated, creative class workers to a community.

Now (June 13 and 20, 2011 edition) Newsweek has listed 10 HOT CITIES that are the "best destinations for recent grads". So how do these burgs rate on being chicken friendly? Well, 9 of the 10 allow backyard chickens and there is an active campaign in Oklahoma City. When you combine that with a similar ranking CLUCK published earlier, that means that out of 15 cities identified as being great places for recent college graduates, 93.33% allow backyard chickens. Coincidence? Possibly. But we continue to advance that proposition that 1) young people are attracted to other young people, 2) young people prefer to settle where they feel welcomed, and 3) allowing backyard chickens, supporting bicycling, having farmer's markets, and allowing a downtown scene with music and cafes are all indicators that collectively signal to young people whether a community is welcoming to them.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Third Chickens 101 Workshop A Success!

Cars lined the driveway at the Lauterbach Farm as the curious and committed filled a barn for a four hour workshop that covered diverse topics related to backyard chickens. Local ordinances, getting started, breeds, biosecurity and many other topics were all covered. In addition to material presented by Extension Agent Rob Kluson, local experts Janice and George Lauterbach, Glenna Roberts, and Ira Klineschmidt supplemented Powerpoint info with personal experience and a wide variety of chickens.

CLUCK NEWS: Hair Fad Raises (and Removes) Hackles

More than a century ago women's fashion threatened the existence of numerous native bird species because of fashion. Now, according to the Associated Press, a new fashion may be threatening both fly fishermen and "roosters that are genetically bred and raised for their plumage". According to a Jessie L. Bonner story that appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, rooster hackles are now being used in hair extensions and the demand for rooster feathers is disrupting the market for fishing flies. Sadly, this and other stories report that the roosters are euthanized after the feathers are removed.

Friday, May 27, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: Organic Food Sales (Including Eggs) Remain Strong

The New York Times picked an organic egg producer in France to lead a story about continued strong sales of organic foods despite "weak economic conditions and rising inflation". Damien Bignon has 3,000 chickens near Paris and sells his eggs for the equivalent of $5.64 a dozen, "about twice the cost of factory-farmed eggs at a French supermarket". Comparable eggs in Sarasota sell for a comparable price, which is roughly five times what chain pharmacies sometimes advertise for a dozen.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

CLUCK Bookshelf: Susan Orlean's ANIMALISH

Just days after learning Alice Walker has a new book about chickens, we now learn Susan Orlean (The Orchid Thief)  is coming out with a new essay/book Animalish that will, among other things, get to her deep connections to chickens. In fact, the New York Times features a picture cuddling a favored hen, Mabel Black Label. The Times article revealed that her latest acquisition of Swedish Flower hens came from Florida, we suspect from Greenfire Farms.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CLUCK: Chickens 101 Workshop June 4 Still Has Openings

It is not too late to sign up for the third Chickens 101 workshop, which will be held Saturday June 4th from 8:30 until noon.This is the half-day workshop recommended for people that are considering getting backyard hens. This is not a lecture in an empty classroom, but experiential education with lots of chickens of all ages. The workshop covers local laws and resources, benefits of chickens, basic care, biosecurity, and getting started. The cost is $15, which is great value for the expertise. You can register at the local ag extension website or have questions answered by calling 941-861-9900.  This event is limited to 30 people and pre-registration is required so don't delay if you are considering participating. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Five More Sarasota CLUCK Milestones

Sarasota CLUCK just keeps on keeping on -- we have five new milestones to announce that involve our blog, Facebook, our supporters, and the support we are providing:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

CLUCK bookshelf: Alice Walker -- The Chicken Chronicles

Author and New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean is a fanMartha Stewart is onboard. And now author, poet, and Pulitzer Prize (not pullet surprise) winner Alice Walker is on the chicken bandwagon. The Diane Rehm show recently featured an interview with Alice Walker that focuses on her new book, The Chicken Chronicles.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Manatee CLUCK now on Facebook!

Sarasota CLUCK now has company on Facebook -- friends in Manatee County have started Manatee Cluck and can be found on Facebook. If you know people who support backyard chickens in Manatee County, please direct them there.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

3.2 Million Dead Complicate Tornado Recovery

According to the Wall Street Journal, ravaged chicken production facilities in Alabama are complicating recovery from the tornados that recently ripped through the southeast. In addition to more than 300 people that were killed and widespread infrastructure damage, it is now estimated that more than 3.2 million chickens were killed by the twisters in Alabama alone.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: Next "Chickens 101" Workshop Scheduled -- June 4

After 37 adults (and a bunch of kids) showed up for the second Chickens 101 workshop, it became evident that there was additional demand for this offering from our County Ag. Extension professionals. The next class will be held June 4 from 8:30 until noon and will cover local laws and resources, benefits of chickens, basic care, biosecurity, and getting started. The cost is $15, which is great value for the expertise. You can register at the local ag extension website or have questions answered by calling 941-861-9900.  This event is limited to 30 people and pre-registration is required so don't delay if you are considering participating. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

CLUCK's "Funky Chicken Facts" a hit! Over 1,000 pageviews

On January 14th 2011, Sarasota CLUCK posted a simple blog entry that contained our top twenty "funky chicken facts". What distinguished this list from many of the other chicken fact webpages was that rather than free-floating postulates that people had to "believe or not", these factoids came with live links to online sources. That enables people to dig deeper if they so choose.

Now 104 days later (April 28) we've recorded the one thousandth pageview for this posting, which has grown to 22 Funky Chicken Facts with several bonus facts (and one bogus fact) thrown in.

In other local CLUCK news, over 500 people have read our Annotated Sarasota Chicken Ordinance and nearly 300 have taken the Are You Ready for Backyard Chickens? QUIZ.  And we now have over 150 postings.

Sarasota CLUCK: Inspiration for East Coast Chicken Initiative

The online TCPalm features a Anthony Westbury story Chicken ladies all a-squawk about PSL livestock law. It seems Brenda Richardson of Port St. Lucie has been busted for having five hens on her half-acre lot and she is not too pleased. So she and her friends and allies are starting their own CLUCK group. The article mentions our Sarasota group and provides a web address for our blog. There is also a link to the Port St. Lucie online petition

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Next CLUCK Meeting: Give Peeps a Chance -- this time the county

The City of Sarasotans can now have chickens, so let's start working in the county! Come join us in an active discussion to plan our next steps toward changing the zoning for residential properties in Sarasota county to allow chickens. Wednesday May 4th 5:30-7:30 pm 
Sarasota County Extension office, Twin lakes park
6700 Clark Road, Sarasota, FL 34241

Refreshments will be served


CLUCK ASKS: Dyeing Chicks -- Totally Cute, Completely Inappropriate, or somewhere in between?

Image from
Although illegal in some areas, the practice of dyeing chicks for Easter holds on in parts of the US, and appears to be common in some other countries. Dyed chicks in China. Dyed Chicks in India. Dyed Chicks in Yemen.  Dyed Chicks in Morocco. Farm Sanctuary produced a video about some dyed chicks they rescued in New York City.
What many people don't know is that, at least in the US, the chick embryos s are dyed in the shell before they hatch, not afterwards. The resilient fuzzballs seem ignorant of their skittle-colored get-ups and ultimately grow new undyed feathers.

Here are some concerns:
Since this involves injecting dye into the shell, there is undoubtedly some loss
This practice may encourage people to buy chicks they are not prepared to care for
Frequently people end up with more cockerels (baby roosters) than they bargain for
This practice encourages kids and adults to view living creatures more as toys

Take our poll (on the right at the top) to register your opinions about dyeing baby chicks.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

CLUCK NEWS: Bacteria-contaminated chicken apparently common in stores

AOLNews is reporting on two recent investigations that suggest large percentages of chicken meat sold in stores is likely to be contaminated with problematic bacteria, some of it antibiotic resistant. One nationwide study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases reported that when they looked at 80 different brands of beef, chicken, pork and turkey (some from Fort Lauderdale) nearly half of the meat and poultry samples (47%) were contaminated with Staphylococcus aureusAnd more than half of those were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics.

Another recent study was conducted  analyzed "100 packages of chicken parts and fryers from 10 Seattle-area groceries during March. The analysis of these samples found that 65 percent of the birds tested had campylobacter, 19 percent had Salmonella and 2 percent had E. coli or listeria." Some had Staphyloccoccus aureus, including Multi-drug Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), which is very difficult to treat.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CLUCK Blog sets new record: 20,000 pageviews

What was once just a local chicken blog has caught on and is being viewed by chicken lovers and the chicken curious across the nation and planet. We started tracking pageviews last June and have been surprised at the responses. Pageviews peaked in January, the high-profile month the local City ordinance passed (see figure). Then numbers dipped in February as expected. But they started to rebuild in March (exceeding December) and the numbers for April (which is only 2/3rds over) have already exceeded total pageviews for January.The reason? With more than 130 distinct posts, the blog is becoming a go-to resource for people outside of Sarasota. 

CLUCK Chicken Advocacy Groups Proliferate

Wow. Check out C.L.U.C.K. on Facebook sometime. There are now thirteen backyard chicken advocacy CLUCK groups with Facebook pages across North America, and all seem to incorporate some acronym. More than a third are in Canada. The largest CLUCK group? Our own SARASOTA C.L.U.C.K. with nearly 600 members. The next closest has less than half that number.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Huffington Post Writer Endorses Backyard Coop Relocation

Brooklyn Resident Megan Paska (winner of Huffpost Green's Cutest Beekeeper Contest) has posted an essay Urban Chicken-Keeping and Staying on the Neighbor's Good Side, which acknowledges that neighbor's reactions to pet hens can change through time. And while we'd like to believe those reactions trend positively, Paska acknowledges that relations can sour. In her case a pregnant neighbors heightened sense of smell created some chicken friction. Her solution -- move the coop, a response anticipated by our local City ordinance that requires a movable coop.

Monday, April 11, 2011

From Martha Stewart to the Planet's Poorest

Heifer International has helped over 13 million families in more than 125 countries move toward greater self-reliance through the gift of livestock. For $ 20 you can send a flock of chicks of 10 to 50 chicks to a family that needs them. Their Spring 2011 newsletter World Ark features a story about backyard chickens. Jump to the end of this entry to see the item.

Chicks: A Good Choice

A flock of chicks can help families from Cameroon to the Caribbean add nourishing, life-sustaining eggs to their inadequate diets.
The protein in just one egg is a nutritious gift for a hungry child. Protein-packed eggs from even a single chicken can make a life-saving difference.
Heifer helps many hungry families with a starter flock of 10 to 50 chicks. A good hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year - plenty to eat, share or sell. With Heifer recipients' commitment to pass on the offspring and training, the exponential impact of adding chickens to communities in poverty is truly a model that helps end hunger and poverty.
Because chickens require little space and can thrive on readily available food scraps, families can make money from the birds without spending much. And chickens help control insects and fertilize gardens.
In Tanzania, Omari and Kulwa were struggling to raise a family on just 50 cents a day. With the training and chicks they received from Heifer, egg sales have boosted their daily income to $2, so they can now buy food and still pay school fees. Now, through passing on the gift, all of the children in their village are going to school.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Martha Stewart: Godmother of backyard chicken resurgence?

An article ran recently in the digital version of the Philadelphia Inquirer that featured Martha Stewart's recommendations on raising backyard hens. Read the article here. Some may dismiss Martha Stewart and her cultural phenomena because she was convicted of lying to investigators and served time, but she came back from that incident and has prospered. And cynics may deride her efforts to teach people how to make their homes homier or more domestic, but anyone whose net worth is estimated to be over $600 million and whose empire is based primarily on conveying their taste has obviously figured something important out about Americans. Still others may be surprised to learn Martha Stewart is a big fan of backyard chickens. While Martha only recommends two or three hens, she keeps dozens herself -- so you'll have to choose between do-as-I-say or do-as-I-do.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Who Says Chickens aren't Talented?

This short video speaks for itself.

CLUCK Opinion: Let's Blame the Chickens?

An article in SRQ daily quotes one source as attributing Commissioner Dick Clapp's recent defeat to the the chicken vote, and apparently the anti-chicken vote at that. That's classic pretzel logic because both Dick Clapp and his opponent, Paul Caraguilo, stood on the same side of the issue, standing with the vast majority of citizen email, editorial positions, and public testimony, which strongly favored backyard hens. When two candidates have similar positions on an issue, voters are forced to look elsewhere for means to distinguish between them.

Stranger still because Caraguilo had been a strong backyard chicken supporter from the outset while Clapp's support clearly emerged only at the end of the campaign. If the supposed "chicken vote" had any negative effect on Clapp's candidacy, it might of been because his support came so late. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

CLUCK goes to the Sarasota County Fair

Not only can you see about 14 different breeds of chickens at the Small Animal Tent at the Sarasota County Fair, you can also see the remarkable difference in eggs, as well as baby chicks and a demonstration chicken tractor.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CLUCK: Still need a few volunteers for the county fair

Are you curious about the various breeds of chickens being raised locally? Do you have a couple of hours for some chicken-related public service? Would you like a free pass to get in the County Fair?  If so, please consider taking a shift at the small animal tent at the County Fair, which starts this Friday. This is a great chance to assess the moods of a variety of chickens, help staff a CLUCK information table, and examine in detail a working chicken tractor. You'll also have a chance to meet and talk with others interested in chickens.

Friday, March 4, 2011

CLUCK Tips: Creative, Helpful, Inspirational Coops (CHIC)

There are no doubt thousands of images of chicken coop designs available on the web, and the range is testimony first to the adaptability of chickens and second to the vision and creativity of the designers.  Truth is (and you can read it here first and quote it): There is no better subject for a design competition than a chicken coop. Why so?  Because chicken coops lie at the intersection of three crucial design factors: scale, complexity, and relevance. Coops are small enough that people can go beyond scale models and actually build their designs - they are manageable, affordable, build-in-your-garage scale structures unlike designing a bus station or a water tower. That means people can adjust their designs on the fly as they construct their vision. Second, they require integration of a long list of complicated constraints and functions. Because they must accommodate living critters that need good ventilation but not drafts, easy access but tough security, lots of light with dark nesting areas, etc. the design challenges are far more intricate than say a dog house or back yard gazebo. Finally, there is incredible demand for affordable, sustainable, workable coops and anyone who comes close on all three will be rewarded, if not financially, then at least with the sincerest form of flattery.

One thing about coop design: beware of coops where the design gets out ahead of the function. If it looks too cute, ask yourself if the design is designed more to impress human eyes than accommodate gallinaceous needs.

This blog entry will change as we add more examples, but here are some creative, helpful and inspirational coop designs: