Friday, February 25, 2011

Tampa Bay Online Covers Backyard Chickens

Feb. 25. Tampa Tribune reporter Michelle Bearden filed a story online: Chickens clucking their way to an urban yard near you. The story covers urban chicken activity in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota Counties.

Excerpts below:
Chickens, she declares, are a lot easier to take care of than Stozz, her Great Dane. They're even easier than gerbils. Moreover, they have oodles of personality and possess some smarts, much more than she ever could have imagined. Best of all, when Finney dives into her gardening on weekends, she's got a little hen party keeping her company.
"I just enjoy having chickens around. They're my girls."
* * * * *
Not all cities welcome backyard chickens. As poultry popularity increases, so do community initiatives to change the rules where fowl are forbidden. The Pinellas County Citizens for Backyard Poultry, for example, devotes a website to helping residents organize petition drives and influence local politicians. They've been successful in Dunedin, Gulfport, Largo, Belleair and St. Petersburg.
In Sarasota, Citizens Lobbying for Urban Chicken Keeping, or CLUCK, worked with city officials for a year to get local laws changed. Now residents can keep up to four chickens at home (no roosters), as long as they house them safely in a coop at night and keep them at least 25 feet from neighboring property.
In unincorporated areas of Hillsborough County, it's illegal to keep chickens in residential areas. There's a little more flexibility in Tampa city limits, but restrictions apply.
According to the city's code, 5,000 square feet of land is required for every five chickens or less. And the birds must be kept in an enclosed area at least 200 feet from the neighbors' homes.
* * * * *
"If you want a companion to hike the Appalachian Trail with you, get a dog," she says. "But if you want some entertainment and the best omelet you will ever eat, chickens are for you."
* * * * *
It's a relatively inexpensive investment. Baby chicks run about $2 at the feed store, and coops can run the gamut, depending on how fancy you want to get. Finney spent about $70 on her accommodations. Feed costs about $25 every month or so; to store it, she bought a couple of $15 airtight containers.
The truth is, Finney's backyard chickens have saved her a lot of money.
"They're my therapy," she says. "They're cheaper and better than any psychotherapist."

1 comment:

sandieg said...

I am glad to see there is an effort
to change the rules. What right does anyone have to determine what constitutes a pet or doesn't. I live in a subdivision that boasts "wildlife Crossings" yet a neighbor
complained about my 6 hens who are relatively quiet and penned in 160 ft from her home, while my next door neighbor didn't even know I had them and has no objection. We have egrets that roam from yard to yard, rabbits and ducks that roam freely, and the other day, I saw
3 hens roaming the other end of the neighborhood. I live on 7/8 of an acre.The homeowners association is voluntary...I did not join and won't!It is not deed restricted.
I hope home values go back up, but
that may not help me in my life time or I would sell and move to the country. It is so wrong to malign chickens this way. I wanted
to plant a vegetable garden and chickens rid the yard of bugs and if you divide it in half, they cultivate the half they're in while you garden in the other! I am very upset about this. What can we do to change the regulations?