Saturday, December 29, 2012

Chicken Saves Family from Fire!

Several news sources are reporting that a chicken alerted a sleeping family in rural Alma Center, Wisconsin to a fire and enabled the owners (and the chicken) to escape alive. The house was destroyed. The chicken (named Cluck-Cluck) alerted the family in the early morning of December 27th. The fire started in a garage attic and the chicken was in the basement, but its loud clucking awakened the couple. The chicken had been brought inside because of cold weather.

from the Sarasota-Herald Tribune
NOTE: Since we don't have bitter weather (or basements) in Sarasota, this fire alarm system cannot be relied upon here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

J.J. Hart's "Ducks" and the Obstinacy of Local Governments

Taken at face value, the story of J.J. Hart's "ducks' (which are really chickens) is just another feel-good story that media outlets trot out to offset the "We're all gonna die, tune in at 11:00 to find out why" stories that seem so common.

But subsequent analysis reveals this is a more complex tale that spotlights the dysfunction of local governments (as well as the inherent values of "ducks").

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

CLUCK Campaign Next Steps by Jenny Marie Brannon

CLUCK meeting tonight was exciting!! Things are starting to happen. We watched the commission meeting where CLUCK spoke and the commissioners responded. They are reluctant because they just don't see the support. They want us to get neighborhoods to support us. Jono is going to respond to them that neighborhood associations can and will set their own rule regarding the issue. We need more community support to back us up. Show them that there are more people in favor, or even just indifferent, than there would be against. To do that, we need to get ourselves visible. We are hoping to get booths at the local farmers markets and community events. Also, The problem has been raised that the county covers so much area that evening meetings in Sarasota can be difficult for people to attend. There was support in the meeting to have rotating meetings throughout the county that may be more convenient. 

CLUCK NEEDS YOUR HELP! The time is NOW to make this happen. Soon we will be posting new meeting times and places and asking for specific assistance in manning tables at the farmers markets, making phone calls, and getting signatures. even if you have a busy household, we hope you can help from your phone or computer. Keep an eye on this page for updates and let us know if you have a specific talent, idea, business, or contact that you can share.

For those in Venice, Englewood, North Port and the surrounding area. I'm asking for your help specifically. Where is a good place to hold a south county meeting? Jennifer Miller Cortez and I discussed maybe at a restaurant with a large separate room so those of us with families can bring them and we can all eat. If anyone has involvement in the local high school's environmental or government clubs where the kids may want to use this platform as a project, are you able to tell us who to contact. Commission Thaxton is the commissioner for our district and he is supporting us. Lets show him that we are up to the challenge.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Why the Feral Chickens of Key West are an Irrelevant Worst Case Scenario

Many people seem to anchor their objection to backyard domestic hens based on their experiences in Key West, Florida, where feral chickens are common. Some visitors find these wild birds to be part of Key West's quirky charm and character -- one of the city's best known restaurants, Blue Heaven, is famous for the chickens roaming about. 

Other people, including one County Commissioner, apparently find the feral chickens presence and behavior alarming or disturbing. As a result, the Key West feral chicken situation is frequently cited as either an inevitable or plausible result of what would happen if were to allow backyard chickens in our county. But that sky-is-falling, worst case scenario is not likely and unsubstantiated claims such as this reflect both the ignorance and discrimination backyard chickens face.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sarasota Patch Covers County Chicken Campaign

Today's (September 27, 2012) Sarasota PATCH contains a lengthy, well-researched article by Charles Schelle Group Requests Approval for Backyard Chickens covering CLUCK's campaign for relaxed chicken regulations in the unincorporated county and the County Commission's reaction. 

If CLUCK had a journalism award (or any award) this piece would the top contender to date. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sarasota Herald Tribune Guest Column asks: Why Can't a Chicken Live in the Suburbs?

A recent Sarasota Herald Tribune guest column asked: Why Can't a Chicken Live in the Suburbs? The essay attempted to clarify an unusual situation characterized as a "chicken sandwich" in which chickens are allowed in the most rural and most urban areas of Sarasota County, but not in between in the suburbs.

The article urges citizens to contact their elected officials. For Sarasota County, they are currently the following:

You can contact the commissioner from your district (map below) but if you email, cc all the others.

Carolyn Mason

Joe Barbetta

Christine Robinson

Nora Patterson

Jon Thaxton

Mail to
1660 Ringling Blvd.
Sarasota, FL  34236

Friday, September 14, 2012

CHICKENS 101 Class Venice Sept 15

Head to Venice for a Chickens 101 and Chickens Fair September 15 from 9:00 until noon.

An introductory, hands-on workshop on the fundamentals of raising chickens such as:  local laws and resources; benefits of chickens; the basics (breeds, housing, feeding, health, chicken development); biosecurity; and getting started.

CLUCK will be there.

For more info and registration (you can walk in on the day of the event) click this link.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 2012 Sarasota CLUCK meeting

If you missed this meeting, check out the Sarasota Patch article: Sentinel Chickens An Important Part of Mosquito Control based on the presentation at our meeting. [comment added Sept 23rd)

You won't want to miss our next meeting of CLUCK where Natalie Osborne from Sarasota County Mosquito Control will describe the crucial Sentinel Chicken program. These birds are our county 's early warning system for mosquito-borne diseases, including West Nile Virus. 

As always, we'll also be talking strategy for our campaign to legalize chickens in more areas in the Unincorporated County.

And the meeting starts at 6:30 not some earlier time previously advertised.


LOCATION: Florida House, 4454 Beneva Road Sarasota, FL 34233. 

Questions? Call Laney 941-322-10

Sentinel Chicken & West Nile Virus Illustration from





Local Coop Builder Profiled in Herald-Tribune

A Tom Becnel article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that ran on Monday September 3rd profiled local coop builder Tom Dye. Titled "Carpenter turns his hand to cashing in a growing trend in poultry", the article acknowledges Sarasota CLUCK's role in local chicken advocacy.Tom is one of at least three local Sarasotans that have taken to building chicken coops as part of their income stream. Tom's website includes descriptions and photos of the "Mini-Cooper", "Chicken Little" and "The Leghorn".

For previous postings about coop builders see: Ira Kleinschmidt's Chicken Tractor and Mike Lasche's Another Chicken Tractor. For local chicken resources, visit Sarasota Chicken Resources.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CLUCK news: Coop Tours Celebrate Chickens

Not only are chickens being tolerated in many American cities, they are now being celebrated. The July 25th Dining section of the New York Times leads with an article "Where It All Comes Home to Roost" that features the Tour de Cluck in Davis, a California city of 65,000 as well as chicken coop tours in Seattle, Salem Oregon, Madison Wisconsin, Santa Fe, and Austin.

Poster for Coop Tour in Lexington Kentucky
Meanwhile, the latest issue (Vol. 7 No. 4) of Backyard Poultry magazine has an article on how to organize a coop tour. That article mentions tours in both Portland and Salem oregon, both Raleigh and Durham North Carolina, East Dallas Texas, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Madison Wisconsin.

According to an idealized sequence proposed in 7 STAGES OF CHICKEN KEEPING IN THE U.S., Coop Tours represent the sixth stage of chicken keeping in the US: "Relaxation -- Celebration". In this phase cities that already allow chickens relax restrictions through reduced permitting requirements and/or allowing an increased number of birds. In addition "cities advertise coop tours and embrace their identity as being chicken-friendly. Allowing chickens now suggests a progressive community." 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

CLUCK News: Can chickens cure cancer? The answer may surprise you.

Photo of Professor Jim Womack taken by Dave McDermand
There are plenty of books and articles of chicken diseases and maladies, but we don't read much about chicken cancer. Now there may be an explanation. JIm Womack, Texas A&M, Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Pathobiology used 115 leghorn and Cornish chickens while studying NK-lysin, which is a bacteria-killing peptide that chickens possess. In addition to killing bacteria, NK-lysin also can kill some cancers, and not only chicken cancers. Womack tested two chicken peptides that killed three different human cancers.

Click here to read the Monica S. Nagy online article posted on theeagle.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FOOD&WINE features Peter Burkard's fresh eggs and CLUCK

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune's FOOD & WINE supplement (May 30th 2012) features a Cooper Levey-Baker EAT NEAR story about Peter Burkard, the only remaining original vendor at the Sarasota Farmer's Market. On Saturday morning's Peter can be found at the west end of an alley running between Main and State and he is usually at the end of a line of people buying fresh greens, honey, cuttings, fruits, vegetables, etc. The photo accompanying the article shows lanky Peter holding two pullets and the article mentions that Peter "has nothing but great things to say about Sarasota CLUCK (Citizens Lobbying for Urban Chicken Keeping)".

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tampa Eases Up on Chicken Keeping

Chickens weren't illegal in Tampa, but onerous 200 foot setback requirements made keeping chickens impossible for all but the largest lot owners. Now, according to South Tampa-Hyde Park Patch, the City looks like it will be easing restrictions starting in 2013. According to the Tampa Bay Times, six of the seven council members voted to have staff draft an amendment for consideration early next year.

Sarasota CLUCK hits 50,000 pageviews!

Sometime over the past weekend at the end of April 2012, the Sarasota CLUCK website logged its fifty thousandth pageview - an impressive showing for what was ostensibly a local blog with a narrow goal (re-legalizing chickens in Sarasota).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Next CLUCK meeting Weds. April 25th

The next CLUCK meeting will be held Wednesday April 25, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. The location is the Florida House, 4454 Beneva Road, Sarasota FL 34233 (north of Proctor and SCTI on the west side of Beneva),Sarasota, FL.

We are picking up steam (and more supporters) in our efforts to legalize backyard hens in unincorporated Sarasota County. Right now we are living in a strange chicken sandwich -- they're legal in the rural, agricultural open use zones of the county and in the urban City of Sarasota, but not in-between! Please join us, we can do this!

In addition to getting to know each other, networking, and strategizing, there may a special surprise presentation. 

Florida House on the West Side of Beneva Road, north of Proctor

Sunday, April 15, 2012

CLUCK Advertising ?!#@*

Sarasota CLUCK Blog is rapidly approaching its 50,000th page view. We haven't had a month with less than 1,000 page views in more than a year and last month was over 2,500.

It is clear that readership has extended far beyond Sarasota (over 10,000 pageviews from outside the US!) and many of our pages (the constant offerings at the top, not the everchanging posts) are getting lots of views. Consider some of these pageview numbers:
• Annotated City Ordinance: 1,737 pageviews
• Quiz to see if people are ready for backyard chickens: 720 pageviews
• Coop design tips for Southwest Florida: 652 pageviews
• One Dozen Tips to Legalize Chickens in Your Community: 324 pageviews
      (this was first posted 41 days ago, so we are getting 8 pageviews a day)
• Our 25 Funky Chicken Facts, which appears as both a post and a page has received 2,789 pageviews!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Governor Scott Approves Dyeing Chickens!

Governor Rick Scott, shortly after repealing statute that prohibited dyeing of baby animals
According to Channel 10 News, Governor Rick Scott has signed the bill allowing the dyeing of animals, including baby chicks, despite over 4,000 emails asking him not to. The explanation is that the dye job language was tacked on to a major agricultural bill that had other provisions the Governor wanted to implement.

The bill the Governor signed CS/HB 1197 simply repeals Florida Statute 828.161, which read

828.161 Prohibiting artificial coloring and sale of certain animals and fowls; construction.
(1) It is unlawful for any person to dye or color artificially any animal or fowl, including but not limited to rabbits, baby chickens, and ducklings, or to bring any dyed or colored animal or fowl into this state.
(2) It is unlawful for any person to sell, offer for sale, or give away as merchandising premiums, baby chickens, ducklings, or other fowl under 4 weeks of age or rabbits under 2 months of age to be used as pets, toys or retail premiums.
(3) This section shall not be construed to apply to any animal or fowl, including but not limited to rabbits, baby chickens, and ducklings to be used or raised for agricultural purposes by persons with proper facilities to care for them or for poultry or livestock exhibitions.
(4) Any person violating the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.s. 1, ch. 67-177; s. 953, ch. 71-136.

Friday, April 6, 2012

So Much Backyard Chicken News!

A Chris Hinyub posting in the US Independent Voter Network Backyard Chickens Take Off With Small Scale Poultry Operations covers both backyard chicken campaigns in Florida and the general phenomenon.

National Public Radio broke a story about Williams Sonoma is starting a product line that will include a chicken tractor. The line will be called Agrarian.

And the  Wednesday DINING section of the New York Times led with Straight From the Home Coop, a multi-page story that not only covers ways to cook "home coop" eggs, but also points out that store-bought eggs can be up to six weeks old.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

CLUCK SQUAWK: Urinary Tract Infections May be Linked to Store-Bought Chicken!

In another case of the fox reporting on the henhouse, FOX News has reported that "Chickens may ultimately be to blame for the majority of urinary tract infection in the U.S." This sensational claim is based on a Center for Disease Control (CDC) study that found that that strains of E. coli believed to cause UTIs in women matched the strains of E. coli found in retail chicken meat. The most noteworthy aspect of this linkage is that "the bacteria did not come from any contamination during the preparation process, but from the chicken itself."

But don't take FOX News word for it. Here's a link to the actual CDC report: 

Tell the Governor: Just Say NO to Dyeing Baby Chicks

According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel, one dog groomer in Broward County convinced Ellen Bogdanoff (R. Ft Lauderdale) to introduce legislation that would allowing dyeing dogs for show. The result is a bill on the Governor's desk that would also allow dyeing of baby chicks and rabbits. 

UPDATE APRIL 6, ACCORDING TO A MIAMI NEWS BLOG, THE GOVERNOR HAD ALREADY SIGNED IT INTO LAW -- BUT that was WRONG. He has until Saturday the 7th to veto, otherwise it becomes law without his signature. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Backyard Chicken Keeping @ Ecofest April 14th 2012

Are you planning to go to Ecofest, this April 14th? If so, consider checking out a 45 minute presentation that starts at 2:00 p.m.  Poultry breeder, Glenna Roberts, Urban Chicken Tractor Builder, Ira Kleinschmidt and County Extension Agent Rob Kluson will be talking about backyard chicken keeping. Look for them close to Five Points Park.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Backyard Chickens: Unfortunate Pawns in Neighborhood Chess

We had a CLUCK meeting tonight with a good turnout, but a sobering, somber assessment. As we went around the room listening to people's chicken stories far too many sounded something like: 

We had a few chickens illegally in the County, but they weren't bothering anyone and all the neighbors were okay with them until we had an issue with one neighbor and in suspiciously coincidental, apparent retaliation, county code enforcement showed up and we had to give up the chickens or pay a really steep fine, which was really hard on the kids, who still want to know where their pets are. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Florida Legislature Dyeing to Create Unwanted Chickens and Rabbits

We've reported on dyeing baby chicks before. This is not dunking animals in a dye bath, but injecting dye into the egg. While the high-viz colors eventually moult out, animal rights groups are justifiably concerned about this unnecessary procedure that may lure consumers into buying colorfully cute baby animals that they have little idea how to care for.

Well, the Florida Legislature has passed legislation re-legalizing this practice after 45 years of it being illegal. Only the Governor's veto pen can stop chicks from dyeing. 

Huffington Post: Artificially Dyeing Animals Approved By Florida House And Senate

Palm Beach Post: 

What color is the Easter bunny? That's up to the governor now

CLUCK releases beta version guide to busted birds

Although more work is needed, Sarasota CLUCK has posted a guide for citizens whose birds have been busted -- turned in to code enforcement. Entitled My Chickens Busted by Code Enforcement, What do I do Now?  the online worksheet aims to help those whose hens have been targeted to think rationally about their situation and what can be done. The document advocates working with neighbors and code enforcement to address concerns and recognizes that in some situations the chickens will be leaving.

The experimental document should be viewed as a first step in coping with the threat of losing one's birds due to a complaint, and suggestions are welcomed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Next CLUCK Meeting: Weds Mar. 21

If you believe residents of unincorporated Sarasota County should be allowed to have a few hens, come join us Wednesday March 21st at the Florida House (4454 Beneva -- on the west side of the road north of SCTI and Proctor Road and south of Wilkinson) for our next meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. 

TAMPA Rethinks Hens

Manatee County is thinking about it. Pinellas just did it. And now Tampa is rethinking its approach to backyard chickens. On March 2nd the Tampa Bay Times asked: "Has the urban chicken's time finally come?" That news story pointed out that while Tampa (technically) allows urban chickens, there is a 200 foot setback requirement that means virtually all urban and suburban lots don't qualify. And the Tampa Tribune, via Tampa Bay Online, confirms that the City Council will discuss the issue March 15th. 

Hillsborough County Citizens for Backyard Poultry have an online petition and will likely get involved, even though their main focus is the unincorporated county. They had 162 signatures on March 6th. Here's a link to their Facebook page.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Help 4-H, Help Kids, Help Chicks, Help CLUCK

CLUCK has received a request from Janie Besselman who will be helping Robert Kluson with the Small Animal Tent  during the Sarasota County Fair.  Last year CLUCK helped staff the tent and it was a great experience for all--excited kids, curious teens, beautiful chickens and baby chicks. (And, if it was like last year, volunteering gets you in the Fair for free.) What I like to do is help out for a couple of two hour shifts and then enjoy the fair.

Sarasota County Fair Dates    March 16th thru March 25th  
Fridays – 2 to 11 pm*
                                                                                                                       M-Thur    2 to 10 pm*
                                                                                                                        Saturday 12 to 11 pm*
                                                                                                                        Sunday    12 to 10 pm*

*Note these are the times that the Fair is open to the public. 

Some volunteer slots may already be filled, so contact Janie
at 941-232-8420 or Robert at 941-232-3090 to see what is still available.   

This is just another way local CLUCK can promote successful, responsible chicken ownership in Sarasota County. 

Glenda "Janie" Besselman
Administrative Specialist
Sarasota Soil & Water Conservation District
University of Florida/IFAS Sarasota County Extension Services
Sarasota County Community Services
USDA-NRCS Manasota Service Center
6942 Professional Parkway, East
Sarasota, FL 34240
941.907.0011 (office)
941.907.0015 (fax)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Chickens Don't Think I'm Weird: The Therapeutic Value of Chickens

A Nanci L. Valke story visible online at insidebayarea covers the poignant story of a nine-year old boy in Clayton California who has Tourette's syndrome. His tics are repellent to potential neighborhood playmates, but his five hens, (Chickadee, Peach, Daisy, Brownie and Daphne) are a comfort. "The chickens, they don't think I'm weird." 

He's lucky because the town has allowed the family to keep the chickens, but only because the birds minimize the boy's symptoms. 

This is not an isolated instance. Many chicken owners find spending time with their birds to be calming and it is not uncommon to hear references to "chicken TV". Chickens seem to balance what is attractive about pets (tameness, come when called, eager to see you, antics) with wild behaviors (foraging, dustbathing, asserting dominance) that provide insight into avian behavior. So a late afternoon spent in their company is both entertaining and informative.

It is indeed unfortunate when children with special challenges and attachment to their chickens are denied the therapeutic value of their company. Hats off to Clayton California.

Friday, January 13, 2012

CLUCK celebrates first anniversary of city chickens and plans county strategy

One year after final passage of the changes to Sarasota city ordinances to once again allow chickens, CLUCK supporters will gather commemorate our success and re-dedicate ourselves to a campaign to relax restrictions in the unincorporated county (and North Port).