The Chickens are Back
By Ellen Moyer
In Annapolis the chickens are here to stay, live chickens that is, unlike the free-ranging hen of the recent Geico advertisement. The city’s 16-page rule governing the raising of chickens, to the disappointment of Foxy Loxy, even demands protection from predators.
Three years ago a bill introducing the temporary opportunity to raise chickens in our urban environment created a firestorm of protest. The City Council squabble resulted in an eventual celebration called “Hatching the Arts” with the installation of artful chickens in the city’s art district along West Street. Some people make fun of them. But I, for one, and my grandkids, enjoy cruising West Street to admire the chickens that also look like they too are here to stay for a while. Originally, “art chickens” were to be auctioned off this year when the live chickens were to be sent packing.
Since 2012, 16 families have acquired the approval of their neighbors, paying a $55 fee. They’ve purchased five chickens and spent a bunch of money for a chicken coop and, of course, the hens that produced fresh eggs for breakfast became pets. You have the picture, the law was made permanent and the chickens are cluck-cluck-clucking away to the delight of their humans.
Several years ago the City staff sponsored a training session to teach residents how to obtain a permit, the specifics of the law and provided some information on chickens themselves. Rhode Island Reds were considered great producers of eggs, but not friendly — a mean-spirited chicken. Brahmas, on the other hand, were considered docile and good with children.
Under Annapolis law 8:04 Animal Control, chickens cannot be roasted for a family meal. Eggs cannot be sold. Roosters are verboten. There is a five-hen limit. Bordering neighbors must approve. Site plans for location and design of the chicken coop are required. Residents can expect a visit from City DNEP inspectors to ensure the health and well-being of the hens. The Maryland Egg Law and Poultry Laws also have restrictions. It is not all that easy to raise chickens in Annapolis. The county operates on a different set of rules governing flocks of six or more. For detailed information on the specifics for the County log onto www.aacounty.org/AnimalControl/Resources/Chicken_Duck_Checklist.pdf
But, for city residents, if you have a hankering for fresh eggs and have room for ten square feet per chicken and just like the look of chickens from your kitchen window or deck, then chicken raising with all its requirements is there for you. The fox, coyote, eagle and even a black snake may target your yard. Never fear, your innovative, secure chicken coop will foil them. Your chickens will be happy and healthy and that once-empty carton of eggs will be filled to overflowing.
Ellen, former mayor of Annapolis can be reached at EllenMoyer@yahoo.com
According to an article in Mother Earth News, eggs from free-range hens, as compared to those purchased at your local market, contain:
• one-third less cholesterol
• one-fourth less saturated fat
• two-thirds more vitamin A
• two times more omega-3 fatty acids
• three times more vitamin E
• seven times more beta carotene
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