Hens; Pets With Benefits

The Hens in Lakewood group is a bunch of Lakewood neighbors who want to keep backyard hens as useful pets. The information in this article comes from several reputable scientific and governmental sources, such as the United States Department of Agriculture, The Ohio State University, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and others. We are hoping to inform our fellow neighbors who may not be too sure of this idea. Many of our neighbors say "of course, this is SO Lakewood" or 'Lakewood is behind the times by not allowing residents to keep hens". But others aren't too sure yet. To these neighbors we say thanks for reading, and thanks for keeping an open mind. Here are some answers to some questions the Hens in Lakewood group has received.

Do backyard chickens stink? Actually, chickens are naturally clean animals. They dust bathe and preen to keep feathers healthy and clean. Chickens living in factories don't get the chance to follow their instincts and keep clean, which is where this misconception comes from. But, what about the droppings? The great thing about chickens is that they don't produce much waste. A small flock of hens produces less waste than 1 medium sized dog. Also  the droppings are high in nitrogen and they compost quickly. This virtually eliminates the odor, and the compost does wonders for the veggie patch!

Are chickens loud? Yes and no! Roosters are loud, but we don't want them anyway. According to a study by OSU, chickens cluck at the same volume as a human conversation, between 60-70 decibels. But, my neighbors dog barks all night! Well then you should welcome hens. Hens put themselves to bed at night at dusk, and stay quiet until they lay an egg the next morning. During the morning, hens are the loudest, inside their coop (60-70 decibels), but you'd have to be standing nearby to hear them.  

Will I catch bird diseases? Thre is no evidence of chicken to human transmission of bird flu inthe United States. Salmonella can be spread by many  pets. Everyone should wash their hands after handling chickens, hamsters, lizards, turtles, cats and dogs. 

My neighbors don't take care of their dogs, how will Lakewood residents know how to properly care for hens? It's sad that many people go into pet ownership uneducated and then become overwhelmed. Wouldn't it be nice if people were required to receive education on their pet of choice before they acquire them? Well, with the current ordinance, prospective hen keepers are required to receive education prior to receiving their permit. 

What will happen if the chickens get sick? Lakewood Animal Hospital veterinarian and hen owner Dr. Barney has agreed to see sick birds. There are also several poultry experts in Lorain county that can assist if needed.

What about abandonment? Do they take chickens at the animal shelter? The Hens in Lakewood group has made the connection just in case this happens with Pet's General Store. Pet's General has agreed to accept foster hens while they are rehomed.  

Isn't Lakewood too densely populated for this? Over 65% of major US cities all ow backyard hen keeping including Pittsburgh, Boston, New York City, Denver, Columbus, Chicago, Cleveland. Living next door to someone with hens should not have a negative impact  on your life. There have been very few issues in the cities that allow hens. 

The fact of the matter is that many cities have come before Lakewood, with adopting ordinances to allow responsible hen keeping. A member of our group, a lawyer who has published a law review on urban agriculture has extensively studied the policies of other cities, and communicated directly with over 40 cities to find out if they had issues after they started allowing residents to keep hens. Several cities cited that neighbors had come forth with concerns before the ordinances passed. But, once they went into effect, there were not major issues. The current legislation for a hen pilot is a responsible one. Let's support our city council to pass this ordinance. Thank you. If you have additional questions or comments please feel free to find the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LakewoodOhioHens

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Volume 10, Issue 19, Posted 9:08 AM, 09.24.2014