Big Turn Out For "Hens In Lakewood" Coop Tour

Curious visitors flock around the Stahlheber Burgoyne coop.

Sunday, September 20th was a brilliant, sunny, afternoon and perfect weather for the Hens in Lakewood Coop Tour. Over 150 people showed up to see first-hand how the city of Lakewood's hen pilot project is working. Nine of the eleven families who are in the hens pilot had a great time educating the visitors who came to their yards about all things hens.

Common questions were:

1) Why do you want them? To have your own eggs from hens fed and treated well.

2) Don't you need a rooster to have eggs? No. You only need a rooster if you want a fertilized egg.

3) What breeds do you have? There are many breeds perfect for our climate including Buff Orpington, Plymoth Barred Rock, Australorp, Golden Comet, Golden Laced Wyandotte, and others.

4) Do they have names? Yes. Most of our families have named their hens.

5) Are they noisy? No. Only occasionally for a brief moment when the hen finally lays her egg.

6) Are they difficult to care for? No. Some basic knowledge, however, is essential.

7) What do they eat? Chicken food and table scraps.

8) Do you have to heat the coop? No. It's all about choosing the right breeds for our weather.

There were a number of visitors who joined the tour by bike and even a few from other nearby suburbs who would like to change their city ordinances to allow backyard hen-keeping. All of the visitors were excited to see the progress of Lakewood's pilot up close. One of the most positive outcomes were the conversations the pilot families had with neighbors. Jan Dregalla said, “I met two neighbors that I had never met before.” I had seven neighbors on my street stop by to visit my hens and see our set-up. Hens really are an amazing way for a street to get to know each other as they become a source of interest for young and old alike. In fact, another frequently asked question was if children like the hens and if they help out. Yes, they love them and yes they do help out! My daughters and their friends love to feed and pet the chickens. Many people were surprised to see that hens have very unique personalities and how different they look. Each pilot family has at least 2 to 3 breeds and some are quite beautiful. Some visitors commented on the different color eggs they lay including light blue and rosy brown. Coop tour visitors noticed how quiet and clean the hens are and how there is very little odor. Each family has a slightly different style of coop and run. Cory Webber said, “I received so many compliments about the construction of my coop; I was on cloud nine all day!” Time and again friends, neighbors and visitors shared how much they appreciated the families opening their yards to share the progress of the pilot project. And finally, many visitors expressed an interest in having their own hens and wanted to know more about when they would be able to do that.

In November 2014, City Council passed a resolution creating this pilot project to test-drive how responsible backyard hen ownership would work in Lakewood. The resolution allows for a maximum of 12 families with no more than 6 hens. Each coop and run must be built according to city standards, meeting setback requirements and each prospective hen owner must take a course in backyard hen raising. The Lakewood Hen pilot project lasts till the end of June 2016. There are 11 families in the pilot. If a permanent ordinance is not passed by the end of June 2016, they will no longer be able to keep their hens. So, the next step is getting an ordinance passed by City Council that would permanently allow responsible back-yard hen ownership, and also offer the opportunity for other Lakewood residents. The important thing about a pilot is the ability to learn from these 11 families, and draft a law based on best practices and real experience. Anyone who is interested in backyard hen-keeping and/or who would like to be part of the next steps in achieving a permanent ordinance, please join the Hens in Lakewood Facebook group www.facebook.com/LakewoodOhioHens or email us at lakewoodhens@gmail.com.

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Volume 11, Issue 22, Posted 2:57 PM, 10.27.2015