Voice of the Land
Chickens in the Landscape…Lay on the Design!
So, you’ve hatched the idea of chickens in your backyard. Sounds simple enough. But, where do you start?
This comes first. Know the law! Be sure to check your local regulations about keeping FPA’s, or Food Producing Animals, on your property. Many cities and jurisdictions have very specific laws and guidelines regulating numbers of animals, size and locations of their shelters, and some require that permits be issued.
In the City and County of Denver, for instance, a household can apply for the $20 permit that will allow up to eight hens or female ducks and two dwarf goats. No roosters or male ducks, fearing they would be noisy even if they don’t bark. Each animal must have at least 16 square feet of permeable space (that’s not concrete or asphalt) and the area for the animals is required to be in the rear 50% of the property. Structures should be no larger than “the average doghouse”. Different suburbs around Denver have different regulations, or disallow the birds entirely. Some do not require permits.
Of course, there is a veritable hen house full of information with simple searches on line. One of the best sites is UrbanChickens.org. There you will find most of what you need to know about the birds themselves, different types, raising tips, feeding tips, sites and links to multiple suppliers of feed, birds and supplies, handy cleaning-up-after-the-birds stuff and connections to local urban livestock and farming organizations. You’ll even find information about “retiring” your birds.
You can also pick up the latest copy of the bi-monthly magazine, “Chickens”, at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver.
But, where will they live? Your landscape specialist, Art of the Land, can help you. With local regulations and requirements, but even more importantly with the proper design and location of the coop. The Hen House. The Bird Palace. The Lair for Laying.
Today’s coops are unlimited in design and function. We’ve seen veritable castles, coops that look like AirStream Trailers, and, even one designed like the Palace at Versailles. There are, of course, pre-fabricated coops available through a number of home improvement and on-line retailers. But, care must still be given to their appearance, size, placement, assuring proper spacing, drainage and cleanability.
You can close your eyes and picture a chicken coop. A box, raised from the ground, scattered with straw, a doorway to a ramp to the surface and maybe a fence to corral the birds. But, so much more can be incorporated here. Access for cleaning. Comfort for the birds. Shelter from the weather. Protection from predators and even household pets. Not all dogs and cats are particularly chummy with fowl.
Art of the Land are true architects and consultants. Custom design will assure that the structure will be compatible with the rest of your landscape design, certainly, and with your own home.
Call Art of the Land, for guidance, design ideas and estimates when you make the decision to raise chickens on your property, and for any other sustainable activity affecting your property. There is great enjoyment to be had from harvesting some of your own food…and even greater enjoyment from a well-designed yard functioning smoothly for all of your family’s needs. This healthy trend in Urban Agriculture can be easily incorporated into your own unique lifestyle and landscape design.