Chickens belong to the subspecies Gallus gallus domesticus.  They have coexisted with humans for thousands of years.  

During the first and second world wars, the government even encouraged urban farming by way of backyard "Victory Gardens" in an effort to lessen the pressure on the public food supply. Until 1859, there were 50,000 hogs living in Manhattan. It's really only been over the last 50 years or so that we've gotten the idea that modernity and success and urban spaces don't involve these productive animals.    Source

Chickens do not have to be relegated to the farm.  In fact, by definition, they are "domesticated so as to live and breed in a tame condition."  There is no good reason why humans and chickens shouldn't coexist perfectly well in an urban environment. 

If anything, the massive factory farms where the vast majority of chickens live and die without ever seeing the light of day, are a significantly more unnatural place for them than urban backyards.  Most of us don't think about factory farming too much, because chicken farms don't exist near where we live, we aren't allowed to visit them and people who point out concerns with factory farming are often labelled as radicals, unrealistic or just plain loopy.  It's out of sight, and for most people, out of mind.

For the past two years, a group of concerned Windsor residents has been working behind the scenes to get the issue of backyard chickens on the table at City Council.

First we gathered a lot of information.  We went before the Licencing Commission,  chaired by Councillor Ron Jones.  They listened to our proposal, asked a number of questions, and said they would get back to us.

It took almost 9 months, but they finally produced a report with a recommendation that City Council form a working group to examine the matter more fully.  In their words:

This issue should be debated in an open and transparent manner, allowing for full consultation with residents.

You can read the background to their recommendation online at this link.  It is really worth looking at, because they did lot of research into the status of the urban chicken movement in Canada.

One common misconception is that roosters are needed for egg production.  Most people who are concerned about noise from chicken keeping, don't realize hens will lay eggs with or without roosters in the picture.  In fact, roosters are needed to fertilize eggs and grow baby chicks, but since we only want the eggs for consumption, we are not calling for roosters to be allowed in Windsor. 

Another misconception is that legalizing urban chickens will lead to massive urban chicken farms, with all the risks associated with factory farms.   This is most definitely not what we have in mind.  This is only about very small scale operations  - a handful of hens, sufficient to provide a family with eggs for their own personal consumption and maybe one or two to share with the neighbours.  When you consider that a healthy hen will lay one egg every single day, you will realize that two to four hens would be more than enough for even a large family.

So, in a nutshell (or should that be an eggshell?):  We're not asking for roosters or large broods.  Just hens, and eggs for personal consumption, not for sale. 


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Please keep the Windsor urban chicken discussion going! We love to 'read your constructive comments.