The return of the backyard chicken coop is sweeping the nation as part of the trend for those who want to know where their food is coming from. Raising chickens ensures the freshest eggs possible as long as the property owners can get established in their community.
To help local residents get a coop up and running, Agland Coop, on Lisbon Street (U.S. 62) in Canfield is hosting Chick Days beginning on Thursday, April 19 and ending on Saturday as long as there are still chicks to be had.
"We have over 1,000 chicks coming in on Thursday through the U.S. Post Office," said Debbie Ellis, manager of Agland Coop. "They were hatched on April 18 and will be delivered in boxes."
She said most of the chicks will go to fill orders from local farmers, 4-H members and those who are set to operate a backyard coop. Once all the orders have been filled, the remaining chicks will be placed in a heated pen and offered for sale to the general public.
The event will also include experts who will be available to help someone get started in raising chickens. Before considering starting a coop, residents should first check with their local government regarding zoning and animal laws.
"Backyard and family flocks are growing in popularity as a way to grow your own food, even in urban areas," said Molly Boland from Purina Mills, who provides feed for chickens.
Urban areas within the area would include the city of Canfield and the village of Poland. Both are similar when it comes to raising chickens as both have no laws preventing it, but do have laws regulating it.
City of Canfield Zoning Inspector Ted Frazzini said zoning comes into play with regards to the coop. Since the chicken coop is a structure, it must pass the zoning regulations.
"Zoning doesn't prevent having chickens, but it does concern the structure to house them," he said.
He said one resident did go through the process of having a chicken coop design approved by the design and review committee. The resident, who lives near the middle school, is now reaping the benefits of fresh eggs.
The coop is the first step to owning chickens and should be the first thing to consider. Townships and well as cities and villages have regulations and design criteria that affect outside structures. In most cases, building a coop will require a permit and in some cases approval from the zoning board in that community.
Those living in a development that has a homeowner's association may want to check on the rules governing the development. The rules may prohibit outdoor animals of any kind.
Once a coop is approved and built, the next regulated area that a property owner needs to consider are the laws and regulations regarding animals. Canfield City Manager Joe Warino said chickens fall under the same rules as dogs in most cases. They cannot become a nuisance to the neighborhood.
Ellis said the biggest nuisance for an urban or suburban neighborhood would come from the rooster. It will wake everyone up with its morning greeting and thus may be considered a nuisance animal just like a barking dog. The Town Crier townships and cities all have ordinances against barking dogs and the roosters would fall under the same. Ellis did say a person doesn't need a rooster unless they are raising chickens.
"If you want to raise chickens you need a rooster," she said. "None are needed if you are just eating the eggs."
Another ordinance that is common in the area regards animals running at large. Again, dogs are the most common violation and communities do have leash laws stating the dog must be under control at all times. Chickens running loose on a property would be similar and could bring a citation.
In all cases regarding animal laws, the bottom line is that chickens cannot create a nuisance for neighbors. That would include noise, odors, and animals running at large.
One other important issue is use. Frazzini said as long as a resident is using the eggs for their personal use everything would be fine. If they tried to sell the eggs, they would become a business, which is not be permitted in a residential neighborhood.
Once a resident can meet the zoning requirements for the coop and can stay within the boundaries of local animal laws, they are then ready to buy chicks. At this weekend's Agland event, there will be experts on hand to answer questions regarding feeding and raising egg-layers.
"We'll have experts on hand to help a person get started," Ellis said.
As for those kids who are taking on a 4-H chicken project, Ellis said there will be a winning chicken among the 1,000 that arrived on Thursday.
"Somewhere in that bunch is a grand champion for this year's Canfield Fair," she said.