Nothing says spring has arrived quite like the sound of chirping baby chicks. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to raise chickens, you’re not alone, even in a suburb like North Royalton where it is allowed with an exemption permit.
“People like to know where their food comes from and urban farming and raising farm animals – chickens especially – is gaining popularity,” said Don Grace of Grace Brothers Nursery & Supply.
The season of “Urban Sustainable Living” has arrived at the family-owned nursery and supply store located at 12905 Ridge Road. Adorable baby chicks in a range of breeds are now available with ducklings to soon follow.
So just what are the rules in North Royalton when it comes to raising farm animals on your residential property?
“All fowl as well as other certain animals listed in the Zoning Code, are considered to be prohibited animals in North Royalton – that is unless you have an approved exemption permit from Animal Control. This includes ducks, chickens and bees as well as other animals such as pigs and goats,” said Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck.
The animal exemption permit –and accompanying $50 fee – includes a visit from Animal Control to see how and where the animals would be kept. The person asking for the exemption would have to meet all of the requirements pertaining to the keeping of prohibited animals, Marnecheck noted.
“I have residents who have raised chickens, goats, as well as birds. I have found it comes down to residents using common sense and communicating with their neighbors and working with their neighbors to keep community harmony,” Marnecheck said. “There is also talk at the state level of possible statewide rules which would preempt any local rules, so all of this could change.”
Brandy Kostyak of Grace Brothers grew up with chickens in the backyard and now owns chickens herself.
“To me, they’re like having a cat or a dog,” she said. “My chickens hang out with my dogs and I’ll hand-feed them. My one chicken hops onto my shoulder when I’m out gardening. They’re like having a dog around, just smaller. They’re super-intelligent little creatures and are great at keeping bugs and ticks away. Also, nothing goes to waste because you cut up all your scraps. Plus, with farm-fresh eggs, there’s a huge difference in taste.”
Chickens begin laying eggs at about 17 weeks of age. A hen will lay an egg about every 24 hours. With every chick purchase, customers at Grace Brothers receive a packet of information outlining how to feed, house and care for the animal. The store, which is also gearing up for its annual Community Supported Agriculture Program, has plans to host workshops on raising backyard chickens. Breeds include Plymouth Barred Rock, Golden Buff, Black Australorp, Rhode Island Red and Buckeye, among others. Egg color depends on the breed.
“I have Black Australorp and they lay brown eggs and I have Easter Eggs chickens that lay green and blue eggs that are real pretty,” Kostyak said. “With free-range, until you wash the eggs, you don’t have to refrigerate them because they have coating on them.”
Folks who own backyard chickens say nothing beats the taste of a freshly laid egg.
“You’re feeding your chickens so you know where your food is coming from – fresh eggs right from your own backyard,” Grace said.
Contributing Writer