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Raising Chickens in Columbus, OH FAQFAQ: Raising Chickens in Columbus, OH

Why?

Why on earth do you have chickens?

Several reasons, chief among them that my husband became convinced that he wanted a hobby farm.  This from the man who hates spiders and bugs and nature and most hard work.  I suggested we start with some chickens in the backyard first.  Also, I like the idea of knowing where my food comes from.  And they’re cool pets.

Does your husband still want a farm?

No, not so much.

Who are you people?

Are you hippies?

Nope.

No, really, you’re hippies, aren’t you?

Nope.

Fine, you’re not hippies.  Are you survival nuts?

No.  We have a pretty extensive emergency kit, but that’s just sensible, considering that we live in an area that gets tornadoes, and the frequency with which our power goes out.

Tree-hugging commies?

We are fairly environmentally friendly, but not crazy about it, no.

Are all urban chicken owners like you?

Everyone has their own reasons for raising chickens in their backyard.  If you want to know why they do it, ask them!

Legalities

Are you legal?

Yes, I am over 18. Oh, you mean the chickens?  Yes, we have a permit from the Columbus Board of Health.

How did you get your permit?

Not the same way you will! When we applied for our permit, there was no real process for doing so.  With the increase in applications, the Board of Health veterinarian has put a process in place.  Go visit their website for more information. You can read about our process here.

Now that you have a permit, is that it?

Every year we have to submit a care and waste management plan, proof of health (which means a vet visit), and be reinspected.

Can I use your care and waste management plan?

No, but you’re welcome to take a look at it. Be assured that the Board of Health vet will know if you’ve just copied ours.

What do your neighbors think?

They’re cool with it.  We have a landlord on one side who’s not, but they went before the Board of Health with their complaint and it was dismissed.

The coop

Where did you get your coop?

We built it.

Where did you get the plans?

I looked around the internet for pictures, and then drew out what I wanted.

How much did it cost?

More than buying one, I assure you!  In retrospect, we probably would have saved several hundred dollars by buying one and making any changes we needed.

Don’t the chickens get cold in there in the winter?

Their house is better insulated than ours is.  Besides, we were sure to get chickens who were able to withstand the extremes of Ohio weather.

Do they get hot in the summer?

They do, but in the summer we put reflective insulation on the roof and install a solar-powered fan.

The chickens

Where did you get your chickens?

From a local woman who raises chickens.  I met her on the Backyard Chickens forum. The girls’ names are Nugget, Noodle, Dumpling, and Fricassee.

What kind of chickens do you have?

Three are mixed breeds and one is an easter egger. You can read more about them here.

Do you have a rooster?

No.  Our permit says that we can only have hens.  And besides, roosters are really noisy, and we don’t want that.

Can hens lay eggs without a rooster?

Yes, but there’s no chance they’ll be fertile.

Can I give you my chicken that I don’t want anymore?

No.  According to our permit we can only have four chickens.

How many eggs do you get?

Egg laying varies by age and season.  This year we seem to be getting 3-4 eggs per day from all four girls. We get fewer in the winter and as they get older.

What do you feed them?

Chicken feed from Tractor Supply, fruits, vegetables, and various leftovers.  They especially love weeds, yogurt, cheese, and pad thai. They get scratch grains as a treat.

Do they smell?

The chickens themselves don’t, but their crap does.  Keeping it cleaned up every day keeps both the smell and the flies down.

Flies?

Yes, if you have chickens, you’ll have flies. We use a fly trap, and that helps a lot.

How much work is it to take care of chickens?

About 5-10 minutes a day to clean up and feed them, then about 1-2 hours every few months to completely clean out the coop and run.

That’s it?

Yep, but remember, you have to do it every day, even when it’s cold, or raining, or hot, or you’re sick, or tired.

Is it true that chickens who eat raw eggs will crack open eggs?

Not in my experience.  We’ve had chickens lay eggs in the run instead of the nest boxes and they leave them alone.  But if I throw an egg down in the run and it breaks, they’ll happily eat it! They do accidentally break eggs and they’ll eat them then.  But they don’t do it on purpose.

Are chickens really cannibalistic?

Yes, they will peck at each other until they bleed.  Sometimes until they die. In my experience, the lighter-colored chickens seem to have it worse because blood is more visible on them.

Ew, really?

Yes.

What do your dogs think of the chickens?

They think we’ve given them the best live television show ever! They like to run up to the run and scare the chickens, but other than that, they’re fine with them.

Do you let your chickens roam around your yard?

No, because we don’t want chicken poop all over the yard because the dogs think its tasty and then they want to lick us.  That’s really gross.

Do you have problems with predators?

Our run is very secure, but we have raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and, of course neighborhood dogs and humans. So far we haven’t had any problems.

Do chickens get sick?

They can.  We’ve had to de-worm our chickens several times.

What vet do you take your chickens to?

We go to Animal Care Unlimited, who also take care of our dogs and parrot.

Are chickens friendly?

Some are, some aren’t.  You have a lot better chance of having friendly chickens if you hand raise them.  Of our chickens, Nugget and Noodle are the friendliest.

Me, me, me!

I think I want to get chickens.  Where should I start?

Read all you can.  Visit message boards and websites dedicated to chickens.  Find a vet.  Find out the laws where you live. Get educated.  Then get chickens.

Can I ask you more questions?

Sure.  Post a comment below and I’ll be happy to add them to the FAQ if appropriate.

18 comments to FAQ: Raising Chickens in Columbus, OH

  • So I don’t need a rooster and layers will still lay? I’ve been contemplating, it’s the chicken crap, winter and summer I worry about. I wanted a coop on wheels, to be able to move it. It’s the crap…

  • Hi! I just found your blog and I’m really getting into the whole idea of Urban Homesteading here in C’bus (Southeast side to be exact). These FAQ are great! I’m curious what “neighborhood” of Columbus you live in?

  • Heather

    Ha ha! This is comical….and informative of course!! Thanks for taking the time to throw this info out. I live in German Village and we are researching now to see if we can handle a few hens in our backyard!!

    • Dennis Valot

      Heather,
      Were you able to get your poultry operations set up okay? Are you limited to four hens? How was the City licensing experience?
      I live in German Village and am dying to get some chickens. If I can’t I’ll just move to the country!
      Thanks,
      Dennis

      • Heather

        Hi there Dennis!

        We did get setup in August of 2010. We were limited to 4 hens. Things went incredibly well- we completely ignored the permit or getting anyone involved because our closest neighbors were 100% supportive and easily took fresh eggs as hush money :)

        Sadly, in September of 2011, something got into our coop and got our hens. We grew very close to these girls- there is something special about caring for a creature that provides food to you. With that being said, we were heart broken and closed down our backyard coop. BUT! It was such a great experience, that we are putting our home on the market this summer and moving to the country!
        We are hopeful that by adopting a big dog to protect a farm will help us be a little more protected from any predators.

        Good luck with your chicken plans Dennis, I guarantee you two things if you do this- the best eggs you’ve ever had and 100% comical entertainment! ;)

        -Heather

  • Karyn

    I am in Whitehall and have found this to be such a chicken friendly place. Of course they won’t let you “dye young poultry colors” as was popular at Easter in the ’60s or slaughter in your backyard, I don’t have problems with these stipulations. They even have ORD on book dealing with dogs attacking properly housed poultry. Chickens are not allowed to make noise audible off property for more than 15 minuet bursts….no roosters for me!

  • Peggy

    I live in Clintonville and have been considering chickens. I have a huge yard and mostly nice neighbors, but my next door neighbor is pretty Dublin-ish (you know what I mean) so I will have to dot every I and cross every T. Thanks for this info! Please email, I would love to talk chickens with you.

    • imogene

      with all the permiting and restrictions I wonder if it would be worth it. I not against the work as am used to farm work. But I am currious at what this is going to cost me especially the vet bill. I recomend backyard chickens to everyone.

  • Tami

    Hi… we want chickens! We live south of Grove City on 5 acres! I’m dying to get them tomorrow! I’ve done a lot of research and your blog has been such a wealth of knowledge. BUT where do I buy these chicken’s? I feel uneasy about purchasing them at Tractor Supply… Where did you get yours?
    Thanks so much for all the info!

    • Jessica

      Tami, the answer to your question is actually in the FAQ. :)

      Where did you get your chickens?

      From a local woman who raises chickens. I met her on the Backyard Chickens forum.

      There are lots of resources at Backyard Chickens. I’d suggest asking there!

  • Country Boy

    Hello, everyone!

    I found this blog while researching urban chicken laws.

    We live in the country, and used to own a small (38 acres) farm. In 2010 a “perfect storm” of circumstances led us to sell it, and move to a smaller 11-acre place in neighboring Wayne County.

    Just a few weeks ago my two daughters teamed up with two neighbor girls to do a 4-H laying hen project. Well, guess what? Our next-door neighbor is raising a huge fuss because of some ancient, outdated boilerplate deed restriction language that prohibits chickens.

    FYI we still live in farm country, and there is agricultural land or woods on virtually every side of the neighbor. He’s one of those “binoculars” types who has a hissy fit if my dog craps in his perfect yard and I don’t immediately rush out to scoop it up.

    (He also objected to us using our home as a CSA pickup spot until I pointed out that no money changed hands and there was nothing he could do about it.)

    I’m not certain how it all will be resolved, but wanted to give everyone/anyone planning on “moving to the country” a heads up: CHECK THE DEED before you buy! Even here in farm country, when farms get parceled off, well-meaning lawyers (an oxymoron?) often include standard deed restrictions that can put huge hurdles in the way of would-be homesteaders.

    Good luck to you all, and look for our kids’ chickens at the 2012 Wayne County Fair!

  • Country Boy

    …I probably should add that before moving “back home” I lived in Westerville for 20 years, including about 14 years Uptown. Any one remember Brownie’s market or donut runs at Schneider’s Bakery?

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