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Annapolis Educates Citizens About Raising Chickens

The city partnered with the Anne Arundel County Public Library to teach residents how to obtain a permit, build a coop and raise happy, healthy chickens.

Residents interested in raising chickens on their properties packed into a room at Wednesday night to listen to an educational presentation put on by the city of Annapolis.

Approximately 40 people filled nearly every available seat during the one-hour presentation. The four-member panel's topics ranged from how many eggs should a healthy chicken lay to how to build your coop so it meets City Ordinance 53-11.

"Some chickens are known to be kind of mean," said panelist Elizabeth Elliot.

"I've had Rhode Island Reds ... they are not very friendly chickens but they are great at producing eggs," Elliot said. "Some chickens like Brahmas are known to be very docile and good with children."

The Anne Arundel County Public Library system teamed up with the city to hold the forum after Annapolis City Council voted 6-3 in April to .

Jeanna Beard, environmental program coordinator for the city of Annapolis, walked residents through the permit process, which includes getting approval from all surrounding neighbors.

"There is $55 registration and inspection fee," she said. "It's a one time [fee] unless you want to add more chickens later."

She recommended applying for five chickens right off the bat.

Maryland Department of Agriculture's state veterinarian Guy Hohenhaus warned residents that home-grown eggs are tasty but "please don't sell them. You can give them away."

Hohenhaus said selling eggs without an approved license would violate Maryland egg laws, and it could make the seller liable if someone got sick from eating a bad egg.

Hohenhaus also spoke about frankly about how to dispose of a deceased chicken.

"You can put it in a double bag and put it in the garbage," Hohenhaus said.

If you're into composting, Hohenhaus also suggested burying the bird at least six inches deep in your pile and "after 30 days, you will be hard pressed to find as much as a feather."

Homewood resident Sarah Conway said she thought the disposal methods sounded a little grim.

She and her husband, Carle Conway, came to the meeting because their neighbor is hoping to purchase some chickens and they wanted to be informed.

"When they were deciding to do it, we were very pro the chickens, and we were lobbying our alderman and stuff," Sarah Conway said. "I'm just happy Annapolis is getting chickens." 

However, the final fate of chickens in Annapolis has yet to be decided. The law is set to automatically expire in 2015, and the council plans to review it prior to expiration.

Hohenhaus recommended residents who regret buying chickens "give up the chickens the right way early rather than letting the situation deteriorate."

He said he thinks the council will likely continue to allow chickens in 2015, but "the thing that would tend to prevent them from doing that is if they have a whole series of disaster stories."

Sarah Conway said the three-year evaluation period concerns her.

"It's not so much the investment in the chickens, but pay the $55 dollars and build the coop and get the neighbors to sign on on it," Sarah Conway said. "Yeah, the whole process, and then what do we do? Do we have to kill our chickens?"

Geoffrey Atkinson July 10, 2012 at 07:07 PM
This is great information. Kudos for the City for allowing chickens to be raised. I live in Baltimore County - my elected leaders are not nearly so progressive... at least when it comes to allow chickens!

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