DENVER URBAN HOMESTEADING

Our market assistant Elizabeth only

buys used clothing, raises chickens,

grows fruits and vegetables, and

repurposes all her waste. Her motto 

of life is "Do what you can with what

you have where you're at."

A true urban homesteader.

Chickens  

2015 SPRING CLASSES NOW SCHEDULED.  SEE CLASSES PAGE.  Learn chickenkeeping, beekeeping, worms, permaculture, restoring wood, goatkeeping, urban homesteading, Angora rabbits

 

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"CHICKEN SWAP"  Promoting backyard happiness.   Come here the first Saturday of every month from 10-noon to buy and sell chicks, chickens, ducks, goats, geese, turkeys, rabbits, quail and more.

Rhode Island Reds in waiting.          Where can I find some greens around here?   Fowl for sale.

 

Oh how soft the bunnies are!                Now I have my own chicks!                  Ducks walkin' here. 

Two sweet things enjoying each other                            Expert chicken and duck wrangler, age 5!         

We hold a Chicken Swap every first Saturday of the month, i.e. 12 months a year.  They are held in the in the parking lot of Earthdog Denver, 370 Kalamath Street, Denver, Colorado. 

This is a great way for people to meet, talk, share information and buy and sell chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, goats and other small animals.  Also for the just curious or those considering having a new pet.  We made history when goats were sold at our market on October 1, 2011.  They were very cute baby goat kids. 

And always we remind people to be considerate and compassionate to our animal friends, and it is a must that you learn about them and have proper housing before taking one home.  We offer the swaps as a community service free of charge.  But please note this is a Buyer Beware and Seller Beware market.  It is Buyer Beware because there is no proof of what you are buying other than what you see and the reputation of the seller as you perceive it to be.  We don't register sellers or have a veterinarian on staff to certify the breed or sex you are getting.  Some sellers are are regulars and come every month; others are not.  It is Seller Beware because city buyers are more emotional about their animals and less experienced in dealing with them than country buyers.  Also, big box stores have shaped most consumers' minds to think that they can return any products they don't like for any reason, and we know that most of you do not take animals back.   Parking lot is only for vendors.  And if you like these events and the other free events we host for the public, then support us and support our farmers at our market.  We don't get any government grants or donations and we can only survive and do these community events if the community supports us.

We also sell organic chicken feed, goat feed, diatomacious earth, oyster shell, feeders and waterers.  We have chicken- and goat-keeping classes from January through June.  We have a "chicken recycling" service in which we will take your chickens for a fee after their egg-laying years have peaked and humanely process them, returning the meat to you or processing them into dog treats.  See the FAQ below for more details.

OPERATION QUACK RESCUE

This duck and geese rescue operation occurred in March 2012 after a family contacted Denver Urban Homesteading because they needed help relocating 300 ducks and 40 geese due to a family illness which made it difficult for them to care for the flock.  We found good homes for all of them.

 

CHICKEN, GOAT AND DUCK FAQ

Can I have chickens in Denver?

As of June 2011, Denver now allows each lot to have up to 8 chickens and ducks (total of 8) and 2 dwarf goats.  These must be females, although there some brief exceptions for newborn male goats and neutered goats.  A one-time license is issued by the Denver Animal Shelter for $25; you must go there and get it.  All you need is $25 and a drivers license.  Their address is 1241 W. Bayaud Ave, Denver, CO (near Alameda and I-25).
 

As of January 3, 2012, the Denver Animal Shelter posts the following on their website at http://www.denvergov.org/denveranimalshelter/DenverAnimalShelter/FAQ/tabid/434759/Default.aspx  Click on the title Food Producing Animals Ordinance.

Food Producing Animals (FPAs) Ordinance (CB11-0151) was adopted by the Denver City Council on Monday, June 20, 2011.  The ordinance is effective on Friday, June 24, 2011, and includes changes to the Denver Revised Municipal Code, Chapter 8 - Animal Control, Chapter 36 - Noise Control, and to the Denver Zoning Code.

In summary, the ordinance allows for up to 8 chickens (no roosters )  or ducks (no drakes) (or any combination of such fowl), plus 2 dwarf goats to be raised on a property, provided a “restricted livestock or fowl license” is obtained from the Department of Environmental Health / Animal Care and Control (ACC) Division.  Licenses are issued in-person by Animal Care and Control, located at 1241 West Bayaud Avenue, Denver, CO.

NOTE:  Starting Friday, June 24, 2011, ACC will issue the restricted licenses subject to the licensee’s future payment of a fee (they will be billed) and compliance with any future rules and regulations adopted by DEH.  DEH adoption of a license fee and additional rules is targeted for August 2011.

For more detailed information about the new FPA ordinance and the specific standards adopted, please click here.  Additional information is also available by calling Denver 3-1-1.
 

Also, this is from the Zoning Ordinance:

No more than 8 chickens and ducks combined per zone lot.

No structure used to house the animals may be closer than15 feet to: (1) a structure on an abutting zone lot containing a dwelling unit, and (2) a dwelling unit not the residence of the animal keeper(s) and located in a primary structure on the same zone lot.

On any residential zone lot, the animals shall be maintained in the rear 50% of the Zone Lot Depth.

Slaughtering of the animals as part of keeping such animals is prohibited.

What if I want more than 8 chickens or turkeys or an alpaca, etc.?

You can use the old permit law for this.  The process involves getting permits from Animal Control and Zoning, $150 for a first annual fee and no objections from your neighbors.  Annual renewal fees are $70.

I live outside of Denver. What are the laws in my city?

Information on the laws in other nearby cities are at www.denverbackyardfarms.org (another website we created when we began the campaign to change the chicken laws in Denver in February 2009 but haven't had time to transfer here).  The list may not be entirely up to date; the best way to check is to call your zoning department.  Aurora Councilwoman Melissa Miller is leading the way to make chickens legal in that city.  Citizens in other jurisdictions that do not allow chickens periodically contact us to seek advice in changing their laws, so email me, James Bertini, if you want advice on how to change the law in your jurisdiction.  My email address is at the bottom of the Home page.

Do I need a rooster to have eggs?

No.  A rooster is only needed to have fertilized eggs.  Hens (female chickens) lay eggs as do other female egg-carrying species.

For how long will a chicken lay eggs?

This depends on the breed, but often peak capacity goes for 2-3 years until it begins to taper down.  Although we have had two hens for four years who are still going strong.

What do I feed the chickens?

Chicken feed, of course, and we sell organic chicken feed at Earthdog Denver, 370 Kalamath Street, Denver.  We also sell organic goat feed.  You can go to feed stores out-of-town to buy conventional feed, which is cheaper than our organic feed.  By my wife and I think that if we are going to raise our own eggs, we want to eat eggs that have no chemicals, pesticides and herbicides in them.  And that is the reason we use organic feed (and the reason we decided to stock it and sell it for others).  So we shopped around and found feed from a mill that solely grinds organic feeds (some mills grind organic and conventional feed using the same equipment) using only grains sourced in the United States.  It is Modesto Milling in Modesto California, www.modestomilling.com.  They even have a line of soy-free feeds where the protein comes from sesame seeds.  (All the other soy-free feeds we have investigated use fish meal for protein, but there are no organic certifications for fish.)

The feed comes in biodegradable sacks, and each sack lists the ingredients, nutrition information and protein percentages so you can be sure of what you are buying and feeding to your chickens. 

But you can also feed your chicken most kitchen scraps and garden wastes.  This cuts down on your feed costs in the spring, summer and fall, and the chickens love to eat our vegetable trimmings, stale and moldy bread, spoiled milk and yogurt, burnt popcorn kernels, weeds and grasses...the list goes on and on. 

What about odor and noise?

Hens make very little noise, and roosters are not allowed in Denver nor in most cities.  Manure odor is minimal for the small number of chickens most people are likely to have in the city. 

Is the manure good fertilizer?

It is excellent fertilizer, and high in nitrogen.  In fact the nitrogen level is so high that it could burn your plants if you put it directly on them, so you should let it age for a period of time.  We clean our the coop and run periodically and put everything (the manure and straw that we spread in the coop to absorb it and the plants left in the run that they didn't eat) on our compost pile.  Then in the spring we use the compost for fertilizing the garden.

Where can I buy a chicken coop?

You can build your own coop if you have time, carpentry skills and money.  If you are short on the first two, then you can buy a coop.  Many coops are sold online.  We have sold them at our market in the past, but for a variety of reasons we will no longer carry them.

 Do I need to heat my coop in the winter?

Think about this: chickens have lived on farms in colder climates than Denver without heat.  We have heard that there are certain instances when toes or big combs (the part that sticks up from the head) can become frostbitten in very cold weather.  We have a heat lamp in our coop that we keep on all night during the coldest nights.  Otherwise we use the lamp to give them light until about 9pm during the winter to keep their egg production up.  Chickens' egg production is tied to the amount of light they receive during the day.

Will my pets bother my chickens?

For dogs, it depends on the breed and character of the particular dog.  Retrievers are often not good with them while working breeds, herders and shepherds seem to be protective of them.  For cats, well, there is a cat here that knows he will get pecked by the chickens if he dares to bother them (although the cat would likely have eaten them when they were chicks).  But some other more aggressive cat could bother them.

How likely is it that other predators will bother my chickens?

This depends on where you live in Denver, as some people live near a river or other natural corridor or park and are more likely to be visited by a fox or raccoon or skunk than others.  The safest and most convenient setup is to have a solid coop connected to a predator-resistant run.  The run is the outdoor area for the chickens.  If the run is protected and connected to the coop, then the chickens can freely go from the run to the coop and vice-versa without you having to close them into the coop every dusk (and let them out every morning) and be protected the entire time.  And the best way to make the run predator-proof is to use solid wire, such as rabbit wire (chicken wire can be ripped by a big raccoon) and run it down into the ground past the bottom of the run to about one foot below the soil surface.  This will keep out the foxes who, like dogs, will dig at the edge of the run where it meets the soil to get underneath.  They give up quickly when they can't get past the wire screen. 

We live in the 400 block of Kalamath Street, not far from the South Platte River, and we have foxes test our defenses on a periodic basis in the evening.   (But once a fox killed most of our neighbors chickens and ducks that were running freely in the yard.  The killing took place on a summer morning at about 8:30-9AM.)  We also occasionally see evidence of raccoon visits and we have personally met some inquisitive and non-aggressive skunks (non-aggressive to us, but they would surely kill chickens, which they do by biting off their heads).

We sell fox urine and coyote urine at the market, which will ward off all the mammal predators we are likely to encounter in Denver (except for fox, which are apparently not afraid of coyotes).

What do I do with my chickens when they are old and their egg production goes down and I want to get new ones?

The natural way of dealing with old chickens is to eat them as our grandparents did.  The meat will not be as tender as you are used to eating, but you can make very good broth and soup out of the meat.   We don't know all of the local jurisdictions that allow or ban slaughtering, but we do know that Denver recently banned it in most zone districts (they did this as a political compromise when chickens were legalized in 2011, not because there was any problem with the practice).   We offer classes on chicken slaughtering in the summer.

You can also have a veterinarian euthanize a chicken.  One of our chicken-keeping teachers, John Beauparlant, paid $117 for this service from his vet, which included the cost of transportation and incineration.

You can utilize our CHICKEN RECYCLING SERVICE.  For a fee, we will take your chickens, process them humanely and legally and then return the meat to you frozen.  This process respects the animal and even reuses the feathers for compost!  (Most chicken slaughtering operations waste the feathers.)  For obvious reasons, we cannot accept chickens if you know that they have an illness.   We don't expect to get rich providing this service, but we do it  in the spirit of finding solutions to our backyard food-production needs and because we are trying to create successful business models for our market, our homesteading school and  services like this one.  So if you want to help us and you need this service, then allow us arrange end-of-life issues for your chicken and know that by doing so you will be part of the solution. 

HERE'S HOW IT WORKS
DROP OFF
Customers can drop off their chickens for processing every month at our Chicken Swaps, which are held on the first Saturday of every month from 10-noon at 370 Kalamath Street.
 
Customers should deliver their chickens in humane carriers.  If the carriers are to be returned, they should be marked with the owner's name.
 
PICK UP
The frozen meat will be available the following week when the market is open at Denver Urban Homesteading, 200 Santa Fe Drive.  (Current open days are: Thu, Fri 3-7 and Sat 9-3.  We may expand hours soon.)  Meat left more than one week may be disposed of.  Be sure to pick up your carrier at that time if you brought one that is to be returned.
 
FEE
The fee is $25 per chicken, or $20 per chicken for five or more.  The fee can be paid inside the office by cash, check or credit card at the time the chickens are dropped off.   CURRENTLY THIS SERVICE IS SUSPENDED.

Are there any rescue organizations that will take our chickens, etc?

We are often asked if there are rescue organizations for chickens, so we did some research online and here is what we found from the organizations’ websites.  All of these are 501c3 tax exempt organizations and so naturally they accept donations.

NAME, CONTACT INFO

KINDS OF ANIMALS RESCUED

ORGANIZATIONAL TONE

AVG ANNUAL REVENUES OVER 5 YRS

RESPONSE TO EMAIL INQUIRY BY US

 

 

 

 

 

 Black Forest Animal   Sanctuary, Black Forest,      CO (NE of Co Spgs)

www.bfasfarm.org

Horse, dog, cat, rabbit, fowl, goat, llama 

Family farm.   Always needs volunteers. Encourages adoptions of its animals.  Visits by appointment only. 

$63k

“We are a resource for all animals depending on our current funding and space.”

 

 

 

 

 

 Peaceful Prairie  Sanctuary, Deer Trail, CO (E of Denver)

www.peacefulprairie.org

Fowl, sheep, pig, cow, goat

Owner is a vegan advocate and has a lot to say about factory farms, where most of its animals come from.   Wants to discourage ownership of animals.  Doesn’t allow adoptions; doesn’t allow sale or consumption of its animal products, such as eggs.  Visits not encouraged.

$100k

No response, but their website states: “We receive countless calls from people who suddenly realize they have one or more roosters and expect sanctuaries to relieve them of that responsibility. Sadly, we can only accept a small fraction of the thousands of roosters we are asked to take in.”  The site also states that they will consider taking a rooster for a $100 donation and a signed agreement never to own a farm animal again.

 

How can I learn more about chickens and goats?

We host chicken-keeping and goat-keeping classes in the spring and summer beginning in January.  Also from January through October we hold Chicken Swaps where you can buy and sell chicks, chickens, ducks, rabbits and more and talk to the farmers and backyard farmers raising them.  Once a year in the fall we hold the Denver Chicken Coop Tour and you can visit homes in the Denver area that have coops and wonderful gardens and get ideas for your own. 

What if I want to buy local chicken eggs or chicken meat?

At the Denver Urban Homesteading year-round, indoor farmers' market our farmers sell a variety of chicken products.  Windsor Dairy sells organic, free-range, non-soy eggs.  Ranch Foods Direct sells eggs from Wisdom Poultry, a family-run poultry farm out east.  They also sell whole chicken and parts from Wisdom Poultry.  Their birds are not raised organically but they are free range and not factory farmed.  And Denver Urban Homesteading sells backyard farm-raised chicken and duck eggs.

Goats. What about goats?

We had a goat once and loved it.  Goats are wonderful pets.  However, if you want them for milk know that you have to breed them regularly, which means they will produce offspring regularly which you must care for and which you cannot keep since you are limited to two goats in Denver.  Also, you have to milk the goats every day, and often twice a day, without fail.  But of course the milk is very healthful.  If you want goat milk but don't want to produce it yourself, we do have raw goat milk as well as pasteurized goat milk available from local farmers who come to our indoor, year-round farmers' market at Denver Urban Homesteading.

We offer classes on goat keeping.

And ducks?

Ducks are sweet, and they make a soothing quack quack noise.  Duck eggs are popular with some.  Ducks need water to swim, and they are messy.

   

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Last updated: 12/18/14.