GOAT AND DUCK FAQ
Can I have chickens in
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.
As of January 3, 2012, the Denver Animal Shelter posts the following on
their website at
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
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
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.
And contrary to logic you can only get a permit in a residential zone
I live outside of Denver. What are the laws in my city?
Information on the laws in other nearby cities are at
(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.
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,
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
HERE'S HOW IT WORKS
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.
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.
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,
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.