The vote was closer, but Hamilton City council still turned down a motion by Ward three councillor Nrinder Nann to allow a limited pilot project to allow people to keep hens in Wards 1,2 and three. The councillor had argued that her request was for staff to prepare a report on what a pilot project might look like. What was being suggested was a pilot project that would limit any hen-keeping to 4 birds per property.
Councillor Lloyd Ferguson took council through an extended tutorial on the defecation habits of hens, how hen feces have a high nitrogen content which creates a significant odour problem. He also raised the issue of vermin being attracted by chicken feed. He then raised the issue that as hens age they lay fewer eggs until they stop laying eggs altogether, but that backyard hen-keepers keep them anyway, thus increasing the size of the flock over time.
In the end, Councilor Nann was able to turn around a few votes on the issue, but the vote was still lost on a 12-6 count.
Catherine Martinko is a writer and expert in sustainable living. She holds a degree in English Literature and History from the University of Toronto. In a recent article on the Treehugger Blog she explained why, after having backyard chickens, she eventually gave them up. “I began to struggle with two issues: the poop and the confinement. A friend had warned me that chickens are filthy, but I didn’t take it seriously. After several months, though, I understood. Chickens might be egg machines, but they are poop tornadoes. It was an endless battle, possibly made worse by the fact that they had to live within a fenced area (bylaw rule); it kept the poop contained, but it also led to accumulation, compaction, and problems with odor, despite my regular efforts to clean and shovel. When the kids were doing chores, chicken poop got tracked onto the walkway to our house and into our mudroom and became a source of tension. Maybe someone else would do a better job at staying on top of the mess, but I found it overwhelming. “