Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2014 Tour de Coop!

Sunday, June 8, 2014, 2:00 p.m. - 1216 N Main Ave.

Get ready for the 3rd Annual Sioux Falls Tour de Coop!

Visit 5 backyard chickens, coops, and their keepers starting at 1216 N Main Ave.

Each tour stop will provide opportunity to ask questions and see a variety of urban chicken habitats and breeds. Then join us at the final tour stop to mingle with your tour-mates and enjoy refreshments.

The tour is free and open to the public. Maps to the other stops on this point-to-point tour will be handed out at the starting location. Carpooling is encouraged!

The tour is sponsored by Dakota Rural Action's Homegrown Sioux Falls Chapter. For more information about the chapter, the tour, or DRA, contact Heidi at

See you there!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

2nd Annual Tour de Coop!

Saturday, August 17, 2013, 12:30 p.m.

Meet your neighbor’s backyard flock at Dakota Rural Action's Sioux Falls Chapter's 2nd Annual Tour de Coop.

Visit 5 local backyard chickens, coops, and their keepers starting at 2217 W 18th St.

Each tour stop will provide opportunity to ask questions and see a variety of urban chicken habitats and breeds. Then join us at The Co-op Natural Foods to mingle with your tour-mates and help celebrate the Co-op's 40th Anniversary! Light food provided.

The tour is free and open to the public with the chance to sign up for door prizes to be given away at the Co-op celebration. Prizes include a subscription to Backyard Poultry Magazine, two $25 gift certificates to the Co-op Natural Foods, and two jars of jam from G & M Products.

The tour is sponsored by Dakota Rural Action, The Good Earth CSA, and Sisson Printing, Inc.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Chicken Ordinance for Sioux Falls!

We are happy to report that the Sioux Falls Urban Ag Taskforce ordinance proposal has been approved by City Council, making Sioux Falls one of the more progressive cities in the country when it comes to chickens! 

The ordinance was passed Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 by a 6-2 vote, with Councilors Jamison and Staggers opposing.  

The basics of the ordinance are that you can keep 6 chickens on your Sioux Falls property without a license. If you want to raise more than 6, or if you want to raise other kinds of fowl besides chickens, you need to get a petition signed by all of your neighbor's within 100 ft of your property line. (licenses will be granted by the city and issued at no cost for the first year, allowing time to determine an appropriate fee to cover administrative costs). 

Chickens are free to roam your yard, up to the property line, but coops must be located at least 25 ft from adjacent dwellings.

Click here for a link to the full ordinance. The only signifigant change that was made at Tuesday's meeting is the language regarding the percentage of neighbor approval--which was changed from 80% to 100% per an amendment brought by Councilor Entemann.

We hope this information is helpful as you move forward with plans for starting or expanding your backyard flock! 

If you appreciate the community organizing work that has been done around backyard chickens this past year, we invite you to join the Homegrown Sioux Falls chapter of Dakota Rural Action, the grassroots membership organization that spearheaded the urban chicken campaign.

You can find more info at or check out their Facebook page.

Please contact us if you have any other questions about the ordinance or about joining DRA.

Thank you for your help and support,

Wyatt Urlacher
Homegrown Sioux Falls

Thursday, August 9, 2012

1st Annual Tour de Coop! August 26, 2012

Sunday, August 26th
2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Starts at 809 E Presentation St.

Maps to the urban coops on display will be given out at the starting location.

At the final stop on the tour, stick around for the kick-off celebration of Homegrown Sioux Falls, Dakota Rural Action's newest chapter!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Meet the Flock: Jessica Tebben

Please tell us about your flock. 
Our flock consists of 9 hens.  Three production reds (Yoda, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca), a Golden Lackenvelder (R2D2) two Brahma mixes (Greta and Henrietta), and 3 Silkie Bantams (Thelma, Penny, and Winner). 

They pretty much free range in our backyard the majority of the day, under the watchful eye of my children and German Shepherd.  They are in the run when we are gone, and completely closed into our coop at night.  They all are very fun and have distinctly different personalities.  

I've earned the reputation amongst the flock as "the lady that brings the treats".  If they see me, they all run towards me.  It's pretty hilarious to see.

Your coop is a work of art. What’s the story of it ending up in your backyard? 
I actually bartered for the coop.  I am a doula, and have a client whose husband is a carpenter.  I saw a photo of one shaped like a barn that I liked, and he went off of that.  It was important for me to have a coop that looked nice, to minimize the chances of someone complaining that it was an eyesore.  Once it was built and in my backyard, I painted it and did some decorating. I have a penchant for cute things, so my hens have an adorable little cottage to call home.

Is there a certain life philosophy the led you to backyard chickens? 
We lead a pretty natural, holistic life in most aspects.  I also believe in the inherent worth of all living beings.  As more and more was revealed about how animals in factory farm settings are treated, I started looking deeper for ways to minimize our support of the industry.   I am also uncomfortable with some of the things that are put in our food, so we decided that owning our own flock was the best way to assure we were getting the highest quality egg possible. Not to mention the other agricultural and environmental benefits to having chickens--from garden fertilizer to reduced tick and other undesirable bugs in our yard. 

What do you feel is primarily driving more city dwellers to do this? 
I think people are starting to care more about where their food comes from, and what it contains.  Owning your own food sources guarantees you know what you're putting in your body.  I am seeing a surge in people wanting to be self sustaining since our economy is unstable. Having a backyard flock not only gives you food, but something to sell/barter in situations where that may be necessary. Also, chickens provide fun, endless entertainment.  

Some people think it takes a lot of work to care for and clean up after backyard hens. What has your experience been like? 
We have found it to be quite easy, actually.  We use the deep litter method, so the coop takes very little maintenance.  The nesting boxes themselves are cleaned out every other day.  Fresh food and water is the only thing that requires constant attention.  That and making sure all the hens look good and one or the other isn't getting picked on too much.  Our hens all get along really well.  Really, the biggest challenge is making sure the kids aren't pestering them.

Any thoughts on how people can serve as good ambassadors for the urban chicken movement
Be involved in organizations that are pro-chicken.  Keep your flock legal.  That's not too hard right now, but with possible changes in the future, I believe it will be of great importance to make sure you are following the ordinance, whatever it may be.  Someone acting outside the ordinance will shed negative attention on the chicken movement and potentially make it more difficult for those of us who follow the laws.  If you don't want to have your own flock, be supportive of those who do.  You don't have to have your own chickens to be involved!

What approach would you like to see the task force take in creating a more well-defined chicken ordinance? 
First, I think [the meetings] need more public exposure.  There are likely a lot of people in the community who have no idea that these changes are happening, and their input would be greatly beneficial.  

I haven't encountered anyone yet that thinks urban chickens shouldn't be allowed.  Most agree that they should be kept legal, but that the ordinance should be a little more defined--like the number of chickens, and whether roosters should be allowed.   I would also like to see meetings happening more frequently.  I like that the task force has been looking at other city ordinances for reference.  I am confident that we will be able to come up with something.

I would like to see some kind of number regulation, just to make sure that someone isn't keeping 100 chickens in their backyard.  What that number is, I'm not really sure.  Size of the property should probably play a part.  I think roosters should be permitted provided they are not violating the city noise ordinance.  I hate gender discrimination, even in chickens.  I heard the approval of 75% of neighbors being in agreement was brought up.  I think that's silly.  If we do that, we should have to get the approval to have dogs or cats as well.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Meet the Flock: Chastity Healy

What first got you interested in raising chickens?

I grew up on a farm and all through my childhood we had chickens, ducks, turkeys and even raised pheasants. I remember our chicken flock being anywhere from 30 to 50 hens with one or two roosters at any given time. We would collect the eggs everyday and fill a 30 dozen shipping case weekly during the warmer months. During the early 80s, this was the way eggs made it into the local stores—industrial laying facilities didn’t exist to my knowledge.

Another great memory was every spring my grandparents driving to the hatchery to get 150 chicks. They would raise these meat birds over the next eight weeks and then there was always a Saturday in early June dedicated to the butchering of these chickens. It was a family affair that included five families and when the day was done, everyone went home with their allotment of chickens for the year. I was a gizzard-cleaning champ in my younger years!

What breed(s) of hens do you have?

I had placed an order with a friend at the little hardware store in Parker because it was the only place we were aware of that allowed small orders (4 chicks for each of us). Originally I ordered two Buff Orpingtons and two Red Stars, but when I arrived to pick them up, the gentleman working that day was overwhelmed with this large shipment of many, many, “special order” small boxes—none of them labeled by the hatchery. He looked over all the “four chick” orders and then took his best guess and sent me home with four little yellow peepers. They all grew up to be Red Star. (We lost one early on to an overly curious puppy).

Why don't you just buy eggs from the store like everyone else?

If my hens stopped laying, I would again have to resort to the store variety, but I much prefer the more nutritious option found in my back yard.

What do your friends think of your decision?

Initially when I tell people, I get this crescendo response of “Whaaaat?” followed by a quizzical look. But then questions always follow and once I answer all the questions, people seem to be quite intrigued.

[. . .] My husband is a Sioux Falls city boy born and raised. Discussions about getting a backyard flock were always met with great skepticism. I never did get his blessing; I just ordered them and hoped for the best. When I brought them home, he agreed to tolerate them for a “one year trial”. Before long, he had them named Tereyaki, Buffalo and Barbeque. The one that we lost to the curious puppy was named Kung Pao. The hens have been laying three eggs a day since late August and my husband is the “egg collector”. When I inquire why he holds a grudge against the birds, but is eager to collect the eggs, his response is “Eggs are cool!”.

Do you think the idea of raising chickens in town is becoming more familiar to people?

I believe so; I feel there is a learning curve for everyone and for every person I encounter and tell about my flock of three, they then go to their friends and tell them about my flock. This natural progression of “my friend has 3 hens in her backyard” will eventually reach tens if not hundreds of people and I believe that over the next few years we will see an increase in the number of backyard flocks in Sioux Falls and the surrounding communities.

What do you do with all those eggs?

Eat them! Our favorites are scrambled, and various egg bake experiments (“What do we have in the fridge that needs to be used up today?”). Angel food cakes (eggwhites) and chocolate mousse (yolks) are also frequent desserts in the house. On occasion, I give a half dozen to one of the neighbors (every neighbor around our house knows of the flock and they send their kids over to see the chickens), or give some to friends or coworkers as small gifts of appreciation.

How do your hens handle this cold weather?

On very cold, windy, blustery days, the hens choose to remain inside their coop. I leave the hen door open so they get some light and can come out if they choose. During the really cold stretches, I allow the litter to build up by adding fresh bedding to the existing layers in an attempt to add a bit of warmth.

Can you tell us a little about your coop?

I spent numerous hours researching online coops design ideas. I finally found a design that best fit my needs and bought the blueprints for $17. Once I had all the materials, it took me a long three-day weekend to build it. It is three feet by three feet square and is water and wind resistant. I even used leftover exterior house paint to paint the coop, so it matches our house. There is a nice screened window on the front for the warmer months and the nest boxes are easy to access from the outside. If I had to do it over again, I would keep the same design concept, but make it slightly larger.

[. . .] One thing that has occurred in the last few months that was an unexpected result of keeping chickens is that the wildlife has become more abundant. We live in a fairly young neighborhood, so there are very few trees or critters.

Now that we have the chickens though, I’ve noticed an increase in the flocks of sparrows swooping in to clean up the scratch grains. With increased sparrows, we now have an American Kestrel visiting the yard and we also had an owl visit two times last month. Very exciting sightings for everyone in the neighborhood! The chicken’s little brains kick into evolutionary mode and they run to the coop for safety—so everyone has remained safe.

What would you like to see come out of the city's Urban Ag Task Force--especially with regard to keeping chickens?

I have attended all the meetings thus far, and I believe the task force is on the right track. Ultimately, I do think there needs to be some form of an upper limit on the number animals that can be kept on a property within the city; but I think that number (for all animals: chickens, goats, dogs, rabbits, etc) should be contingent on the size of the property.

I also think that exceptions should be allowed and these exceptions must be reviewed and approved by a governing board that includes city government officials as well as citizens. These exceptions must also have signed approval by all neighbors adjacent to the property interested in keeping the animals.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Poultry Profile: Crystal, Derald, and Detrian

How long have you been raising chickens?
This will be our third spring getting chicks, so I guess that means we are starting our third year!

Our meat birds (and a few buffs) in the expandable brooder made of a couple rolls of aluminum flashing.

What inspired you to start your flock?
I always wanted to have a little homestead thing going on so it was really just a matter of time. Starting on my Permaculture Design Course at Glacial Lakes Permaculture was the major push though.

Holding 'lefty' who's comb hangs to the left, (the other leghorn is 'righty' :) We don't name all of our chickens, just the ones that seem to have one.

What kind of chickens do you raise?
We currently have two leghorn hens, 3 Buff Orpingtons (one rooster two hens) and a Black Orpington (I think, either that or an Australorp) hen. We raised 20 cornish cross meat birds over the summer.

Our first flock in the summer area, including the beautiful rooster named 'supper' he's not around any more...

What is your property like?
We have 2.5 acres just on the edge of Sioux Falls. Much of what we do with the chickens takes place in the area surrounding our house that is the same size as a city lot would be.

The trampoline chicken tractor.

Do you butcher your own? What does that experience look like?
Yes, last year was our first time doing it but it went pretty smoothly and we plan to do it annually. It doesn't take long, a couple months of relatively easy basic care and then a day or two of processing. In the end you have a freezer full of chicken and you know exactly where it came from and how it was raised. The experience has given us a much greater appreciation for the meat we eat.

My husband Derald getting the knives sharpened .

Talk about your coop.
We built the coop for our egg layers with just a general idea of what we wanted and minimal building skills but it turned out great for us, we have an open air enclosure with a small hutch for the chickens to roost and nest in. The whole set up gets moved a few times a year so that we can collect the layers of deep litter for compost and have better wind and weather protection in the winter. For the meat birds we turned our trampoline into a chicken tractor with some plastic chicken wire, zip ties, and pvc pipe. The trampoline is light enough that we can drag it to fresh grass every few days without wheels.

The winter set-up including the new buffs the chickens also get to free-range for awhile, usually every day or so.

Tell me a little about the economics of your operation - do you save money?
I haven't really taken the time to sit down and do the math but I think we probably will be saving money overall once we've been doing everything for several years, so initially no, but long term yes. I consider any initial extra cost to be well worth some of the non-monetary benefits such as entertainment and gaining valuable skills etc.

25 birds at full size, still lots of room under the trampoline.

What do you see as the 3 biggest benefits to raising poultry?
Direct involvement in our food production, reduced dependance on commercial food sources, and the community / relationships that have developed from involvement with others who are doing it too.

Detrian (14) jumping on the Trampoline chicken tractor.

What would you say to people who want to see city chickens banned?
I can't imagine any reason why chickens should not be allowed in the city. Compared to any domestic animal chickens have no more issues or drawbacks. If our communities and society in general are going to move toward being healthy and sustainable we must begin the process of integrating the things that sustain us into our local communities and daily lives. Chickens are one step in that process.

Showing some friends how to gut the chickens, they got a chance to do it themselves later.