28 de agosto de 2017

AVICULTURA : Se multiplican en Nogales y Patagonia gallineros domésticos


Condado de Santa Cruz, AZ.- Cassina Farley’s home in Patagonia is decorated with all things chickens: chicken-themed placemats, chicken sculptures and chicken-shaped baskets. And behind her home last Tuesday morning were the real deal: 15 differently colored and patterned chickens, relaxing in their coop or clucking as they explored her fenced-in backyard. Farley and other Santa Cruz County residents who own backyard chickens – birds that live next to homes as pets and whose eggs or meat are used by the family rather than for widespread sale – say they make excellent pets, produce delicious eggs, and are relatively affordable and low maintenance. 

 Farley, 42, began raising backyard chickens seven years ago out of concern for her health and animal welfare.

“What it really boiled down to is I watched ‘Food, Inc.’ and it freaked me out,” she said, referring to the 2008 documentary on factory farming. Farley, director of the Patagonia Creative Arts Association, said her chickens’ food costs about $16 a month.

As for management, she lets the birds in and out of the coop in the morning and evening, and has to regularly clean the coop and change the straw in the nesting boxes. She said although the birds can sometimes sound “like two women fighting,” her neighbors like the noises and occasionally peak over the fence to say hello.

 Farley said she enjoys collecting different breeds. “There’s something so beautiful about looking at a dozen eggs and seeing brown and white and green eggs,” she said. Fernando Parra, superintendent of the Nogales Unified School District and “the chicken man” to his three sons, said he also enjoys chicken noises, including his rooster’s 4:30 a.m. wake-up call. Growing up in Nogales, Parra was introduced to backyard chickens when his brother brought home a rooster one day and he helped find him a mate and build the pair a coop. Now, a rooster and four chickens live in a coop in the backyard of Parra’s home off East Ruby Road in Rio Rico.

 Parra, 50, said chickens make great pets because of their “calmness.” “They add a good ambiance to your yard,” he said. He said their diet of chicken feed, insects, and fruit and vegetable scraps helps produce delicious eggs, especially for his wife’s baking projects. “The yolk is extremely dark yellow, stronger looking” compared to store-bought eggs, he said. 

 Parra, who estimated he spends up to $10 a month on his birds’ food, said owning backyard chickens saves money for families who like to buy free-range eggs, which can sell for up to $5 a dozen. Like Parra, backyard chicken-owner Nisa Stover Talavera, 42, grew up with feathered friends – no matter where her family lived, in Tucson, Los Angeles or Connecticut. 

 Talavera’s seven chickens live in a coop and around her house on the Guevavi Ranch along South River Road in Nogales. “They’re kind of kooky and sassy,” said Mina, Talavera’s 10-year-old daughter. “They’re wonderful pets, they become part of your family … each chicken truly has their own little personality,” Talavera said. Reflecting their status as family members, each of Talavera’s birds are given unique names. Highlights throughout the years include Phridae, Athena, Penguin, Sweet Pea, Big Mama, and Laverne and Shirley.

 Talavera, who owns and operates the Hacienda Corona bed and breakfast, said she’s used chickens to teach her daughters Mina and 5-year-old Rayne how to care for animals, from understanding signs of sickness to knowing how to handle delicate newborns. Her home, like Farley’s, is also stocked with chicken decorations. “Once somebody knows that you’re a chicken person ... every gift that you get is the unique chicken (item),” she explained.

 Tips and rules Farley and Parra advised new backyard chicken owners to start with only a few birds. Farley said to make sure their coop has a roof so they don’t get swooped up by owls or attacked by raccoons. Parra stressed that owners must be committed to regularly cleaning the chickens’ coop and bedding. There are also health risks associated with backyard poultry. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that 961 people in 48 states and the District of Columbia have been infected this year during 10 separate multi-state outbreaks of salmonella involving people who had contact with live poultry in backyard flocks. “Contact with live poultry or their environment can make people sick with salmonella infections,” the agency said in a website posting Monday. “Live poultry can be carrying salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean, with no sign of illness.”

 The CDC recommends that people always wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry, and said children younger than 5 should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other live poultry without adult supervision. The county, City of Nogales and Town of Patagonia each have animal regulations that apply to backyard chickens. Michael Massee, deputy attorney for the City of Nogales, said chickens must be fenced in and provided adequate shelter. In addition, they can’t be a nuisance and zoning officials can investigate noise, odor or other complaints. However, there are no regulations regarding the number of chickens a family can own, how much space the animals need or where they are kept.

 The regulations are similarly lax in Patagonia, whose Code of Ordinance prohibits loud nuisance animals and says animal shelters must be regularly cleaned to avoid offensive odors. The rules are the most strict in the unincorporated areas governed by the county, where farm animals are completely banned in certain zones and regulated where they are allowed. For example, in general rural zones, properties that are at least 180,000 square feet can have 10 chickens per acre and their coops must be at least 75 feet from the property’s boundary.