Angelo Santabarbara appears on the Schenectady Today Show.
Two chickens were the stars of the public access television program The Schenectady Today Show on Tuesday, July 19.
County Legislator Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, and his daughter Marianna, 7, brought two of their pet chickens to Schenectady Today, which is hosted by Ann Parillo. On the show Santabarbara talked about the proper care of chickens and explained how he came to acquire his flock. Living in an agriculture-zoned area in Rotterdam allows Santabarbara to have the chickens without conflicted town code. For three years he has raised chickens and he now has a total of 12 chickens, which include eight Road Island Reds and four Plymouth Rocks.
“I did a lot of research on the chickens and I thought it was a pretty neat pet and my kids were kind of interested in it,” said Santabarbara. “I was thinking, ‘All right, I’ve got to go to a farm,’ because it is not really typically that you go around buying chickens from people.”
After searching online he found a website selling day old chickens through mail order, www.mypetchicken.com, and he decided to purchase a few and try out the different pet. He chose the two breeds because they were said to be a more hearty bird. The chickens come in a little box with holes and he said the shells were still in the box. The road island reds are also a good egg layer.
One odd thing he found out was when the chickens are little you have to be careful with the water served to them.
“(Little chicks) tend to just stand there and fall asleep,” said Santabarbara. “From what I understand and what other people have explained to me, they will just fall into the water and some of them drown.”
He decided not to free range his chickens and built a triangle shaped coop to hold the chickens. To not disturb any neighbors, or his own family, he decided against getting a rooster, which possibly makes noise all throughout the day. He also said roosters tend to be more aggressive and he didn’t want it around his children.
“They become very domesticated and the kids are able to handle them,” he said. “They react like any other pet, in the morning they kind of squawk and they are happy to see you.”
Typically the chickens lay about one egg a day usually in the morning or afternoon. Getting to see the chickens from their small size to growing up and laying eggs has been a fun process, he said.
“Watching them grow and see the process is a really neat thing,” he said.
When he started feeding them he used a mashed form of food and then switched to a pellet form as they got older, because the chickens tended to dig the mashed food into the ground after it falls out of the feeder. He buys a 10-pound bag of feed for around $10 and he said it lasts several weeks.
Before he decided to purchase the chickens he made sure he lived in the proper district and zoning laws wouldn’t ban him from owning chickens.
“It is important to check with your local officials … to make sure that this is allowed,” he said. “It is good to talk to the neighbors anyway even if it is an allowed use … let them know there is not going to be any problems.”
He said taking care of the chickens is no different than talking care of a dog.
“I have never had any problems with my neighbors … I happen to have a large lot,” he said. “Before you set this up and spend a lot of money you want to make sure it is allowed.”
As far as having chickens outside of the currently zoned property, as the case in Niskayuna for a family, he said didn’t seem to approve of it on a general basis.
“There are reasons the zoning is in place and I think people should abide by the zoning,” he said. “It is a nice pet to have, but if it is not allowed by zoning there is usually a reason … if it can be done by special permit maybe that is the route to go.”