Beaver County Times Coverage: June 15, 2015 (gallery)


UPDATE: October 1, 2015


Our chickens have been at Rochester Manor + Villa for a few weeks now and everyone is loving having them here!  
Throughout our campus one can hear the residents, family and staff interacting with one another on which one is their favorite and what we should name them. Families sit outside with their loved ones in front of the chicken coop under a shaded tree sharing their stories about chickens they have had growing up. These conversations spark other memories and seem to open a gateway to even more memorable stories from their lives. 
Maryann Putt a resident here at RM&V who was at the farm to help pick out the chickens, stated “I use to have a farm, looking all around and smiling as the sun shined down on her, she said “it’s been a long time since I’ve been on a farm, it’s been a long time”. A study at University of Northumbria in the U.K. revealed “that the elderly who were engaged in the care of chickens showed improved well being, and decreased loneliness and depression”. 
Here at Rochester Manor + Villa we have a gentleman that is known as our “bird man” and since I was the “chicken girl” I knew we needed to meet. We took a walk outside feeding the chickens and birds together, which led to many conversations from his life as a young adult, his career and his family. There were brief periods of quietness where we would just sit and watch the chickens and birds walk around scratching the ground below them. 
Terry Golson, a poultry expert stated, “The wonderful thing about chickens is there’s always something going on, there’s always constant movement, it’s calming”. 
Moments later the conversation would start up again. As we laughed together and shared more stories with one another, the contemplative reflection on ‘why chickens’ could make a difference was felt and realized. So now when I hear the question ‘why chickens?’, I just stop and smile. I think of all the conversations that have been started, all the memories being shared with one another and new friendships that are forming because of our new feathered friends.


– Michelle Diesing, RNAC



Beaver County Times Coverage: June 15, 2015


Council allows Rochester Manor and Villa to try raising therapy chickens


By Jenny Wagner Posted: Monday, June 15, 2015 9:15 pm

(Reposted with permission of the Beaver County Times.)


ROCHESTER — At Rochester Manor and Villa, the chickens will come before the eggs.


Residents at the Virginia Avenue nursing and personal care home will be allowed to have three to six hens for therapeutic purposes, after Rochester council on Monday approved an exception to an ordinance on a 60-day experimental basis.


Activity director Stacy Hoydich initially asked council members for permission for residents to hatch and raise the chickens, but she said they now will start with adult birds during the trial period.


Hoydich and nurse Michelle Diesing told council members that sharing in the care and development of the chickens would create a sense of usefulness for residents. While dogs and cats are more commonly used for therapeutic purposes, Hoydich said chickens will offer unique benefits to residents.


Especially for people with dementia, Hoydich said, they can be a “wonderful sensory tool,” sparking memories and conversations.


“People who can’t remember what they had for lunch, can remember the type of chickens that they had growing up,” she said, noting that many of the Manor and Villa residents were farmers.


Chapter 94 of the Rochester Code pertains to wild and farm animals and states that, “No person shall keep or permit to be kept on his premises any farm animal, whether gratuitously or for a fee,” and, “No person shall keep or permit to be kept any wild or farm animal as a pet.”


A farm animal is defined by the borough as, “Any live horse, sheep, pig, chicken, goat, cow, duck, fowl or any other similar animal usually associated with a farm environment.”


Councilman Keith Jackson, who voted against the exception, along with councilman Daniel Maier, expressed concerns about changing the laws, and whether council would have to allow others to keep animals in the borough.


Hoydich said the chickens will be housed in a locked penned area in an “inconspicuous” grassy area along the Hull Street side of the building. The chickens will be a small variety known as Bantams, and the Manor and Villa does not plan to have a rooster, Diesing said.


“The area would be kept clean and the chickens will be well cared for,” Hoydich said in a June 4 letter to council requesting the exception.


If council does not permit the program to continue at the end of the trial period, Hoydich said the chickens will go to another home.