Here's the speech I prepared for the city council meeting. I will blog more about the meeting in a little while. I edited where needed to keep my anonymity.
I am here to ask for changes to the City of *****’s Allowable Animal Code. According to the code enforcement officers I have spoken with, by not mentioning any animal by name except cats and dogs, it PROHIBITS all animals, even guppies, parakeets, hamsters, hens and any other common pet. I am asking for a phrase to be added to the code allowing hens in the backyards of the urban areas in the City.
In the last few years, as the Green Living lifestyle has gained popularity, cities and towns all over America have been relaxing their chicken laws. Heritage breed chickens are calm, docile and affectionate pets. Kept as pets, and cleaned regularly, backyard chickens don't smell. They make much less noise than many dogs. They do not damage fences or escape and bite neighbors.
I believe that any health risk posed by allowing backyard chickens is minimal and can be controlled by good husbandry. This means that their housing, feed, water and manure are maintained regularly. The improper keeping of dogs and cats can be a much greater risk to public health than the keeping of chickens. Dogs and cats are both prime vectors for rabies, and cat poop often contains a disease that can be very dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies, yet they are allowable animals.
There are two areas of caution in keeping hens to avoid nuisance complaints from neighbors. The most salient of these concerns is the possession of roosters which should be prohibited due to inevitable noise complaints. Also, roosters are often bred and raised for fighting. This is cruel and should be explicitly disallowed in the city code. Those who would participate in cock fighting aren’t likely to obey rules, regardless. Codes that forbid hens for pets to prevent cock fighting only hurt those who wish to obey the law while enjoying their pets.
The second area of concern is manure management. Flies and odor are already common enough. Hens do not contribute to this problem. The manure that a hen deposits on the ground doesn’t smell, it quickly dries, is broken up and disappears into the soil, nourishing it and improving the soils condition. Any manure collected in the coop is easily composted and is valuable for use in home gardens.
As a family and school project, we raised ten chicks. They were but day old when we got them. The children learned so much during that time! Most know each hen by name.
The children helped in all aspects of caring for them, including the carpentry and construction of the coop, cleaning, feeding, watering and taming the hens. They finally reached the laying age of 5-6 months and began producing eggs. In the five weeks that they laid for us, we collected 74 eggs. The children kept track of who was laying and how often. They could usually tell who laid which egg just by the color or time it was laid.
In the time we enjoyed our hens, we noticed a decrease in the number of flies in our home. This is explained by the hens themselves. We observed them eating flies, ants and other insects on many occasions. They also feasted on slugs and snails and we actually looked forward to finding inchworms and tomato hornworms in our garden; the hens loved them dearly. All our produce scraps went to the hens rather than into the trash. Our already small amount of weekly garbage was reduced even more. They are very much missed in our backyard.
Thank you for taking the time to consider these changes to our city’s animal regulations. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Mommaofmany (phone number)