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Major success in Sacramento! Tips for beating rooster bans

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
On Tuesday we had a MAJOR victory here in Sacramento County for poultry owners. The Board of Supervisors had previously approved an ordinance 4-1 in favor of banning roosters, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, and peacocks in unincorporated areas of the county. This vote was in July of this year and only two members of the public showed up to speak. Yesterday was a different story....

We rallied the troops and over 20 members of the public spoke! We didn't just win, we SHUT IT DOWN! Thanks to Hoody's Human on BYC for all of her work. The ban failed 4-1, only the rep who submitted the proposal did not sway.

The Board technically approved the ban in July, but since 1 member voted no and due to the controversial nature of the issue, they decided to readdress it in October, as it is a small part of a larger zoning code overhaul.

Here are the actions we took that had major impact:

#1 CAREFULLY read any documenting report that the government provides and pick it apart any way you can. For example, our proposal said the fiscal impact would mean a decrease in work for government since it would mean less complaints. I turned this on its head and pointed out how a restrictive ban such as this would create WAY more work for code enforcers as they would have to implement it.

#2 Bring up rooster collars. When I spoke, I specifically asked the board if any of them had heard of them and none of them had. As the meeting continued, the board chair looked up rooster collars on his laptop and brought it back up. "You can even get one with a bow tie" he said. At the end he suggested "give your neighbor a crow collar for christmas." (If their rooster annoys you)

#3 Contact 4H and FFA. I emailed and called every number I could find for every local group. Sacramento has at least 10 4H clubs and I emailed each one and called those that had numbers. Ag teachers in high schools are the leaders of FFA and a great way to reach out to the organization; email and call. Today, the first speaker was a high school student FFA member. She wore her jacket and brought in her trophy from state fair. It was a great speech and she totally set the tone for the whole meeting. Emphasize the impact it would have on the children and poultry shows.

#4 Hang flyers in feed stores and veterinarian offices. My local feed stores literally let me tape them next to the registers. If you can, print flyers on bright paper and add pictures to catch peoples attention. We had a vet who sees poultry show up today to speak which was great.

#5 Post on Craigslist. I posted in Farm & Garden in For Sale and Local News in Community. I had people email me back so I know it worked! Add tons of keywords related to anything you think chicken owners would look up. Example keywords: feed, apyron, pullet, tractor, coop, chicks, ducks, hen, mower, ford, pickup, hay, etc.

#6 Contact people who have poultry for sale on Craigslist. We felt it was too much to call, but a quick text or email can be effective. We just copied and pasted a blurb about the ban and went through texting people, just dont be obnoxious. We got responses so it worked too!

#7 Have a text file saved on your phone or computer so you can copy and paste messages for emails and posts. Also, have all of your representatives' contact info ready to copy and paste with each message. Encourage those who cannot attend meetings to call and email.

#8 Use social media, post to BYC first of course! Use Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else you use. We have an Instagram account for our farm so we posted a picture of one of our roosters and in the description urged our followers to e-mail, with all the numbers and addresses provided. We literally had people from around the world contacting our reps. Anyone can voice their opinion, you do not have to be a resident, nor do you need to specify where you are located. Reps may not read each email, but they definitely take notice when they get flooded!

#9 Submit a public comment. In my county, you can submit a public comment online. This is located in the meeting agenda information page. Once the agenda is open, there is a link on the right to submit a public comment. If you cannot find something similar in your area, simply call the main office and ask how to do so. I also sent e-mails to each rep with my statement in the body of the email (not attachment). The day of meeting, in my county, you can submit a comment in person. Even though I had already submitted online and emailed, I printed copies of my statement for each member and the clerk. Be redundant! That way, they had a hard copy in their hands while we were addressing the issue and before they voted. I saw them flipping through my statement during the meeting, hardly anyone else submitted info like this. We are only allowed 3 minutes to speak and I could not say all of the points that quickly. So I narrowed my speaking points down to not only the most hard hitting, but specifically points I assumed others were not likely to touch upon.

#10 Discuss the effect on animal control. If your county wants to ban roosters, does your shelter accept roosters? Where will they go? Here in Sacramento there has been a massive amount of rooster dumping in the parks after the rooster ban was passed in city limits. Emphasize this will mean an increased amount of work for animal control, will overwhelm the shelters, and lead to mass euthanasia of birds that do not have homes.

#11. Make your points clear and free of emotional attacks. Reach them where they are, not where you are. As much as we love our birds and care about breeding, etc., they care more about money and their job. What negative effects will this have on government? How might this affect the way your area is represented? Sacramento is called the Farm to Fork Capitol of America and we pointed out how hypocritical it is for us to have the strictest laws in the state.

Here is my statement I submitted, notice the title does not attack. I could have put "10 Reasons Why the Ban is Bad" Or "10 Reasons Why the Ban is Not Good." But i chose to word it "10 Reasons Why the Ban is Not the Best Solution." This is not attacking and leaves it open for more possibilities.

10 Reasons Why The Ban On Crowing Fowl is Not The Best Solution
1. Amendments To The Zoning Code Related To Crowing Fowl states:
“A total ban on crowing fowl in residential zones, as proposed, will result in fewer noise complaints. Approval of the alternative will result in increased code enforcement officer’s time to inspect noise complaints in rural areas.”
This is incorrect, because a total ban would mean an increase in complaints due to the number of birds that are prohibited. Residents will not only be complaining about crowing, but the mere sight of a duck or goose will be deemed illegal and cause for inspection by code enforcement. People are not likely to comply with the ban because of the lack of locations to surrender their birds and likeliness of euthanasia, and therefore many people will continue to keep these birds which will lead to numerous complaints. Many residents of the county will be unaware of this ban and will unknowingly own prohibited birds, since banning geese and ducks are not common practice of jurisdictions in California. Most people wont get rid of their livestock, until someone notifies them otherwise in person, because their livestock means so much to them. If people do not comply, the ban will have to be enforced which will take up unimaginable time of code enforcement officers. There are varieties of poultry listed that do not crow (including roosters), and many that are hard to distinguish males from females. Code enforcers do not have the scientific knowledge to sex poultry and determine the final fate of the bird.
2. The noise ordinance can be used to keep noise under control. People could be notified of a complaint and given the option to use a crowing collar (which humanely restricts the rooster from crowing loudly), keep the birds inside sound proof coop until a designated time, or get rid of the birds altogether. If the owner fails to comply, they can then be cited by code enforcement. Dog barking and free roaming is not allowed for dogs, and the same laws should apply for poultry. It should be handled on a case by case basis. If we banned dogs, they would be running lose all over Sacramento and the shelters would be overwhelmed, since most people couldn’t own them legally.
3. People who raise poultry for meat should not have their food source taken from them. It is very important to them how their birds are raised and treated, and they often do not support the current commercial poultry system, so they do not wish to buy their meat from the stores. Also, low income people cannot afford to eat the healthy options from alternative health food stores, so they have turned to raising their own meat and eggs themselves. This would take away that option, where they would be forced to eat low quality meat and eggs at more of a financial cost. There are varieties of chickens made for meat that are bred to be butchered at 12 weeks, before the males begin to crow. Also, standard breed poultry roosters do not start to crow until around 5 months, which is when most harvest the meat.
4. Due to the ban in city limits, there has been a massive dumping of roosters in the local parks. This has become a nuisance for the people living around the parks and its daily visitors. If the ban were to go into effect for unincorporated areas of the county, the dumping would be ten-fold. The population of ducks, roosters, geese, guinea fowl, and peacocks in unincorporated areas is astronomically bigger than the amount of roosters that have been dumped because of the city ban. Poultry flocks have a pecking order and are territorial, so when they are dumped, they will be attacked by all the others and this results in gruesome inhumane deaths. They also have no food when they are dumped in the parks, so they live for a while, but eventually end up starving to death. It is also known that people who fight roosters are going to these areas and taking the birds in the middle of the night. This would result in increased cockfighting. All of this would create a lot of ruckus for the parks that will be the dumping grounds for these birds.
5. Of the 32 jurisdictions surveyed, Sacramento County would be the only jurisdiction to explicitly ban roosters, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, and peacocks, making it the strictest ordinance of them all. There is no supporting evidence documented in the proposal of numerous complaints about ducks, geese, guinea fowl, or peacocks, only roosters. The cities which allow all of these fowl (including roosters) are densely populated areas, including: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, Petaluma, Santa Monica, Rocklin, and Bakersfield. If these large cities are able to handle noise issues on a case by case basis, Sacramento can as well. How can the Farm to Fork Capitol of America have the strictest laws in the state regarding self-sustaining food production?
6. Those who do not want to live around the natural sounds of livestock animals have the choice to move to city limits where the raising of livestock is banned, other than hens. People in the unincorporated areas can not just pick up and move to AG designated parcels. Many people moved out of city limits so they could have small, urban, self sustaining farms that do not require large amounts of space, like the AG zoned areas of this county. Urban farming is a growing trend in this country, emphasizing the production of a large amount of food without needing lots of space.
7. Because people can only own hens in many areas due to ordinances, hatcheries are now grinding up the excess baby roosters by the thousands. All of the roosters bred for the Sacramento area will be ground up since the majority of people won’t be able to own them legally.
8. 4-H and FFA Programs are an important part of not only Sacramento history but the history of the whole country. It is unfair to deny the children in these great programs the ability to own these proposed prohibited birds. Poultry raising is a fundamental part of the history of the United States, and programs such as these are continuing these traditions by teaching the children. The local government should be encouraging these children with their poultry, not restricting them, they are literally the Future Farmers of America. The ban would make it impossible for 4H, FFA, and private citizens to compete in poultry shows since they won’t be able to breed their best entries.
9. A heritage livestock breed is one that was traditionally raised by farmers before the advent of massive-scale industrial agriculture. Within the past few decades, hundreds of breed varieties have gone extinct. There is a movement, especially within farming circles that are aspiring to sustainable farming, to preserve the remaining heritage breeds so that they don’t suffer the same fate. If this ban goes in to effect, this will only help to further the extinction of these animals breeds, some which have been around since the 1800’s.
10. The risk of the problems this could create is not worth the benefit of a ban. There are much better solutions that should be considered.
Edited by FreedomFeather - 10/29/15 at 3:59pm
post #2 of 4

Great job! you kept your calm and delivered a well informed argument! Very classy response. You are fortunate that only 20 people needed to come "in the flesh" and that your council listened. Sounds like a nice county to live in :-) Well done!

post #3 of 4

~~~I want to thank everyone for their efforts in fighting Sacramento County's Crowing Fowl Ban. I especially want to thank all of you who came to and/or spoke at the October 27, 2015 Sacramento County Supervisors' Meeting. You rock! A huge thanks also BYC for giving us a place to get the word out.

Special thanks to KCRA and David Bienick who aired this item on May 9, 2015. Without them none of us would have ever known about this ban in the first place. ~~~


Here are some additional tips to add to FreedomFeather's post:



1. Attend every Supervisor or City Council meeting you can. Individual Supervisors often host their own version of a Town Hall Meeting in one or more locations within their district. Attend those if you can. These meetings often occur when it is highly inconvenient for people who have jobs and children to attend. My Supervisor's meetings are once a month at 7:30 AM.


Most of the time nobody pays attention to what the City Council or County Supervisors are doing. That is how they get away with passing ordinances, zoning and permit changes, and approvals of building developments without your knowledge and therefore with your absentee consent. If you miss a Board or Council meeting of interest, find a link on their website(s) that posts minutes and/or video of the meeting. If you are able to attend a regularly scheduled meeting, be sure to call in advance to confirm it has not been canceled or moved to a different date/time. You cannot depend on their calendar postings even though they are supposed to have posted meeting dates/times and agendas 72 hours in advance. Expect last minute changes in dates, times and agendas. If an individual Supervisor or Council Member has a stake in making sure a ban passes, they might make a sneaky last minute scheduling change so that a large crowd cannot amass. If an angry hoard still seems likely to amass in spite a date/time change, a Supervisor/Council Member might purposely schedule your issue along with the agenda of another unpopular item that takes precedence, guarantees a high number of speakers, and takes up time that can greatly eat into your issue's allotment.


During the July 22, 2015 Supervisors' Board Meeting, there were only two of us who came to oppose the Crowing Fowl Ban. The reason for this was that nobody knew about the ban. Due to my and other's postings on BYC, all 5 of our Supervisors had received many calls, emails and Facebook postings opposing the ban. Yet, the lack of meeting attendees lead them to believe that their constituents were not really interested in, or showing much objection to their proposed zoning changes. Apparently, our County's residential rooster ban had been in the works for awhile. But, I only found out about it in late May.


2. If you hear a politician repeating a story that rationalizes their proposed ordinance over and over again, it is most likely contrived propaganda. Remember President Reagan's story about the Welfare Momma that turned out to be a complete fabrication (aka lie)? It is easy to fall prey to a politician's stories. I admit, I believed Reagan too. The Supervisor who initiated our crowing fowl ban kept repeating that she had been awakened by a peacock at 3 AM. And, this was reason enough to impose a countywide ban on all male chickens, ducks, geese, guinea fowl and of course peacocks. I asked her if perhaps this p-fowl could possibly have been "feral" (to use her terminology) and therefore negated her entire rationale for mandating that all owned crowing fowl must be relinquished.  So, she stopped telling that story and replaced it with one (I am paraphrasing here) about a man who had not slept for 5 nights and had terrible blood-shot eyes because his neighbor's rooster kept crowing all night long. She repeated this over and over at every one of her meetings. She kept trying to convince folks who had never heard a rooster's crow in the morning that it was the absolute worst way to be awakened. This may or may not have been a genuine story. We don't know. We also don't know if the complainant was exaggerating, had insomnia, had financial/family/job problems or some other issue that caused him to loose sleep and hyper focus on the rooster. We don't know if this cock was owned or stray. What we do know is that a single incidence of excessive crowing does not justify a countywide ban.


Politicians know how to get you to help them repeat their propaganda by garnering your sympathy. Don't fall for it! They also expand or give undue weight to the numbers of complaint calls they actually receive. Be wary of some pro-ban speakers at a meeting. They might be seeded by a politician. You may deem this behavior reprehensible and unethical, but it isn't illegal for a politician to salt the mine, so to speak. These folks often make statements that give you a feeling that something is kind off or...highly suspect. They may even lead you to believe they are experts when in fact they are not. A real "tell" is when a city or county official walks off to make a phone call during the meeting and soon after, Ta-dah, their agenda-friendly speaker appears.  Do whatever you can to vet these folks' claims even if you have to go out and talk to their neighbors. But, be kind to legitimate sufferers. Offer assistance as a rooster mediator if parties are receptive. We all know that some fowl can be really loud.


2. You cannot depend on local media sources to inform you about what your Supervisors and/or City Council members are doing.  Sometimes politicians hold sway or outright media control of information and can influence how/when/if it is disseminated. You must try and get the word out via some of the alternate sources that FreedomFeather has listed.


3. Get after a Crowing Fowl ban as early as possible (my lawyer's advice).  It is difficult, if not impossible to undo a law once it passes. You may have to enlist the services of a Land Use Lawyer... $ Cha-Ching $


I kept telling as many people about this issue as I could. In the past, I had only gone onto BYC when I wanted information about chicken issues such as diseases, egg oddities, and breed info. I had never been to the "Local Chicken Laws and Ordinances" section of the Forum before May 2015. I saw that lots of people had posted stuff about our local bans, but they weren't very current. BYC places the newest posts last- out of sight to the novice user. I think many folks do not regularly visit this law section of the forum. I posted my warnings to every Sacto County thread and sent out notices to other local chicken groups, but few folks even responded. I worried that people were getting tired of my posts. Maybe they had lost interest or didn't want to get involved. Maybe, they had resigned themselves to the fact that the law was already a done deal. I tried to get all local newspapers to print articles about the ban and sent letters to editors. I requested an interview on Capital Public Radio. For whatever reason, none deemed this issue important enough to publish or air. So, only a small percentage of people really got the warning. If Don Nottoli, the single no-voting Supervisor on 7/22, had not requested that the Crowing Fowl section of the County zoning amendments be revisited on or before Oct 30th we all would have been hard pressed to get this ban overturned. But, we did. YAY!!! Thanks, Supervisor Nattoli. No TV stations mentioned the vote.


Given these extra 3 months, I started putting out flyers in every feed store in the county. I also posted some flyers to bulletin boards in veterinary offices, local coffee shops, nurseries, tractor supply stores, libraries and pet stores. I called all the managers of feed stores, and chicken coop suppliers and told them how this ban would effect their bottom line (no rooster, no free-ranging, no desire to keep chickens). I sent emails and called animal shelters/sanctuaries (including the County's own Animal Shelter who was completely unaware of the ban), local poultry breeders, Grange members, Master Gardeners, Master Food Preservers, etc. So glad Freedom contacted 4H & FFA!


Even if you are allowed to leave flyers and post them inside businesses, this doesn't mean that they will keep them out in plain sight after you leave... or replenish your flyers (even though they promise they will) or allow your flyers to stay posted on their bulletin boards. You must go out and make sure you re-post and re-supply flyers. I simply ran out of money and time. This is when you realize how hard it is to go it alone and desperately need some community support.


4. Fact check all documents and numbers of crowing complaint calls purportedly received.  The 93 crowing complaints listed on the ban's support documentation were collected by Animal Control only because they were zoning code violations- folks who lived on properties that were too small to own poultry of any kind in the first place. Prior to this ban, Animal Control only accepted and recorded dog barking nuisance calls. Crowing complaints regarding properties > than or = to the approved amount of square footage were disregarded.


The Supervisor who initiated the ban kept telling the press and her meeting attendees that they had "received floods of crowing complaint calls." This was unsubstantiated by empirical data. She even repeated this claim to the press after the ban was voted down! 


During the meeting, it was revealed by two of the Supervisors that many of these 93 calls were reported by residents within the "incorporated" areas of Sacramento County who have their own municipal poultry laws and rooster restrictions. The Supervisors also noted that most of the complaints were about lots smaller than 10,000 square feet and made by the same complainant.  The Crowing Fowl Ban we were fighting only applied to residential properties within the "unincorporated" areas of our county where there was already a prohibition on properties under 10,000 square feet.


Given the increases of population in unincorporated Sacramento County since the 2010 census, the 93 calls came to be around .0007% of the entire population. That's about 1 crowing fowl complaint a week, which may or may not have been from a repeat complainant. This hardly qualifies as being a "flood" considering that Animal Control probably gets at least 93+ dog barking complaints per week if not in a single day! It is also important to note that the Supervisors staff purposely did not include the number of Dog Barking Nuisance Complaints during the same period for comparison in their documentation. NOTE: A FOIA request may become necessary if this ban comes up again in the future.


5. Get a veterinarian who works with fowl, a wildlife biologist, 4H, FF or Grange member, and/or other poultry expert/specialist/breeder to speak at any critical Crowing Fowl or Poultry Ban Meeting.  My veterinarian, Marianne Brick, came to speak, bless her heart. It made a huge impact on the Supervisors. The first speaker to take the podium was the most adorable little 4H girl who brought her State Fair Trophy for Poultry Raising along. She was amazing and so adept at speaking that I was completely enrapt and in awe. She got a standing 'O'. We also had Chris Tamayo, an Elk Grove Breeder, who talked about the importance of roosters. (He posts to BYC and belongs to several chicken interest groups.)


6. Form an action committee. If you hear about a poultry ban in your area on BYC, please send a private message to the "town crower" and acknowledge their post. Ask how you can help them. Set out a plan of action and assign group members jobs to: write articles, contact the media, create, disburse and maintain flyers, read gov docs related to your ordinances, do research, consult with Land Use Lawyers, make calls, contact other jurisdictions if you can't find their most recent poultry law info on the net, contact other interest groups, send out FOIAs regarding complaint calls/Animal Control Stats, and call or meet with Supervisors or Council members and/or their staff.


I had been working pretty much alone on this issue for months.  I was completely disheartened and exhausted. Then, as if sent by an angel, a handful of people sent me private messages, such as BroodyBunch, ChickenCoop5, and FreedomFeather and came to my rescue. Another lady B.B. (who found a flyer of mine at Western Feed in Midtown) was referred to me by a friend. They were all able to rally friends to write letters and call Supervisors. They contacted media/interest groups and put up new flyers and/or changed the meeting date on my flyers in the 11th hour. Their last minute push gave me hope and made a huge difference in overturning this terrible example of unreasonable governmental overreach. Oh, and I also got a call from Don Nottoli that absolutely made my day ;-)



~~~I know this sounds like an awful lot of hard work, but it's what you have to do if you want to keep your fowl legally.  Again, thanks to everyone who joined the fight, including the Supervisors who voted down this ban. Please reply to Freedom's thread to add other tips you may have for those who have to fight for their fowl in the future. Bless you all. Be well and be kind to your neighbors. -H.H.~~~

Edited by Hoody's Human - 11/3/15 at 12:00pm
post #4 of 4

:ya:clap Well done, and Thank You!  I wish I could've attended! 

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.  Proverbs 27:23 KJV 







Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.  Proverbs 27:23 KJV 






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