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Wisconsin: Appleton - chickens not allowed

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'm considering purchasing a house in the city of Appleton, but chickens are currently banned from the city by the Health Dept - for sanitation reasons.

What are the appropriate steps to go about in order to (attempt) to get the law changed??  Any advice and suggestions are much appreciated.

post #2 of 10

I live out toward seymour,Don't know if there is much you can do maybe just have hens. Maybe look at your neighbors and give them one of these.ep

post #3 of 10

At least you have read the ordinance that you need to change/fight. Do some homework, and read other bylaws and ordinances for cities and towns that allow hens, and come up with a proposal that could replace the current ordinance. There are so many other cities and towns all over N America, and in WI, doing exactly that right now, that this is the time to jump on that bandwagon. It will take some time and energy on your part, and some interaction with the powers that be at the city, and maybe a few attempts, but it can be done. Find the other folks like you in Appleton who want what you want, they have to be out there. All of you can join forces and change this ordinance.

Heather, with a husband, 2 herding dogs, 3 cats, 1 draft horse, and two beautiful pet hens.


Heather, with a husband, 2 herding dogs, 3 cats, 1 draft horse, and two beautiful pet hens.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you.  My life changed a lot and my plans changed a lot, but I'm finally nearing the final steps of purchasing a house in Appleton, so now I need to start getting info together and finding others in Appleton Wisconsin who want chickens.  I'm sure I can get things moving, I just need to organize!!!  smile

I recently watched a movie about another "nobody" like myself who had goals and dreams and hated that the local laws stopped him from being able to just live his life.  So he began to step up and others around him who felt the same way pulled together and they made great strides and changes.  I know I can too!!

If anyone else out there is from the Appleton area, or other cities in Wisconsin who are fighting for the right to own hens, or who have attempted (whether you won or lost), please respond to this post - I'd love any info you can share on what worked or didn't work!

Thank you,

post #5 of 10

Hi Jessa,

My family and I just moved from Appleton to Greenleaf last May.  I would be willing to help you out with getting the ordinance changed, writing letters or whatever.

(Do you happen to be in the Appleton milk run for Grassway? There was a Jessa in that group, and it's not a common name, just wondering...)

Dont you find it odd that people will put more work into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person who grows their food?
-Joel Salatin


Dont you find it odd that people will put more work into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person who grows their food?
-Joel Salatin

post #6 of 10

they have a movie, i got a copy of it.  this is about the legalization of backyard hens in madison wis.  they may have another website but i'm not sure.

post #7 of 10

Well, you can't accuse them of being too vague with their rules...

Sec. 3-52. Restricted species.
No person shall keep, sell or offer for sale within the
City any horses, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, bees, chickens,
geese, ducks or other fowl or any other domestic animal
other than a dog, cat, rabbit, small caged birds, exclusive of
pigeons, small caged animals or reptiles or aquatic and
amphibian animals, kept solely as pets.
(Ord 39-92, §1, 4-15-92; Ord 141-09, §1, 8-25-09

post #8 of 10

Small caged birds...

Silkies are small! Smaller than a macaw if nothing else! LOL

I am currently experiencing nonlinear waterfowl issues!
I am currently experiencing nonlinear waterfowl issues!
post #9 of 10

sebrights are really small...
you could consider geting quails instead of chickens....

1 Australorp(Mother to 3) - 3 Araucanas(One mother to 3)
"Lets chill wit' al six of our peeps"

Come sign up to be a member on my new website and sign my guest book, play games, do every thing! :
1 Australorp(Mother to 3) - 3 Araucanas(One mother to 3)
"Lets chill wit' al six of our peeps"

Come sign up to be a member on my new website and sign my guest book, play games, do every thing! :
post #10 of 10

Hello I am also against the laws on chickens in outagamie county I am so sorry if you think I am blocking up your fourm  but I want to help legalize chickens in appleton I've done some research and want to help sorry I just copyed and pasted a document i made from the research ive done I want to see the zoning administration board but in numbers it's easier to make a difference feel free to PM me anytime.Hope this helps and we get that law changed. :) 

YES I HAVE READ ALL OF THIS I HELPED ALOT! Even Madison our state capital is allowed to have chickens and it has a larger population. 




Legalization tips for chickens



410 S Walnut St
Appleton, WI 54911 WE HAVE TEMPORARILY MOVed!!
Admin Bldg - 3rd level downtown Appleton
Area Code 920-832-5255 See us at 122 E College Ave

fax 920-832-4770 Entrance in the back

*off Washington Street by W Morrison*

Board of Adjustment Members

The Outagamie County Zoning Board of Adjustment is made up of five members, who are appointed by the County Executive. There are three primary members and two alternates. It is the responsibility of the Board of Adjustment to hear appeals in matters relating to the County Zoning Ordinance and the County Shoreland-Floodplain-Wetland Zoning Ordinance.

Because the Board acts somewhat like a court, it is called a quasi-judicial body. The Board follows accepted procedures and fairly evaluates the relevant facts in each case that comes before it. A party that is aggrieved by a decision of the Board may appeal that decision to the Circuit Court.

The Board of Adjustment meets on the first and third Friday of each month, when there is an item on the agenda. The completed application must be submitted to the Zoning Department at least three weeks prior to the meeting. For additional information, contact Tim Roach, Zoning Administrator, at (920) 832-6033.

Members of the County Board of Adjustment are:
Marvin Fox
Bob Stadel
Roy Hegard
Robert Schuh - Alternate
Jeanne Baum- Alternate

County Board Meetings:
Day: 2nd & 4th Tuesdays (April, Nov. Oct., see note)
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: 2nd floor, County Administration Building
April meeting is 3rd Tuesday.
Election year: 5:30 p.m.
Non-election year: 6:30 p.m.
October meeting is last Monday, 6:30 p.m.
(Budget Public Hearing)
November meeting is 1st Monday, 9:00 a.m., and if needed,
the 1st Tuesday, 6:30 p.m

What new law should state:

"Maximum of 3 hens
No roosters
No onsite slaughter
Coop may not be in a front or side yard
15’ setback"

Exact Wording Used by Other Cities

Denver Colorado - Chicken Ordinance
ARTICLE IV. LIVESTOCK AND FOWL - Sec. 8-82. Unlawful accumulation of manure.
Any barn, pen, corral, coop, yard or other enclosure or appurtenance thereof in which any animal, livestock or fowl shall be kept, or any other place within the city in which manure or other discharges of animals, livestock or fowl shall accumulate, and which is maintained in any insanitary condition, allowing an offensive odor to escape therefrom, or providing an insect or rodent attractant, is hereby deemed a nuisance and prohibited.
DIVISION 2. PERMIT - Sec. 8-91. Livestock or fowl permit required.
It shall be unlawful for any person to keep, maintain, possess or harbor on any property within the city any livestock or fowl such as, but not limited to, horses, mules, donkeys, burros, cattle, sheep, goats, swine, chickens, geese, ducks or turkeys, unless a livestock or fowl permit therefor has been issued by the manager. Such permit is required to be renewed annually for a fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) for each application.
Sec. 8-92. Nuisance-free facilities prerequisite to granting.
A permit to keep livestock or fowl within the city shall not be granted unless the owner or possessor provides facilities which will reasonably assure the manager that the premises will be maintained in a sanitary condition, free from insects and rodents, offensive odors, excessive noise, or any other conditions which constitute a public nuisance.
Sec. 8-93. Denial or revocation.
The manager may deny or revoke a permit to keep, maintain or possess livestock or fowl within the city if the manager determines that any provision of chapters 4 and 37 or article III of chapter 40, is being violated or if the manager finds that maintenance of any livestock or fowl interferes with the reasonable and comfortable use and enjoyment of property; provided, however, that the person being aggrieved by such denial or revocation can, within ten (10) days thereafter, appeal the decision of the manager to the board of environmental health in accordance with its rules and regulations.

Boise Idaho - Chicken Ordinance
Section 6-07-18 POULTRY AT LARGE
It shall be unlawful for any person to allow any chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese or other fowl owned by him to run at large upon the streets, alleys or other public places of the City, or upon the property of any person without the consent of the owner.

4. The keeping of chickens in conjunction with the keeping of large animals is an exception to animal density standards. Up to six (6) chickens may be kept simultaneously and in addition to the large animals allowed per lot based on the density standard.

5. No more than one (1) rooster shall be kept on any single parcel, regardless of the size of the parcel.

Portland, Oregon – Chicken Ordinance
13.05.015 Permit Required for Specified Animal Facility
 A.   No person shall operate or maintain any specified animal facility unless a permit has first been obtained from the Director.
B.   Applications for specified animal facility permits shall be made upon forms furnished by the Director, and shall be accompanied by payment of the required fee.  Specified animal facility permits shall be valid from the date of issuance until such time a the Director determines by inspection that the facility is not being maintained in compliance with the issuance criteria.  Applications for a specified animal facility permit shall be accompanied by adequate evidence, as determined by the Director, that the applicant has notified all of the property owners and residents within 150 feet of the property lines of the property on which the specified animal facility will be located.
C.   The Director shall issue a specified animal facility permit to the applicant, only after the Director has reviewed a completed and signed application which grants the Director permission to enter and inspect the facility at any reasonable time, and assuring the Director that the issuance criteria have been met.  If the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an inspection is necessary, the Director shall inspect the facility in order to determine whether the issuance criteria have been met.  The criteria for issuing a specified animal facility permit are as follows:

1.   The facility is in good repair, capable of being maintained in a clean and in a sanitary condition, free of vermin, obnoxious smells and substances;
2.   The facility will not create a nuisance or disturb neighboring residents due to noise, odor, damage or threats to public health;
3.   The facility will reasonably prevent the specified animal from roaming at large.  When necessary for the protection of the public health and safety, the Director may require the specified animal be kept or confined in a secure enclosure so that the animal will not constitute a danger to human life or property;
4.   Adequate safeguards are made to prevent unauthorized access to the specified animal by general members of the public;
5.  The health or well being of the animal will not be in any way endangered by the manner of keeping or confinement;
6.  The facility will be adequately lighted and ventilated;
7.   The facility is located on the applicant's property so as to be at least 15 feet from any building used or capable of being used for human habitation, not including the applicant's own dwelling.  Facilities for keeping bees, such as beehives or apiaries, shall be at least 15 feet from any public walkway, street or road, or any public building, park or recreation area, or any residential dwelling.  Any public walkway, street, or road or any public building, park or recreation area, or any residential dwelling, other than that occupied by the applicant, that is less than 150 feet from the applicant beehives or apiaries shall be protected by a six foot hedgerow, partition, fence or similar enclosure around the beehive or apiary, installed on the applicant's property.
8.  If applicable, the structure must comply with the City's building code and must be consistent with the requirements of any applicable zoning code, condition of approval of a land use decision or other land use regulation; and
9.   The applicant shall demonstrate, to the Director's satisfaction, sufficient ability to respond to any claims for damages for personal injury or property damage which may be caused by any specified animal kept at the facility.

a.   The Director may require the applicant to provide proof of sufficient liability Insurance to respond to damages for any personal or property damages caused by any specified animal kept at the facility.  The insurance shall provide that the insurance shall not be canceled or materially altered so as to be out of compliance with the requirements of this Chapter without thirty (30) days written notice first being given to the Director.  The applicant shall provide a certificate of insurance to the Director within ten (10) days of the issuance of the permit.  The Director shall revoke the permit upon any failure to maintain sufficient liability insurance as required under this subsection.

D.   Each specified animal facility permit issued by the Director shall be conditioned on the applicant maintaining the facility in compliance with each of the issuance criteria.  If the Director determines by inspection that the specified animal facility is not being maintained in compliance with the issuance criteria, the specified animal facility permit shall no longer be valid and shall be revoked.  Before operation of the facility resumes, submission of a new application for a specified animal facility permit accompanied by payment of the permit fees shall be required, and the facility shall not be allowed to operate until such time as the Director has inspected the facility and determined that all issuance criteria have been met.  The Director may impose other conditions on the permit, including but not limited to, a bond or security deposit necessary to protect the public health or safety.
E.   A person keeping a total of three or fewer chickens, ducks, doves, pigeons, pygmy goats or rabbits shall not be required to obtain a specified animal facility permit.  If the Director determines that the keeper is allowing such animals to roam at large, or is not keeping such animals in a clean and sanitary condition, free of vermin, obnoxious smells and substances, then the person shall be required to apply for a facility permit to keep such animals at the site.
F.  These provisions for specified animal control are intended to provide city-wide regulations for keeping specified animals within the City.  However, due to the variety of animals covered by these regulations and the circumstances under which they may be kept, these regulations should be applied with flexibility.  Variances provide flexibility for unusual situations, while maintaining control of specified animals in an urban setting.  The Director should grant variances if the proposal meets the intended purpose of the regulation, while not complying with the strict literal requirements.

New York City - Chicken Ordinance
• Permits would be granted only to residents of single- or two-family homes.
• Birds would have to be provided with a covered enclosure and fenced or in that enclosure at all times.
• Chicken coops would have to be 10 feet from any property line and no closer than 40 feet from any residential structure on an adjacent property. (Neighbors could agree to a waiver.)
• Coops and feed would have to be secured to prevent problems with mice or other pests.
Health Code § 161.19 Keeping of live poultry and rabbits.

(a) No person shall keep a live rooster, duck, goose or turkey in a built-up portion of the City.

(b) A person who holds a permit to keep for sale or sell live rabbits or poultry shall keep them in coops and runways and prevent them from being at large. Coops shall be whitewashed or otherwise treated in a manner approved by the Department at least once a year and at such other times as the Department may direct in order to keep them

Health Code § 161.09 Permits to keep certain animals.

(a) No person shall operate a pet shop, grooming parlor, boarding kennel or training establishment for small animals without a permit issued by the Commissioner.

(b) No person shall construct or operate a shelter for homeless animals without a permit issued by the Commissioner.

(c) No person shall sell or keep for sale live rabbits or live poultry, including chickens, geese, ducks or other fowl, without a permit issued by the Commissioner. Such permit shall not include the right to slaughter rabbits or poultry for sale as food for human consumption for which a permit must be obtained pursuant to Article 93. A permit shall not be issued for the sale or keeping for sale of live roosters, ducks, geese or turkeys in the built-up portions of the city. A permit shall not be issued for the sale or keeping for sale of live rabbits or poultry on the same lot as a multiple dwelling as defined in section 4 of the Multiple Dwelling Law or, unless the consent of the occupants is obtained, on the same lot as a two-family home. A permit shall not be issued unless the coops or runways are more than 25 feet from an inhabited building other than a one-family home occupied by the applicant and unless the applicant submits to the Department the written consent of the owner of the lot on which the poultry or rabbits are to be kept.

(d) Coops, runways and the surrounding area shall be kept clean.

(e) In addition to domesticated dogs and cats, an animal may be kept, possessed, harbored or sold in the City of New York provided that possession of the animal is not otherwise prohibited by law, including federal, state and local laws regulating domestic animals and livestock or protecting wildlife and endangered species. Such animals include, but are not limited to, gerbil, hamster (Mesocricetus auratus ), guinea pig, domesticated rabbit and fowl or small birds such as parakeet, parrot, canary and finch.
Seattle - Municipal Code for Keeping Chickens
Title 23 - Land Use Code
Subtitle IV - Land Use Regulations
Division 2 - Authorized Uses and Development Standards
Chapter 23.44 - Residential, Single-Family
SMC 23.44.048 Keeping of animals.
The keeping of small animals, farm animals, domestic fowl and bees is permitted outright in all zones as an accessory use to any principal use permitted outright or to a permitted conditional use, in each case subject to the standards of this Section.
A. Small Animals. Up to three (3) small animals may be kept accessory to each business establishment or dwelling unit on a lot, except as follows:
1. In no case is more than one (1) miniature potbelly pig allowed per business establishment or dwelling unit (see subsection B of this section).
2. In single-family zones,
a. accessory dwelling units shall not be considered separate dwelling units for the purpose of this section;
b. up to four (4) small animals are permitted on lots of at least twenty thousand (20,000) square feet; and
c. one (1) additional small animal is permitted for each five thousand (5,000) square feet of lot area in excess of twenty thousand (20,000) square feet. Accessory structures, including kennels, for four (4) or more animals must be at least ten (10) feet from any other lot in a residential zone.
B. Miniature Potbelly Pigs. That type of swine commonly known as the Vietnamese, Chinese, or Asian Potbelly Pig (Sus scrofa bittatus) may be kept as a small animal, provided that no swine that is greater than twenty-two (22) inches in height at the shoulder or more than one hundred fifty (150) pounds in weight may be kept in the City.
C. Domestic Fowl. Up to three (3) domestic fowl may be kept on any lot in addition to the small animals permitted in subsection A. For each one thousand (1,000) square feet of lot area in excess of the minimum lot area required for the zone or, if there is no minimum lot area, for each one thousand (1,000) square feet of lot area in excess of five thousand (5,000) square feet, one (1) additional domestic fowl may be kept.
D. Farm Animals. Cows, horses, sheep and other similar farm animals are permitted only on lots of at least twenty thousand (20,000) square feet. The keeping of swine is prohibited, except for miniature potbelly pigs allowed under subsection B of this section.
1. One (1) farm animal for every ten thousand (10,000) square feet of lot area is permitted.
2. Farm animals and structures housing them must be kept at least fifty (50) feet from any lot in a residential zone.
E. Beekeeping. Beekeeping is permitted outright as an accessory use, when registered with the State Department of Agriculture, provided that:
1. No more than four (4) hives, each with only one (1) swarm, shall be kept on lots of less than ten thousand (10,000) square feet.
2. Hives shall not be located within twenty-five (25) feet of any lot line except when situated eight (8) feet or more above the grade immediately adjacent to the grade of the lot on which the hives are located or when situated less than eight (8) feet above the adjacent existing lot grade and behind a solid fence or hedge six (6) feet high parallel to any property line within twenty-five (25) feet of a hive and extending at least twenty (20) feet beyond the hive in both directions.
F. Miniature Goats. The types of goats commonly known as Pygmy, Dwarf and Miniature Goats may be kept as small animals, provided that male miniature goats are neutered and all miniature goats are dehorned. Nursing offspring of miniature goats licensed according to the provisions of this Code may be kept until weaned, no longer than 12 weeks from birth, without violating the limitations of
 (Ord. 122508 , Section 1, 2007; Ord. 122311 , Section 23, 2006)
Fort Collins, Colorado – Chicken Ordinance
Farm animals shall mean animals commonly raised or kept in an agricultural, rather than an urban, environment including, but not limited to, chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, cattle, llamas, emus, ostriches, donkeys and mules. Chicken hens, numbering six (6) or fewer, shall be considered pets and not be considered farm animals.
City Code Section 4-117(a)
Up to six (6) chicken hens may be allowed for the purpose of producing eggs, subject to the following restrictions:
1. No roosters are allowed.
2. No slaughtering is allowed.
3. Chicken hens shall be kept within a secure enclosure.
4. Enclosures shall be located at least fifteen (15) feet from the nearest property line.

Madison, Wisconsin – Chicken Ordinance

Sec. 28.08(9)(b)6. ZONING CODE

j. Keeping of up to four (4) chickens, provided that:
i. The principal use is a single-family dwelling.
ii. No person shall keep any rooster.
iii. No person shall slaughter any chickens.
iv. The chickens shall be provided with a covered enclosure and
must be kept in the covered enclosure or a fenced enclosure at all
times. (Am. by Ord. 13,698, 9-29-04)
v. No enclosure shall be located closer than twenty-five (25) feet to
any residential structure on an adjacent lot.
vi. The owner or operator obtains a license under
Sec. 9.52, M.G.O.

Any person who keeps chickens in the City of Madison shall obtain an annual license prior to January 1of each year, or within 30 days of acquiring the chickens. The license year commences on January 1 and ends on the following December 31.
Application shall be made to the City Treasurer and the fee for the license shall be ten dollars ($10.00). The Treasurer or other authorized individual shall collect the fee and shall assess and collect a late fee of five dollars ($5.00) from every owner of chickens, if the owner fails to obtain a license prior to April 1 of each year, or fails to obtain a license within 30 days of acquiring the chickens. All late fees received or collected shall be paid into the local Treasury.
(Cr. by Ord. 13,605, 5-21-04; ORD-06-00154, 11-23-06)
Rev. 6/

(1) No person shall keep any ducks, geese, pigeons, birds, or other fowl within the City of Madison in any unsanitary condition or within such proximity of dwelling houses or in any manner so as to be a nuisance.
(2) The Director of Public Health shall, upon complaint or on his own initiative, inspect, or order Health Inspectors to inspect, premises upon which fowl are kept and ascertain and determine whether the conditions are unsanitary or if for any reason a nuisance is caused thereby. If the Director of Public Health determines that conditions are unsanitary, or if for any reason a nuisance exists, he shall order the owner or occupant of the premises to abate the nuisance and it shall thereupon be unlawful to keep such fowl on the premises.
The Backyard Chicken Hen
Written By Victor Alfieri, editor
Urban Homesteading Expert
Revised 6/2012

What you need to know.
The benefits, myths, issues and the contradictions of raising backyard chicken hens.

Once upon a time, folks in most small town homeowners kept chickens around the house for fresh eggs. Now, amidst a renewed interest in local food, health, and sustainability, local residents want to bring back the option of raising backyard chicken hens.

Recently chickens have undergone complete image
rehabilitation. Urban towns and cities across the country
are now changing their town ordinances to allow families
to own and raise small backyard flocks.

In the past two years, over 500 cities and towns across
the US have changed their laws to allow residents to start raising chicken hens. Just recently forward thinking Jersey City’s council encouraged their residents to start raising Chickens and honeybees.

"Fresh is not what you buy at the grocery store. Fresh
is when you go into your backyard, and harvest breakfast, lunch, and dinner, everyone should have a backyard
garden and chicken hens." Wayne Resident Michele Acton

Martha Stewart's book "Entertaining" began to change
that perception. As a committed chicken-keeper herself,
she made chickens seem less like livestock and more like useful, companionable creatures. Chicken hens are no longer associated with being farm animals. A 2 pound chicken hen has very little in common with a 400 lb. hog.

The second you start raising chicken hens you lower your families carbon footprint. The practice of urban homesteading and raising chicken hens has a POSITIVE effect on the local environment. Raising backyard chickens is now synonymous with sustainability.

Chickens are pets with a purpose. Hens lay eggs their entire life and live up to over 15 years old. By providing a high protein food source chicken hens pay for themselves.
In our current troubled times, raising hens for eggs will save families money.

The Benefits To Raising Backyard Hens

Most Important Is HEALTH
Home Raised Eggs Offer Superior Nutrition

Mother’s across the country are seeing the health benefits of raising backyard chickens. The fact is Eggs from backyard chickens are healthier. Americans are learning, chickens hens can be raised easily right in their own back yard.

Eggs from backyard chickens are tastier, have firmer whites, and bright orange yolks for the beta-carotene. But the real difference is in the taste. Backyard chicken eggs have a more robust taste that is difficult to describe. Simply said they just taste fantastic.

Eggs currently sold in supermarkets are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture and in backyards across the country.

That’s the conclusion of a 2007 Mother Earth News egg testing project. The testing was compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs.

A remarkable thing happens when a chicken is not confined and is able to live a natural more normal life, pecking for bugs, eating grass, and doing things chickens do.

The EGGS get healthier.

Eggs from backyard chickens contain:

1/3 less cholesterol
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega - 3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene

These results come from egg samples collected from 14 flocks around the country that range freely. The research team sampled six eggs from each of the 14 pastured flocks tested by an accredited laboratory in Portland, Ore. The egg samples were analyzed for nutrient content and then those results were compared with the official egg nutrient data from the USDA for conventional eggs.

These dramatically differing nutrient levels are most likely the result of the different diets of birds that produce these two types of eggs. True free-range birds eat a chicken’s natural diet. All kinds of seeds, green grass, insects, worms, and whole grain formulated chicken feed.

Factory farm hens never even see the outdoors or the light of day. These
environmental conditions are designed to produce eggs quickly and cheaply as possible in the factory farm setting.

Chickens are fed an unnatural and
unvaried diet of the cheapest possible
mixture of corn, soy or cottonseed meals.

This feed is laced with all kinds of additives, supplements, and growth hormones so the hens will produce eggs as quickly as

What is troubling to me is all the
antibiotics commercial factory farm raised hens need to stave off sickness caused
by overcrowded stressful living conditions.

Factory farm chicken hens are given their
first shot of antibiotics before they even hatch.

The egg industry wants to deny that
free-range/backyard chicken eggs are
better than eggs from chickens kept in
crowded, inhumane indoor conditions. The problem lies in the USDA definition of “true free-range." "Allowed access to the outside” is how the USDA defines “free-range.” This definition means that producers can, and do, label their eggs as “free-range” even if all they do is leave a door open to bare concrete.

NY Times - Antibiotics Off The Farm

I have seen this practice with my own eyes in PA. The sun was making the asphalt so hot, chickens just stayed inside.

True free-range eggs are from hens that range outdoors on pasture or backyards so they can do what’s comes natural. Like laying in the sun, drinking fresh rain water, and foraging for green plants, insects, and worms.

USDA considers eggs fresh 45 days after they are packed. USDA says eggs should be consumed within three to five weeks after you buy them. Following this policy, you could be eating eggs 9 to 11 weeks (77 days old) after they were laid. As these eggs age, air seeps into the naturally porous eggshell, degrading not just the nutrition, but also the taste and affecting the consistency of the egg.

Why would anyone want to eat a 45 day old egg?

Egg Nutrition Studies
• In 1974, the British Journal of Nutrition found that pastured eggs had 50 percent more folic acid and 70 percent more vitamin B12 than eggs from factory farm hens.

• In 1988, Artemis Simopoulos, co-author of The Omega Diet, found pastured eggs in Greece contained 13 times more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than U.S. commercial eggs.

• A 1998 study in Animal Feed Science and Technology found that pastured eggs had higher omega-3s and vitamin E than eggs from caged hens.

• A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data. Her study also tested pastured chicken meat, and found it to have 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard.

• In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220 percent more vitamin E and 62 percent more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.

While watching the following video, consider how much nutrition is in an egg from a chicken treated like what you are about to see. If you are not comfortable with the truth, do not watch this. Very graphic.

Family Food Security
Owning and raising hens creates a tremendous sense of security. Regardless of what happens around you. Your family has the ability to produce ounce for ounce and pound for pound the highest packed protein food source on the planet.

Our vast interdependent complex system we depend on could breakdown at the drop of a hat. A crisis could result from a wide variety of events, both natural and man made. In the last few years in parts of our country and around the world we are seeing some familiar and unfamiliar scenarios unfold.

Just recently we have seem some abnormal weather anomalies that have done some serious damage. Every year it seems like we are experiencing something different. As a country we are currently facing global financial collapse and the possibility of war with Iran, and the Middle East.

Food and gas prices are skyrocketing. We all see and feel it. Growing vegetables and raising hens helps offset the increasing living cost. Food Price Index

Towns do not have the resources to take care of their residents. Being prepared is not about negative gloom and doom. The act of being prepared is a positive action. Having something you need when you need it is positive.

Town officials need to start encouraging their residents to take care of themselves and become less dependent of their state and local governments. Old laws need to be reviewed and changed to mirror our current times. With a goal to help, not hurt in the quest for self-sufficiency.

Setting A Good Example For Sustainability
When it comes to residential sustainability some US towns have fallen way behind.

The fact is municipalities use less than 1% of the total energy consumed by most states. Towns can blanket their buildings with solar panels and it would not make a dent in total energy consumption. It won't make a difference until town officials start encouraging home owners to start practicing a more efficient sustainable lifestyle.

It's 2012 and residents I have to fight to change a law for the permission to live a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. Towns and cities should be encouraging residents to do these things, instead you need to fight for it.

Allowing residents to own chicken hens will help in this effort.
A small step in the right direction.

Local & Residential Sustainability Raising Hens
There is no waste with raising hens. Everything the chicken hen produces is used. The eggs are for healthy eating. If your hens produce a bit more eggs than you need, just give them away to friends and family.

Egg shells are packed with Calcium. Crushed egg shells add valuable nutrients to soil. Calcium is essential for cell growth in all plants. Calcium is especially important for fast growing plants because they quickly deplete the surrounding soil of calcium.

The second you start raising chicken hens you lower your families carbon footprint. The practice of urban homesteading and raising chicken hens has a POSITIVE effect on the local environment. The chicken law currently on the books contradicts what Wayne is trying to achieve.

Raising backyard chickens is now synonymous with sustainability. Wayne and other towns do an outstanding job in promoting sustainability. But as a town you cannot promote sustainability and not allow your residents to raise hens. You can’t achieve one without the other.

Living in the northeast we get most of our food from southern states, out west, Latin America, and even China. Food and eggs are first shipped to wholesale grocery supply companies like C&S Wholesale Company. Then, the wholesale company distributes the food and eggs to local supermarkets.

When buying food and eggs we have to consider the amount of resources it takes to get our food to our local supermarkets and the fuel used to travel to the market. It all adds up. Once less trip to the market makes a difference.

Chicken Manure As Fertilizer
Chicken waste is gardening gold. Composted chicken manure is one of the most sought after fertilizers for gardeners! Chicken manure fertilizer is very high in nitrogen and also contains a good amount of potassium and phosphorus. The high nitrogen and balanced nutrients is the reason that chicken manure compost is the best kind of manure to use.

It’s a fact that nitrogen helps to produce larger and healthier fruits and vegetables.

Coops with wheels can be moved around the yard to feed your lawn with rich nitrogen, so you can stop using harsh lawn chemicals. Calcium and nitrogen help keep your garden soil, grass, and plants healthy.

Backyard chickens provide lessons for children about responsibility and where food comes from. Tending chickens is pleasurable and even easier than caring for a dog. There is no walking the chickens or even giving them a bath. Chickens require daily food, fresh water, and a coop cleaning from time to time.

One in three young adults unaware that eggs come from chickens

Children can participate in all of these chicken-related chores. The happier the hens, the more they will produce. A child's favorite chicken-related chore is running out to the coop to collect the fresh eggs.

Currently in the U.S. our high school students are learning food security, altering consumption patterns, and developing sustainable practices in our environmental science classes. Raising backyard hens plays a part in all 3.

Insect Control
Chickens provide natural insect control. As they hunt and peck for food, chickens gobble up grubs, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, earwigs, tics, slugs, stinkbugs, beetles, fleas, and other bugs, treating our garden pests as tasty, nutritious treats.

This method has a positive impact on the local environment by reducing the use of harsh backyard chemicals and pesticides. Backyard Pest Control

Raising Hens Will Save You Money
Chickens are pets with a purpose. Hens lay eggs their entire life and live up to over 15 years old. By providing a high protein food source chicken hens pay for themselves.

Organic Eggs in supermarkets cost as much $5.00 per dozen. Up 24% from March 1st 2011. With rising inflation and oil prices food and dairy cost could be rising dramatically.

Egg prices expected to rise: Click For More Info
Food prices are soaring: USDA Analysis and forecasts of the CPI for food

Chicken hens each lay about 300 eggs per year. So with 5 hens you get 1,500 eggs per year. Purchasing organic eggs in the supermarket would cost a family $586.20 a year.
Buying Eggs vs. Raising The Numbers
The Numbers Amount Per Year Cost Total
Chicken Hens 5 5 every 3 years $8.00 $40.00
Chicken Feed 50 lbs. Bags 6 300 lbs. $17.00 $102.00
Scratch Feed 50 lbs. Bags 2 100 lbs. $17.00 $34.00
Pine Shavings 6 Cubic Feet 2 12 Cubic Ft. $8.00 $16.00
Total $182.00

Raising your own backyard flock would cost approximately $182.00 per year. That's a savings of over $400.00 per year. In our current troubled times raising hens for eggs
will save families money.

Composted chicken manure is one of the most sought after fertilizers for gardeners! Chicken manure is now being sold for $.50 a pound. 20 pounds $10.00 Black Gold
Backyard gardeners having access to this and not having to buy fertilizers is a tremendous savings.

For those who want to slaughter chicken hens for meat. First you will need the contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a free IA test. USDA will fax a pass to your local slaughter house for a 48 hour slaughter window.

Create Town Revenue
Just like a dog license, chicken owners will have to acquire a license for a fee (tax) from the town health department to own and raise hens. All these same things can apply to chicken owners.

There are good dog owners and there are bad dog owners. Chicken hen owners are not going to be any different. Just like a barking dog can become a nuisance, if a resident’s Hen becomes a nuisance or a resident abuses the law then the town will deal with it just as it would a barking dog.

Town revenue is hard to come by. Towns can use the new chicken hen law to promote sustainability and create revenue for the town. Our country, states, counties, towns, and residents are strapped for cash and resources are running out.

On a local level town officials need to enable and encourage residents to become less dependent on government resources. Dependence on government has rose over 23% in the last two years. Over 67 million Americans now rely on some federal program.

Food prices are soaring.
Egg prices expected to rise - consumers warned.

Families will save over $400 a year raising just 5 hens. Town officials are always looking for ways to help local residents save money. Support the new chicken law and kill 3 birds with 1 stone. Promote sustainability, improve health, and help local families save money.

The Hen House
Chicken coops are now designed for all types of applications. Coop designs can be totally charming, upscale and even whimsical. You can convert an existing shed for under $50.00 or spend up to $5,000 for a beautiful dollhouse replica.

Hens need about 2 square feet in the coop and about 5 sq ft. of an outside chicken run. So with 5 hens you will only need 35 square feet to raise happy healthy hens. As long as the hens have a dry box for egg laying, a roost for sleeping and grooming, and are kept out of the wind in the winter, really anything goes.

Some of the coop designs I have seen are just remarkable and very innovative. There are even coops with wheels so you can move the coop around the yard to feed your lawn with rich nitrogen and stop using harsh lawn chemicals.
Chicken Coop Pictures

In Closing
Looking at some of these issues with common sense you quickly realize there is not much to go on. After reading this I hope you would agree that all U.S. residents should be allowed to own and raise 3 to 5 hens (no roosters) regardless of the size of their properties.

Town officials should take a forward-looking approach to this matter and recognize all the benefits associated with this ordinance change and vote on FACTS, not personal opinions.

You personally may not want to own and raise chicken hens. That’s your choice.
I should also have a choice and I choose health and sustainability over anything else.

Any questions please call 201.220.4862
Victor Alfieri, editor
Urban Homesteading Expert
Removing The Myths About Backyard Hens

Property Values and Raising Hens
You can personally believe your neighbor raising hens will lower the value of your home. The problem with making a statement like this is there is absolutely no data supporting your claim.

I can say chickens lay golden eggs, it doesn't make it true.

In fact there is data proving otherwise. Forbes lists of the 10 healthiest real estate markets and all but one city allow chickens. Greener Living
Springfield, MO - Voted October 2010 to allow for backyard chickens
Denver, CO – chickens have been allowed for some time. They even have an annual event the “tour de coup.”
Albuquerque, NM - allows up to 15 chickens and one rooster. You may even slaughter for food. (not my bag but noteworthy none the less)
Colorado Springs, CO – 10 chickens and no roosters.
San Antonio, TX – you may have up to 5 livestock animals (including sheeps, goats, pigs, cows) and of that number 3 can be chickens without a permit.
Austin, TX – Up to 10 chickens allowed and they do a funky chicken coop tour
McAllen, TX - you may have up to 6 per acre
Raleigh, NC – no limit on number of chickens kept
Currently in our country real estate company's in trying to find new ways to sell homes are offering brand new chicken coops with the purchase of a new home.

National Association of Realtors
NJ Association of Realtors

Chickens Are Not Pets
Of course they are and great ones too. Hens are the one pet that produces things that improve your life. Chickens are pets with a purpose. Hens lay eggs their entire life and live up to over 15 years old. By providing a high protein food source, chicken hens pay for themselves.

Over 6,000,000 homes in the USA own indoor birds as pets. Snakes are pets. Horses, rabbits, spiders, and rats are pets. In New York City, NY, chickens are considered pets under the Health Code. Unlimited number of hens are allowed.

Urban Chickens vs. other Urban Pets Comparison Chart
Urban hens are similar to other familiar pets in many ways, with a few very positive differences.

Hens Need Roosters
One of the biggest myths is that you need roosters to produce eggs. This is not true. You do not need roosters to get fresh healthy organic eggs. Hens do this naturally all by themselves. Roosters are only needed if you intend to breed and reproduce chickens. Roosters do not lay eggs.

Disease and Bird Flu Concerns
The fact is New Jersey has never had one documented case of the Bird Flu.

When talking about Birds and disease please keep in mind birds are everywhere. There are over 9,800 bird species living today. There over 350 species in New Jersey alone.

There are more chickens in the US than there are people on the planet. When talking about birds and disease you have to consider all family pets. The national Center for Disease Control mentions 3 public health issues with chickens (birds), 16 for cats,
and 17 for dogs! Cats Dogs Birds

Please keep in mind chicken hens do not enter your home. Dogs and cats are fed in most home kitchens and sleep in most peoples beds.

Disease and bird flu argument is only brought up by residents and town officials who
are reaching for excuses. Most town officials don’t seem to be worried about all the Canadian Geese running around our local school fields, parks, and golf courses.

Any one of us can go out today and purchase an exotic imported bird from our local
pet store and keep them in our homes as pets. Over 6,000,000 homes in the USA own indoor birds.

The more you own of any pet, the more likely there will be disease. Town officials should be more concerned with the larger flocks residents currently own, and less concerned about residents owning 3 to 5 hens.

There is absolutely no study that proves you are more likely to get disease or bird flu with raising chickens on smaller properties than 2 acres. If town officials are concerned about disease than no residents should have the right to raise chickens.

The fact is in the USA pigeons and winter starlings carry more diseases than any other bird.
Pest control experts and public health specialists warn that there are dozens of different human pathogens associated with pigeons, including some that can be dangerous or even deadly. Many experts feel that pigeons are a significant health risk to people.

Chickens are legal in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, NY City, and the highest populated city in the country Brooklyn NY. These cities don't seem to be worried about disease and bird flu. Why is your town?

Click For U.S. Global Health Policy - CASES
Avian Influenza A/(H5N1) Cumulative Number of Confirmed Human Cases

Click For U.S. Global Health Policy - DEATHS
Avian Influenza A/(H5N1) Cumulative Number of Confirmed Human Deaths

Chickens and There Waste Attract Rodents
This is absolutely not true. Chickens do not attract rodents. In fact chicken hens chase and kill rodents. Chickens are omnivores. They eat seeds and insects but also larger prey like small mice and lizards.

Why on earth would rodents be attracted to chicken waste?
Rodents don't eat chicken waste.

What attracts rodents is the chicken feed. (bird seed)

When using this argument opposing the owning of hens please keep in mind feeding birds is not ILLEGAL.

Bird food is sold in every supermarket, pet store, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Lowes, Target, even Walgreens has 20 lb bags
of birdseed.

There is NO difference between feeding wild birds, domestic chicken hens, rabbits, and pigeons.

Unless you intend on making feeding birds ILLEGAL this argument cannot be used.

Example: My retired neighbor Joe loves feeding birds and has many bird feeders all over his yard. Even has a platform feeder for laying out peanuts and sliced fruit for the Blue Jays and Cardinals. He keeps a log of bird species that enter his yard from year to year. Joe can peacefully sit in his backyard and feed the birds all day whenever he wants with bird food.

A small list of things that attract rodents around the house. Vegetable gardens, flowers, flower bulbs, compost bins, bird feeders, bird food, Honeybees (honey) dog and cat food, garbage, dirty BBQ's, insects, rabbit feed, pigeon feed, Koi fish pond feed, and free standing water.

Chickens Attract Wildlife
Yes chickens do attract wildlife. Birds, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, skunks, raccoons, groundhogs, turtles, beavers, possum, snakes, fox, coyote, bobcat, turkey, and black bears.

To use this argument against allowing residents to own and raise chicken hens,
you need to understand and consider all things that also attract wildlife.

Vegetable gardens, flowers, flower bulbs, tall grass, compost bins, bird feeders,
bird food, Honeybees (honey), worm farms, barking dogs, cats, garbage, dirty BBQ's, insects, rabbit coops, pigeon coops, Koi fish ponds and free standing water.

Chickens Are Noisy
Every bird on the planet makes noise. Chickens are no exception. But the noisy culprit is the ROOSTER NOT THE HEN. Roosters are noisy because they protect the flock, engage in male courting, fights for dominance, and territorial battles.

With 3 to 5 hens there is no fighting for dominance, THERE’S NO MALE. There's no territorial battle because chickens are instinctual. They understand that with only 3 to 5 chickens they need each other to survive.

In the wild when chickens want to lay an egg they break from the pack and seek privacy. When they are finished they let out a loud call to find their pack members. In a Chicken coop with 5 chickens or less there is no need for this behavior, all 5 chickens are very aware of each others locations.

Making noise uses energy. Instinctually the call out is unnecessary and pointless. Chickens are survivors the last thing they want is to attract unnecessary attention to themselves and their newly lain eggs. Chicken have been around since 2500 BC. I do not think they would have survived this long running around making noise all day attracting predators.

Chickens need and want sunlight. When the sun goes down, so does the chicken. They go into their
coops and go to bed. Un-like big barking dogs.

Noise is measured in decibels. Dogs have been
recorded louder than 100 decibels.

Human conversation is measured at 60 decibels. Chicken hens at their loudest have about the same decibel level as human conversation around 60 decibels.

Hens are so quiet that there have been cases of family flocks being kept for years without the next door neighbors knowing it.

This is because of sound drop off. Example 70 decibels measured one foot from the source that has traveled only 20 feet ranges down to 49 decibels.
Chickens Quieter Than Neighborhood Birds
Buffalo Rising City Chickens

Chicken hens are not noisy, dogs are.

In towns it’s legal to do construction and run power tools at 110 decibels morning, noon, and night from 7am to 10pm.

Also I can own 1,000 pigeons, do pigeons not make noise?

My wife and I sit in my backyard reading and hear mowers, blowers, weed wackers, power washers, power saws, and all kinds of power tools all over 100 decibels. The people using these tools are recommended to use ear safety protection.

And it's ILLEGAL for my family to raise 5 chicken hens because they might be too noisy?
This argument does not fly. There are to many things around us that make plenty of noise. There is a long list of things that are too noisy and chickens are not one of them.

Every home makes noise in one form or another. Some people like using power tools, other people like loud music, some yards are filled with loud kids and barking dogs.
Some homes have old central air units that power up and power down all day long.
We all have our thing. We need to learn to coexist.

Links Charts Info
Murray Hill Hatchery
Sarasota Cluck

Chickens Will Get Loose and Roam The Streets
Absolutely Not True. Chickens are very vulnerable. With the kind of wild life out there chickens would not last more than 1 or 2 nights in the wild. This is why we do not see chickens running around the streets in local towns where chickens are legal.

Chickens Are Dirty
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever seen a dirty bird? The answer is NO and NEVER. They don't exist. Chickens are birds and just like any other bird chickens spend up to 4 hours a day grooming.

You may think a bird looks dirty. I worked in the city for 13 years and I think pigeons are absolutely filthy, but are they really? Chickens have been around since 2500 BC. The notion that chickens are dirty is absolutely ridiculous and not worth spending anymore time on.

Chicken Waste Smells Bad
You can say chicken (bird) waste smells 100 different ways, But it doesn't make it true.

Now if chicken hen waste smells, then so does rabbit, pigeon, and dog waste. Check with your town to see how many of these pets are allowed.

Let's put this into perspective. A 40-pound dog generates more solid waste than 10 chicken hens. To be more specific, one 40-pound dog generates .75 pounds of poop every single day. Five 40-pound dogs generate 3.75 pounds of poop every single day. That is equivalent to owning 56 hens. Five 2-pound chicken hens generate .33 pounds per day.

The animal does not determine the smell of
the waste it produces. The food the animal
eats determines the smell of the waste the
animal produces. Chicken feed is made out
of whole grains.

But the fact is, just like dog and cat food, chicken feed is scientifically designed to eliminate odors. Many years ago pet food manufacturers realized pet owners didn't like smelly pets.

Zoo's in California were the first to start looking
for an all natural biological solution to neutralize animal waste. And they discovered "Yucca Schidigera" in southeastern California.

Yucca Schidigera, also known as the Mojave yucca or Spanish Dagger, is a flowering plant that is native to the Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert of southeastern California, Baja California, southern Nevada and western Arizona.

After having success in zoo's, it was then added to bird seed for homeowners who owned indoor birds like Parrots, Canaries, Finches, Conures, and Cockatiels.

Over 6,000,000 homes in the USA own indoor birds.

Forms of pure "Yucca Schidigera" Root Powder is
now used in all pet foods including chicken feed.

"Yucca Schidigera" is what pet and chicken feed
manufacturers add to food to eliminate pet waste odors.
The extracts from this plant are in animal feed and various
herbal medications. It is used as a natural deodorizer, and
is used in pet deodorizers.

This is why CHICKEN HEN WASTE DOES NOT SMELL and most certainly not with only 5 chicken hens.

What would you rather have living next to you. 5 dogs or 5 chicken hens?

Links To Support The Facts:
Pure "Yucca Schidigera" Root Powder
Ultra Bio-Logics Inc. Printable Pdf
Yucca Schidigera Extract NP Raw Material (Food Grade)
University Studies Yuca

Town Law Contradictions
Check your town laws to find the contradictions.

Point On Dogs
Now I own and love dogs. This is to point out the contradiction in the law. In Wayne NJ it's LEGAL for residents to own and raise 5 Pit Bulls. But it's ILLEGAL to own and raise 5 chicken hens.

There are more than 72 million pet dogs in the U.S. and nearly 82 million pet cats.

Residents in Wayne can raise 5 dogs per household. It’s cruel but Wayne law states that dogs do not have to be kept in your home. With the proper housing dogs can be kept in your yard for their entire life never entering your home.

lronically, just like backyard chicken hens would be kept.

An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the
US each year. Every 40 seconds, someone in
the United States seeks medical attention for
a dog bite. Dog bite losses exceed $1 billion
per year, with over $300 million paid by homeowners insurance.

Most of the victims are children, and most of
them are bitten on the face. Between 1982
and 2006 dogs were responsible for 2209 Attacks, 264 Deaths, and 1323 Mameings.
All The Facts On Dog Bites

The National Center for Disease Control mentions 3 public health issues with birds,
16 for cats, and 17 for dogs. Cats Dogs Birds

Dogs have no health or sustainability benefits to the community. In fact dogs increase families carbon footprints. One 40-pound dog generates more solid waste than 10 chicken hens.

If town officials and residents are concerned about noise, smell, and public safety, it doesn't seem like chicken hens are the problem. Point is, if you are against residents owning chicken hens, then you must be against residents owning dogs.

Bunny Rabbits
Town resident regardless of the size of their yard can raise, breed, sell, and slaughter rabbits without a license. As many as you want with no yard restrictions or coop setbacks. Rabbits can be kept outside in your yard all year long.

lronically, just like backyard chicken hens would be kept.

Rabbits are known to carry rabies and have
razor sharp teeth. Hundreds of injuries are
reported each year from rabbit bites mainly
around the Easter holiday. Rabbits are known
to become very aggressive.

Now rabbits do have a sustainable benefit to
the community. Their waste is very similar to
chicken waste mostly made up of nitrogen and
perfect for the garden. But their meat is very
low in protein and for the urban homesteader
raising chickens is more beneficial.

The contradiction is that in Wayne NJ it's
ILLEGAL to own chicken hens, But It's LEGAL to own, raise, breed, sell, and slaughter as many rabbits as I want. 20, 30, or 40, no restrictions. As far as smell, their waste is almost exactly the same as chickens, mostly made up of nitrogen.

I wonder how 50 rabbits would smell?

Indoor Exotic Birds
Today over 6,000,000 homes in the USA own indoor birds. Any one of us can go out today and purchase an exotic imported bird form our local pet store and keep them in our homes as pets. Indoor birds like Parrots, Canaries, Finches, Conures, and Cockatiels.

Domestic Pigeons
Currently resident regardless of the size of your yard can own, breed, sell, and release pigeons. Wayne residents can own as many pigeons as they want with no limits and without a license from animal control. 1,000 or 2,000 No Limit.

Pigeons are kept in coops. Ironically, just like
backyard chicken hens would be kept.

Owning pigeons does not have any health or
sustainability benefits to the local community.
The fact is in the USA pigeons and winter
starlings carry more diseases than any other
bird on the east coast.

The contradiction is that in Wayne NJ it's ILLEGAL to own chicken hens, But It's LEGAL to own and raise 1,000 or 2,000 domestic pigeons in your yard with a coop no larger than 1,200 square foot.

By Jono Miller
Sarasota, Florida

Across the country chicken lovers are fighting for the right to keep a few hens. The City of Sarasota is thought of as a Florida resort/retirement community with great beaches—an image that may not include backyard chickens, but after an 18-month campaign we secured a 5-0 vote to legalize backyard hens. Now you can learn from our experience and our mistakes.

We assumed that we could simply ask the City Commission to change the laws and they would. That was naïve. First we had to get the Commission to direct their planning staff to research the possibility and propose an approach. We worked with staff to shape that proposal. Then we had to go before the Planning Board (which did not support us) before actually getting a revised ordinance in front of the Commission.
Every chicken loves tomatoes, even this city chick, Sarah, a Buff Brahma. Photos courtesy of Jean Blackburn.

So here is what we learned:

1) Don't assume it will be quick and plan to work closely with those who will be framing the proposal. Our planners were cautious and skeptical at first, but came around once they learned about the experiences in other communities. Having planning staff support helped offset the unfavorable planning board vote. Luckily one of the city planners lived in the country and kept chickens, which leads to the next tip.

2) Your chances are greatly improved if you have supporters inside the system. Ideally, cultivate at least one supporter on the final decision making body, the planning staff, and any planning advisory board. These people can speak from the dais when you can't, and give you important insider tips on strategy and tactics. And having one early-supporter insider reduces the number of others you have to convince. If you can't start with a decision-maker that supports you, find some supporters who are savvy about

local politics. One obvious source: former elected officials or other opinion leaders — we ended up with three former commissioners supporting us and that said a lot. If possible, identify a spokesperson who knows both chickens and the local political scene.

The media are pre-disposed to be on your side — the backyard chicken topic is trendy, and ready for puns and word play in both headlines and copy. Naming our group CLUCK and having slogans like "Give peeps a chance" certainly didn't hurt. When we saw the headline Chicken Advocates Want Ban Scratched we knew the press was itching to cover our quest.

3) Make contact with media early and not just the news staff, — be sure to court the editorial boards, because you'll need them before any hearings. Our biggest local paper switched from a somewhat critical Hatch a Compromise editorial to Make Way for Chickens after we met with the editorial board and addressed their concerns. Reading a positive editorial in the local paper can help elected officials make the right choice.

Early on we made a commitment to "address all reasonable concerns" and to do so honestly. Whenever there is a disagreement about the impacts of hens, you want to be on the side that appears the more reasonable and researched. Document your assertions — there is a lot of information online, including on our Sarasota CLUCK blog:

4) If opponents have a valid concern, address it — don't ignore it or engage in personal attacks. Treat your opposition with respect, even if they have not earned it — your behavior will eventually influence the decision-makers, even if it is subconsciously.
This hen named Sarah, fits in well as a mascot for the "Sara"-sota Cluck Chicken Group.

5) As part of your reasonableness, be willing to compromise. Decision makers will not understand chickens the way you do and will have some demands you believe are unreasonable. We had to let go of our quest for six hens and settle for four. And we ended up adding "comfort language" we didn't think was really necessary but which helped reassure skeptics. Start with your ideal (but reasonable) position but be willing to give a little — demonstrating you are not dogmatic about chickens reinforces the idea that you are not crazy chicken lovers (even if some of you are).

If your situation was like ours, you'll have a few reliable supporters that will show up at virtually all the meetings and hearings and a far larger group who are sympathetic but not as passionately engaged. Believe it or not, this second group may end up making the difference in your campaign.

6) Find every ally you can. People keeping chickens illegally in your community are justifiably reluctant to speak up, so get letters from those with supportive, sympathetic neighbors and redact (black out) their names and addresses leaving the city and zip code. Testimony from real neighbors who don't find chickens to be problematic can be very persuasive when compared to speculative what-if horror stories. Seek out the county extension office, 4-H, local and slow food advocates, chefs and restaurant owners, farmers market people, community gardeners, CSAs, college students, young professionals, public radio, whoever.

And do whatever you can to document support. Elected officials find it easier to do the right thing if they are convinced the majority supports them and the vocal minority is just that; a small group of squeaky gears. Use petitions, but design the form to collect phone or email contact info. A list of supporter's names and addresses alone won't help you when you have to get people to a hearing.

7) Get names and contact info for everyone that attends a meeting, they have already proven they are willing to leave home to support chickens. These folks will be the source of most of your team leadership.

We found the Internet to be a valuable part of our campaign. One of us started a website with basic information about the campaign and our meeting info. Another started a Facebook group, which quickly grew to 500. Facebook is a great way to stay in touch, particularly with younger supporters. And I started a blog that automatically posted to a local news aggregator website that got our message in front of thousands.

8) Whether or not you own a computer, find at least one supporter who is computer savvy and use the Internet to your advantage. See if there is a local "Patch" news website or news aggregator website. In addition to getting our word out, the Internet was a great source of information and inspiration. Every argument thrown at us had already been addressed by people who had already gone through the process in places like Salem, Oregon, Springfield, Missouri, and Montgomery, Ohio. These communities made our success possible.
This handsome White Cubalaya rooster won't be living in Sarasota, or most other cities, once the guidelines are set up to allow chickens within city limits. Concern about noise/crowing are one of the main arguments for banning chickens in the city, so roosters are almost always banned.

9) All politics is local, so collect whatever geographic data you can about your supporters. You may eventually have to lobby neighborhood groups (we did), so knowing who your inside supporters are will be invaluable. Most of our opposition came from neighborhood organizations with predictable concerns about odor, noise, disease, etc. and some adopted anti-chicken positions before they even heard what we were proposing. We looked inside those neighborhoods to find our supporters and made sure their voices were heard at neighborhood board meetings.

10) In every organization and every neighborhood there is at least one person, and usually more, favorably disposed to backyard chickens. Your job is to find them and learn how to call on them when they are needed. Even if they can't secure a "yes" vote, they can help neutralize the opposition. And make sure those who speak at hearings are people who can vote for those making the decisions. We learned quickly that our city leaders bristled at support from those outside city limits.

11) There are people in your community who will benefit financially if backyard chickens are legalized. Secure their support. Years ago they might have been seen as "special interests," today they are part of reviving the local economy. Post information about your initiative at feed stores (to get the attention of the local chicken underground who are buying feed for their stealth hens) and while you are there, look for people that might build coops. Use the online National Poultry Improvement Program (NPIP) searchable database to find hatcheries, independent flocks, and dealers near you. These are nearby professionals dedicated to disease-free poultry. Your supporters are their potential local market. These are the local folks with an economic interest in your campaign, people who can get citizens to hearings.

12) Having a few gorgeous, mellow hens that can go to neighborhood meetings is a great idea. We had a buff Brahma hen named Sarah that was our unofficial goodwill ambassador. No one could take offense to Sarah and most were seduced by her fluffy charms. She drew people in and, after a chat, most who met her signed our petition.

In retrospect, we're not sure why it took us so long, but all that is behind us and coops are sprouting up all around town. I believe that if you have the patience of a broody hen, the focus of a rooster, and unruffled confidence of Sarah the Brahma, you will prevail.

Learn more about Sarasota CLUCK at their blog:

Jono Miller moved to Sarasota, Florida in 1970 to attend college. He graduated in 1974 with an area of concentration in Environmental Studies.

By 1977 he was serving on local government advisory boards, volunteering with the Sierra Club and helping to teach about the environment. Best known for his work on land protection, the Myakka River and water issues, Jono has received awards from The Nature Conservancy, Sarasota County, 1000 Friends of Florida, and the National Sierra Club for his contributions protecting environmentally sensitive lands in Sarasota County. In 2008 he ran for a seat on the Sarasota County Commission.

His most recent excursion in the political realm involved a successful 18-month campaign to legalize backyard chickens in the City of Sarasota. He currently chairs the Myakka River Management Coordinating Council and the County's Environmental Policy Task Force.



Published by Order of the Common Council


Restricted species ... 3-52

Sec. 3-52. Restricted species.
(a) Except as otherwise permitted within this section,
no person shall keep, sell or offer for sale within the City
any horses, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, bees, pigeons,
chickens, geese, ducks or other fowl or any other domestic
animal other than a dog, cat, rabbit, small caged birds,
small caged animals or reptiles or aquatic and amphibian
animals, kept solely as pets.

I sincerly hopes this helps if you want me to take this off your fourm because of how much room it take up please PM meThank you Jessa for starting this fourm.

Edited by TreeGirlChicken - 4/4/13 at 7:25pm
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