A Poultry Breeders Perspective on Arkansas Baby Chick Laws

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by HallFamilyFarm, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. HallFamilyFarm

    HallFamilyFarm APA ETL#195

    Jan 25, 2010
    Monticello, Arkansas
    Note: this was intended for publication in our local news. Just wanted to share. Feel free to edit and place your local information and your name. Really do not care who gets credit, as long as folks are educated. We will also make this availabel to our local farm supply, along with a handout on raising chicks.

    A Poultry Breeders Perspective
    Jim Hall, Drew County 4H Poultry Club leader

    Poultry are a flock bird. Within a flock there is comfort, companionship and contentment for each member of the flock. With baby chicks, ducklings, poults, etc. they have a natural instinct to flock together. Many times a single chick will die of loneliness. With Easter a few days away, many will want to purchase a baby chick for the children. What will you do when the chick is grown? Many breeds of poultry live very long lives. A chicken can live to more than 13 years. A goose can live to be 25 or more years old. With any pet, one must contemplate the full cost and long term obligations of the pet. With poultry one must consider housing and maintenance for the long term.

    Keeping poultry can be a very enjoyable hobby. The online forum backyardchickens.com has over 60,000 members. The backyard garden craze is partly to blame for the backyard poultry explosion. Some keep backyard flocks for fun, others exhibition and still others for wholesome fresh eggs. When the Recession hit, many started planting gardens. We recalled how our grandparents survived the Great Depression. There were the Victory Gardens and the backyard flocks. Sunday dinner came out of the garden and the coop, not the grocery store. So in recent months thousands have started keeping backyard flocks. Even Uncle Sam wanted folks to keep a backyard flock. http://www.poultrytribune.com/photo/uncle-sam-expects-you-to-keep?context=latest

    Many celebrities have backyard flocks. Little Rock’s P. Allen Smith has a very large flock of Heritage chickens, ducks and turkeys. Martha Stewart, Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling are among many celebrities that raise backyard poultry.

    Before purchasing a baby chick, ask yourself these questions:
    Am I prepared to have this chick for another 10 years? 13 years?
    Who will care for this chick?
    Where will I house this chick?
    What will I feed this chick?
    Do I have a brooder or tub that will keep this chick constantly warm at 95 degrees?

    Yesterday, I saw a family at our local farm supply. The mother wanted to purchase a baby chick for her children. Posted on the brooders was the state statute on selling baby chicks. It is unlawful in Arkansas to sell in quantity less than six (6). It is a Class C misdemeanor with a possible fine of up to $500 and/or up to 30 days in jail. This mother became very upset because the clerk would not sell her just one baby chick. The law was passed to protect one of God’s creatures. Hopefully this mother will read this article and come to understand the reasoning behind the law. Hopefully she will bring her children to our 4H Club meetings and help them learn about poultry. Then she can help them pick out a small flock of chicks, with equipment, heat, feed and water ready.

    The Drew County 4H Poultry Club meets the second Tuesday of each month. Contact the leader, Jim Hall at 870/723-3724

    Ark. Stat. Ann. § 5-62-121 (2003)
    § 5-62-121. Transfer of certain chicks, ducklings, or rabbits
    (a) It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to sell or offer for sale, barter, or give away living baby chicks, rabbits, or ducklings under two (2) months of age in any quantity less than six (6).

    (b) It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to sell, offer for sale, barter, give away, or display living baby chicks, rabbits, or ducklings which have been dyed, colored, or otherwise treated so as to impart to them an artificial color.

    (c) This section shall not be construed to prohibit the sale or display of natural baby chicks, rabbits, or ducklings in proper brooder facilities by hatcheries or stores engaged in the business of selling them for commercial purposes.

    (d) Any person, firm, or corporation violating any of the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction, be deemed guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.

    (e) Nothing in this section shall prohibit growers of living baby chicks, rabbits, ducklings, or other fowl from selling or making gifts thereof in quantities they deem appropriate.
  2. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Crowing

    Aug 4, 2010
    San Diego
    I like what you have posted. Plus, one thing that you or anyone else using this article might want to mention is that poultry is not allowed to be kept all areas, towns, HOAs, etc. A lot of people don't know that and will purchase ducks or chicks, plan on keeping them long-term, but are forced to give the up when code enforcement knocks on their door.

    Thanks for giving the rights to republish this article. I do publish articles on various sites, but I'm not sure if I will republish it, but I might.
  3. 1 hen and 1 roo

    1 hen and 1 roo Chirping

    Jul 16, 2011
    Ouachita Mountains
    Well Jim, this law makes me angry. I understand for shipping purposes you need more chicks in a box to sell them. However, for face to face selling or giving away there should never be a restriction of quantity.
    I understand that many people get chicks for their kids not realizing what they are actually getting in the first place. The issue is not the quantity, it is the fact they are buying a living breathing animal and giving it to a child to care for it. That would be the first mistake. Second would be the seller or giving away person most likely did not inform them of the needs of that small chick. Requirements should be made on the things that must be sold with a baby chick or make them sign a waiver stating they have those items at home already. Chicks are cute and kids want them but if they knew the responsibility they would never get it and if they had 6 to care for the responsibility is even greater! Baby chicks often die from butt paste not brooder temperature even though brooder temperature is a factor as well. They will die from lack of feed or water as well and from disease from unclean living conditions.
    This law sounds as though it prohibits breeders of exhibition poultry from selling or giving away chicks at shows if the receiver does not want 6 chicks. Most often it is hard to get the receiver to buy/receive 2 chicks much less 6 chicks. I understand that they huddle together to stay warm but in the middle of the summer warmth is not the issue.
    I just can't believe anyone would be able to get such a law passed. Sadly, often times a law is passed for one purpose but has a stipulation attached to it and it gets passed as well.
    Just my thoughts and feeling on the matter as an Exhibition Breeder and Exhibitor of Poultry as well as Backyard Flock

    P.S. you mentioned 4-H: most 4-hers that we know do not want or need 6 chicks to show. They only want 1 or up to 3 to show in the county fair so 6 would put more of a burden on the 4-hers family. What is the purpose behind the 4-her showing in the fair (they learn how to care for the animal and learn responsibility).
  4. Chick Norris

    Chick Norris Chirping

    Apr 16, 2011
    Chester County, PA
    It looks to me like section (e) is there to protect breeders. It exempts them from the restrictions. The spirit of the law seems to be to prevent shady middlemen from selling single chicks to people during Easter. If someone comes in looking to buy one chick for his/her kid at Easter, the fact that he/she must buy 6 will most likely be an effective deterrent.

  5. chickenwoman45

    chickenwoman45 In the Brooder

    Sep 5, 2011
    That law makes me extremely angry!
  6. 1 hen and 1 roo

    1 hen and 1 roo Chirping

    Jul 16, 2011
    Ouachita Mountains
    We called to get clarification regarding this law and found that it does not apply to us. It applies to places like Feed Store, Atwoods, etc. Not backyard chicken owners or breeders.
    That is a relief for us.
    Still not a good law for the local businesses. We heard that Atwoods is not going to carry chicks anymore because of that law.
    I understand when something is bad, fix what is bad but do not punish everyone else for one's bad.
  7. HallFamilyFarm

    HallFamilyFarm APA ETL#195

    Jan 25, 2010
    Monticello, Arkansas
    Received this in an email from a local teacher today. Should I give her some eggs so she can give single chicks out to her students?

    Quote: I responded with:


    We have some shipped eggs coming in that when hatched, will go to one of our 4H members.

    How soon do you need the eggs? What were you planning on doing with the chicks?

    If we can help, we will.

    And she sent back:

  8. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    I responded with:


    We have some shipped eggs coming in that when hatched, will go to one of our 4H members.

    How soon do you need the eggs? What were you planning on doing with the chicks?

    If we can help, we will.

    And she sent back:

    A local preschool hatches eggs from my birds each year. There is ALWAYS the understanding that all the chicks come back to me. One year I let another school hatch some eggs. Both that teacher and her husband, another teacher were hatching eggs from several people. When I went to pick up my chicks (I had told her that part of the deal was that I got all my chicks back), there was not really anyone to pick up the other chicks--one of the people they got some of the eggs from was reluctantly coming by later to pick up "some" of them. In my opinion, hatching eggs when there is no ultimate plan for what will happen to ALL the chicks that hatch is beyond irresponsible!

    A few times I have given some of the chicks to an employee of the school who specifically asked for them. However, I would have to question the idea of a teacher arranging for pets for her students. In most cases this is rather out of line. It would partly depend on HOW it was presented to the parents. "We will be hatching chicks this quarter, some of them may be available for the children to keep after our project is completed, please let me know if you are interested" is quite a bit different than "we are hatching out chicks this quarter, and plant to provide one for every child as a pet to keep, please let me know if this is not convenient for you."

    Also, whether the students live in a rural farming community versus in a city or town, what the local ordinances and zoning are concerning poultry would make a difference. You could offer for her to hatch some of your eggs or the ones coming for the 4Her, with the understanding that all the chicks will be returned to you a couple of weeks after the hatch (or at an agreed upon time). Just be aware that school hatch rates may not be up to the rates that you hatch in your own incubators.

    As for eggs for her granddaughter, if you ever sell eggs, offer them at the same rate as you would normally sell for, when you have extras to sell. Or if you don;t sell eggs, tell her that.

    You probably need to talk to her in person. My general inclination from what you have said and the quotes you posted would make it likely that I would probably not supply eggs to her, but that is me, based upon that one bad experience several years ago with a pair of irresponsible teachers.

    FWIW, looking at the law as listed above, it appears to contradict itself. In one place it says it applies to "any person, firm or corporation" and in another is says that exempts "growers of living baby chicks,..."
  9. Outrun Acres

    Outrun Acres Songster

    Apr 28, 2012
    Northwest Arkansas
    You are right the law is not good for local businesses. I discussed this new law with an employee at our local Tractor Supply and he said they are having a lot of trouble selling chicks and ducklings this year. It was easy to see that was true, as some of the ducklings in the brooders were quite large. I know it further discouraged me from purchasing any chicks from them. Where did the number six come from? It's such an arbitrary number. Are they just assuming that most families have less than 6 kids, so that was the number chosen to prevent the purchase of Easter chicks and ducklings? I know in most incorporated cities the maximum number of chickens you can own lingers around 4, so this law makes it more difficult for people living within the city limits to purchase chickens. That doesn't seem right to me.

    I believe the majority of people who purchase chickens do so understanding the responsibility involved. There is a much smaller percentage of those who don't, and it is sad that the minority has to ruin things for the majority. But really what does this law change? Now people who live within the city limits are going to be purchasing 6 chicks just to get the 3 or 4 they are allowed to own. What happens to the others they are not allowed to keep? Now we may have 6 chicks being cared for improperly instead of one or two. It is an arbitrary law that in the long run I believe will only inhibit the growth of small businesses and lead to more chicks, ducklings, bunnies, etc. being cared for improperly.

    Thank you Mr. Hall for posting this piece of legislation on BYC. I think it is important that the poultry community in Arkansas is aware of legislation passed that directly affects us. So that we can hopefully change laws like this one or in the future prevent them from being passed. It is not the place of the government to prevent people from purchasing chicks because they believe they my be cared for improperly. It is our job as a community to educate those prospective owners who remain ignorant of the subject. So thank you again Mr. Hall for doing your part as a local 4-H Leader and responsible breeder. That being said, one or two "bad eggs" will always exist, and a government law isn't going to change their actions/behavior.

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