A successful letter

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by AI4KK, May 20, 2010.

  1. AI4KK

    AI4KK New Egg

    May 5, 2010
    Tallahassee recently proposed a new animal control law that would have limited chickens to 4 hens per family and no roosters.

    After the letter was sent, I was contacted with a proposal to not limit hens and to allow 1 rooster per family and was personally invited to the City commission meeting to speak on behalf of animal control in support of urban chickens and again at the press conference.

    Feel free to use parts or the whole or modify as needed, attribution is not needed. I would definitely add to that first paragraph...Lt Doyle and I had already spoken in person and he was on my side regarding the advantage of home chicken-keeping.

    Lt Doyle,

    This is Gene Floyd, we spoke the other night after the meeting. I don’t need to go through all the reasons for why I feel the way I do….you seem quite familiar with the issues of green living, decreased carbon footprint, a desire to eat a healthier diet, reduce food costs, and a reluctance to support the cruelty and chemical dependence of factory-produced meat. I would like to propose a policy that will take into account the fact that not all of us desire to keep chickens as pets or merely as producers of eggs, but want a sustainable flock for meat and eggs.

    After speaking with Leis Kinberg at the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA to use the old acronym that they used to go by meaning “Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas"), and opening a help ticket with their poultry experts, I have some tentative numbers. This may change based on what their experts say, but we have a goal of coming up with a concrete answer to the question of “How many chickens does it take per household member to provide meat and eggs while being sustainable”. From that, perhaps we can come up with a reasonable compromise that takes into account the perceived need to regulate chickens within city limits along with individuals desire to keep chickens as pets, or as a self-sustainable source of eggs or meat.

    According to what you told me last night about the lack of envisioning chickens as a hot-button topic, there may not even be a need for regulation; it sounds like they are simply not that much of an issue. Even if there is an occasional nuisance complaint, it seems like the new teeth being placed in the proposed ordinance for dealing with nuisance animals and their irresponsible owners can be as easily applied to poultry as to any other animals.

    My first recommendation would be to simply maintain the status quo and deal with issues on a case-by-case basis with emphasis on educating the owners if an issue comes up. Different situations will cause different issues, and if nobody is complaining, there is nothing to enforce. Someone who pays attention to detail and works hard or has sufficient facilities (ie room or space) can get by with many more chickens without causing problems to his or her neighbors. Someone with less space can get by with more work, but it is not insurmountable and the same goes for a lazy person on a huge lot. With the new teeth in the law, the rare instances of nuisance chickens should be fairly easy to deal with by treating them the same as any other nuisance animal…including problems caused by them running loose.

    If the need is felt to limit them, here are some of my ideas: Based on an average family size of 4 people and a chicken consumption of twice a week (reasonable I think for someone who is avoiding red meat for health reasons), we are looking at a target consumption of 2 chickens per month per person. With an average chick production of 12 chicks per year per hen, that gives us as needing 2 hens to produce 24 chicks per year.
    Hens lay an average of one egg per day. With an average of 2 eggs per day (no, not always, but sometimes you might have a 3-egg omelet plus giving fresh eggs to the neighbors goes a long way toward keeping them happy) that requires 2 more hens per person. Leis suggested 8 hens per person to make up for attrition; I think 6 adult hens per person would be a good compromise with no limit on chicks less than 3 months old. I do not think that it would be possible to have a sustainable flock that supplies a reasonable amount of meat and eggs with fewer than 4 adult hens per household member and of course it would not be sustainable without a rooster. I see no problem with limiting roosters to 1 per family and treating it like any other animal capable of causing a nuisance.

    It has also been mentioned by ATTRA that the book “City Chicks” suggest no more than 1 chicken per 6 sq ft and that the animal welfare absolute standard is 6lbs/sq ft. Perhaps these standards could be codified as the ultimate limit regardless of how many people live in a house. I would also specify that chickens not be allowed to free-roam off the owner’s property (just like dogs) and that they not be allowed closer than 25’ to neighboring residences.

    This is if the need to regulate them is felt…as stated, based on your statements regarding the rarity of nuisance chicken calls and the new enforcement mechanisms proposed, I really don’t think you need any of this. Education and the threat of losing the privilege to keep animals should go a long way toward encouraging compliance…just like with dogs, cats, and other potential nuisance animals.

    You mentioned the possibility of folks keeping chickens in townhomes and apartments. To the best of my knowledge, those are almost always governed by some sort of HOA or a landlord. Given how much flak my ham radio buddies catch from trying to put up antennas, I can’t imagine that keeping chickens is that much of an issue in a place like that, and if so, is one that the people in charge of that place can handle at their level.I look forward to hearing back from you.

    Gene Floyd
    [email protected]
    Last edited: May 20, 2010
  2. calista

    calista Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 27, 2010
    What a thoughtful and complete analysis! As a trained technical writer and marketing major, you get my vote for MAKING YOUR CASE! I was especially impressed with how non-confrontational and sensible the whole tone of the letter was.

    It speaks well of you that you are offering it as a guideline for folks who are dealing with the "eeyew, chickens are SMELLY" sort of knee-jerk response the issue of allowing backyard chickens for sustainability purposes usually gets in an urban area. Thanks for posting it. [​IMG]

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