Concerned Neighbor

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by moopey, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. moopey

    moopey New Egg

    Apr 21, 2012
    Hi all. I joined this forum to educate myself on chicken coupes, not for myself, but to possibly confront my neighbors about their very large coupe.

    First off, I have no problem with them having chickens from a noise standpoint. I bought the house diagonally behind them about 3 years ago and they had chickens when I moved in. The noise was a little annoying but my wife and I got used to it. Now in the 3 years we've been here their coupe has probably doubled in size. I'd say it's now about 10'x20' if not more and they now have chickens, pigeons, possibly a turkey and every once and a while a rooster. The rooster doesn't seem to be there all the time.

    My only complaint about the large coupe is now the smell. I started to notice middle of last summer. Whenever it rained or got humid the odor would be fairly strong. At one point we had a large cookout in our backyard and the smell was all our guests would talk about. It was very embarrassing.

    I live in the city of Taunton, MA. It's a large city, but the area I live in is all single family homes in a big loop. We all have about a 1/2 acre of land. My neighbors coupe is located where the corner of property lines meet. My town also doesn't seem to have any solid rules regarding fowl as far as how many you can have. They only state that noisy roosters are not allowed. There is also rules from the zoning board as far as distances from neighboring properties.

    It's only mid april and it rained last night and I can already smell the coupe while doing yard work this morning.

    Speaking to all of you as chicken owners, I'd like to know the best way to approach this problem. I have not talked to my neighbors since they live behind me on a different road. I'm not expecting them to get rid of the chickens, but I really don't want to smell them while enjoying my back deck drinking morning coffee. I also don't want to start a war with my neighbors.

    I called the zoning board and board of health last year and to my knowledge nothing came of it.

    Can it be difficult to clean and maintain a coupe the size of theirs? I have no idea if and or how they dispose of any waste. Judging by the smell already coming from their yard, I wouldn't be surprised if they don't.

    I should also state that I think there may be a language barrier when dealing with the neighbors, which is another reason why I am hesitant to approach them. Or should I not approach them at all to avoid conflict and deal with the city only?

    In closing, I'm not here to start a war on the boards. I admit I have no need or want to raise chickens, but that doesn't mean I think nobody should be allowed to. I'm just looking for opinions on how to proceed. Thank you all.
  2. kellysmall87

    kellysmall87 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a small coup to house three chickens. And that smells if I don't clean it weekly with soapy water and change ALL of the sawdust. I would imagine that your neighbours can't keep up with the hygiene aspect of the coup with all those birds in there.

    And you can't be expected to live with the smell. As I know, It is a foul smell especially in summer.

    1. Approach your neighbour about the smell. Say that you have always been understanding about the coup and the birds but the smell is overpowering.

    2. write them an anonymous letter stating your concerns?

    3. report them to the environmental heath or RSPCA or whatever animal protection/environmental protection again.

    Or find another neighbour feeling the same as you do and both go around to the house to have a conversation about it. State that you love the fact they have birds but you have guests come round who notice the smell and it's embarrassing.

    This is a tricky one but to solve it you need to approach them somehow...

  3. Sunnysimplelife

    Sunnysimplelife Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2012
    My Coop
    As a new chicken owner on a small city lot, the last thing I want is to upset my neighbors. I don't want to smell anything and I certainly don't want them to. I plan on keeping a very clean coop. Have you ever spoke to them?
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I wish more neighbors were like you!

    I looked up the Taunton city ordinances to see what I could find to help you out and found this:

    5. The Taunton Board of Health shall have the power to remove, or cause to be
    removed, any such animal or fowl, from any place in the City, where said Board
    may deem such keeping or boarding detrimental to the health, safety and welfare
    of the neighborhood of the those passing by.
    6. All animals and fowl regulated under these sections shall be registered with the
    Taunton Board of Health annually by June 1st of each year. A copy to be provided
    to the City Animal Control Officer.
    7. All owners of animals shall provide the Taunton Board of Health at the time of
    registration, certification of all inspections and vaccinations by a Massachusetts
    Licensed Veterinarian as may be required by Massachusetts State Law,
    regulations and/or local Board of Health regulations.
    8. All encampments such as barns, stables, sheds, coops, fenced pastures or exercise
    areas, and pens shall be at least ten (10’) feet setback from property lines (Zoning
    Ordinances may be more restrictive and shall govern in all cases) and at least
    three hundred (300’) feet from any dwelling.
    9. The storage of animal and/or fowl feed shall be in metal containers with tight
    fitting lids and stored at least two (2’) feet off the ground in an enclosed structure
    which shall be rodent and vermin proof in construction.
    10. All animals and/ or fowl shall be provided with a sheltered structure such as a
    barn, stable, shed and/or coop which will provide shelter from adverse weather,
    provide security to the animals and birds and shall be rodent and vermin proof in
    construction, and shall be of sufficient area to accommodate the animal heard or
    fowl flock. Small fowl coops shall be at least two (2’) feet above ground. “Leanto”
    sheds are not acceptable.
    11. All animals and fowl shall be provided with an enclosed and secured grazing or
    exercise area, (density and area requirements listed under other sections below).
    Fowl pens shall be screened top and sides.
    12. All animals and fowl shall be provided with adequate shade within their pens,
    grazing, or exercising areas to accommodate the size of the heard or flock.
    13. All animals and fowl shall be provided with adequate potable water within their
    pens, grazing, or exercising areas.
    17. All animal and fowl wastes (manure) shall be disposed of offsite as needed or at
    least once a week. In the summer months from June through September the
    Board of Health may require an accelerated disposal schedule.
    18. No temporary animal and fowl waste (manure) pile shall be left exposed, but all
    wastes shall be placed in plastic bags and stored in covered receptacles.
    24. Violators of these provisions shall be subject to the following fines: First offense
    $25.00; second offense $50.00; third offense $150.00. Violators may be subject
    to prosecution in District Court.
    26. The authority to enforce these regulations shall be vested in the agents of the
    Board of Health and the City of Taunton Police Department, and the Taunton
    Animal Control Officer.
    27. These regulations shall be further enforceable in any court of the commonwealth
    of Massachusetts having jurisdiction under authority and penalties contained in
    M. G. L. Chapter 111.

    That's a lot of reading so I tried to take out the numbered paragraphs that did not pertain to fowl or your situation. I'm surprised there is no mention of the number of animals allowed to be kept on certain size lots (the above info is for anyone with less than 5 acres). It looks to me like there are a few points you can look into. Since fowl waste is specifically addressed (and states must be disposed of at least once a week), you may have a legitimate complaint there.

    I understand about the language barrier, but probably the best thing would be to go around and try to talk to them. If they are maintaining a living here in the States, there must be someone in the household with good enough language skills to get by. Explain that you don't want to be difficult, but the smell is unbearable at times - they may not be aware that it drifts towards your house. Give them a copy of the ordinance (PM me if you need to, and I will forward you the PDF). If they blow you off or don't do anything to improve conditions for you, it looks like the Board of Health and the City of Taunton Police Department, along with the AC Officer are all responsible for following up.

    Good luck!
  5. Kittyf

    Kittyf Chillin' With My Peeps

    If the smell is bad, they need better coop hygeine, and so do the chickens and other critters in their care. We use a little SweetPDZ and it really knocks out odors around our coop and doesn't hurt the chickens or other pets.

    1 person likes this.
  6. lincolnsilkies

    lincolnsilkies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 27, 2011
    Lincoln Nebraska
    I think it is always best to try to solve a problem with the neighbor buy trying to talk to them about the problem. Because not making an effort to do so and instead calling the city or whatever is bound to just cause more problems with your neighbors jmo
  7. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 30, 2011
    Springfield, Ohio
    Permitted or not, folk who keep chickens must also abide by the "nuisance" portions of the local health regulations. You mentioned a possible language barrier, and I would try to first determine if this is the case, then try to communicate your concerns. If there are kids in the house, they could act as translators when you go to talk to the adults. Having been foreign myself once upon a time, I can say that a willingness to patiently communicate on your part can go a long way. Bring a small gift of food with you when you go over to demonstrate your willingness to talk. This will speak volumes.
  8. egghead@1265

    [email protected] Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 24, 2011
    Wow, that Stinks that it stinks! So sorry about that! I am hoping that what you refer to is more the exception than the rule, so to speak, as there is no reason to have such a strong smell! In knowing others who have chickens, and in keeping a few ourselves, find that MOST keepers of chickens are quite conscientious and caring towards their birds and smell is of least concern with them. Most of the owners I know and have been in contact with, treat them as pets and sometimes get as good of treatment as some of the family members! As many people who keep chickens are doing so because of the desire to have organic food and/or to know where their food is coming from, actually take MUCH better care than the large farms do, and also reuse much of the waste making it MUCH better for the environment and gardens! Often with composting of chicken waste, gardening, and such...well,, the outcome is so much better on the sewer/septic systems, plus extra chemicals aren't needed for fertilizer and such, as if it was necessary to purchase chemical fertilizers for gardens. 4-6 hens make about the same amount of waste that one dog makes, and dog waste is WASTE, which the chickens can be safely reused with composting!

    See some of the links below, though sorry your neighbor isn't thinking of the GREAT benefits he/she/they could be getting for all of this POOP! Maybe they aren't aware of the valuable resource beyond the Eggs!?
    Good luck!

    Smell & Waste Concerns of Poultry keeping

    The Real Bounty of The Coop (Hint: It’s Not Eggs) from Chickens
    Chicken waste when composted makes great fertilizer!
    For instance-4 Chickens make less waste than one Dog!

    Many sites explaining how to use the small amount of chicken waste and turn it into valuable garden fertilizer.

    Myth 3. Waste and Odor.
    Fact: a 40 pound dog generates more solid waste then 10 chickens. To be more specific, one 40 pound dog generates about ¾ pounds (.75 pounds) of poo every day. Ten chickens generate about two-thirds pounds (.66 pounds) daily poop.
  9. Smelly Chickens

    Smelly Chickens New Egg

    Sep 23, 2012
    @ Concerned Neighbor. You are not alone. I too live in America's Finest City, This past May, 2012, the city passed and ordinance that states a city dweller can now own up to 5 chickens. My Hippie Dippy neighbors who share a common wall condo with me, decided they would start buying chickens to have their own fresh eggs. Our back yards are 50' by 50'. Very small.
    It's unfortunate that I live downwind, east of them, close to the ocean and sea breezes blow every day and bring their stinky chicken smell with them.
    It has been a terrible summer. I've not been able to go out my back door and it's unfortunate that my kitchen sits at the back of the house so I have to keep all windows closed and the back door shut or their smell circulates through the house.
    It's really horrible.
    I have spoken to them about the smell. I invited them over to smell my yard. They were shocked! They agreed that there was an awful smell. They were so sorry. They said they never notice the smell of their chickens at all. (I can see why, they live upwind from the smell).
    They have promised to put down cedar chips, coffee grinds and feed their chickens garlic and rosemary but so far the smell still knocks me off my feet. I've been burning sage, incense and candles but nothing helps.
    Now comes the topper on the cake. My cat has just been diagnosed with Criptococcus. After a couple of weeks of the cat sneezing and snorting, I took him to the vet. $1,200.00 later we discovered what he has. An air born fungus that comes from, CHICKENS. It also comes from pigeons but there are no pigeons here. He does not go into their yard but does crouch close to the fence so he can watch them. He also travels the alley way where the neighbors spread the chicken manure out to dry. I guess they wish to use it in their garden.
    The cat has been here for 5 years, the chickens 5 months. Cat has been sick for 3 months....Duhhhh! CHICKENS made him sick.
    The cat is now on a long, arduous treatment of anti fungal drugs for 6 months with another 200.00 blood test due this coming December.
    I spoke with the neighbors about my sick cat. They shrugged their shoulders at me. I even contacted the city's department of public health because of the flies and stench and about my sick cat. This fungus can also be contracted by humans. The city does not care. Forget the city.
    My point! You can talk to your neighbors until you turn blue. It will probably do you no good at all. They love their chickens, don't have to smell their stench and the only thing you or I can do is MOVE.
    Anyone who lives in the city who thinks owning chickens is a good thing is selfish and self-centered and doesn't care about their neighbors. Sad but true.
  10. erinszoo

    erinszoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2011
    North Central Oklahoma
    Just a note ... cryptococcus only comes from wild birds, not domesticated fowl. And the cat would have to eat the poo or drink water with poo in it to get the disease. Keep fresh water out for your cats in a covered location ... or better yet, keep your cat inside where it can't kill wild birds (or the neighbors chickens) and eat them.

    My suggestion, instead of complaining and whining about the "smell" of chickens owned by people you don't know and haven't befriended in any way, is
    first - establish a friendly relationship with these people. If you confront them, they are going to be resistant to doing anything to help you out if they don't know you. In other words don't be crappy neighbors while expecting them to be "not" crappy neighbors.
    second - ask how they go about cleaning their coop, maybe they are having the same issues as you and don't know how to solve the problem
    third - remember, all animals have some "smell" associated with them. While it shouldn't be bad all the time, there will be days when it smells. I guarantee our chickens don't smell near as bad as our neighbors dog.
    fourth - perhaps they don't know everything there is available to help them with the smell and therefore don't use it, like sweet pdz and vanilla car fresheners (make them a present of some saying you heard they were things that helped with chicken keeping so you thought you'd help out - again good neighbors make good neighbors)
    fifth - when it has been raining or is very hot and humid it can be almost impossible to keep the smell down or keep the coop cleaned properly - imagine trying to muck out muck in the rain and muck. So if it's been raining for week on end or has rained several inches at one time, give them some time to catch up.
    sixth - if you garden, ask if you can have some of the bedding from their coop to use in your compost pile ... you'll help them keep cleaned up and benefit from great compost for your gardening
    1 person likes this.

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