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Help addressing city council questions

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by aschwein, Mar 14, 2015.

  1. aschwein

    aschwein Hatching

    Jun 26, 2012
    We are working to change the ordinance in Vermillion, SD to allow chickens. Members of the city council have two main concerns: (1) that chickens will attract predators, especially along the bluff, and (2) that you can't tell if a chick is a hen or rooster. Ideas on how to address these concerns? Is there evidence that chickens are no more likely than any other animal to attract predators? Our bluff is a line between town and farmland. There are small mammals, wild turkeys, pheasants, and such along there. The homeowners at the top of the bluff own cats and dogs already. With regard to the second concern, someone could be out of compliance with the ordinance allowing only hens and not know it. Plus, what do they do with the roosters they can't have, but purchased without knowing?

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Will chickens attract predators? Kinda sorta. You already have predators. They are currently eating cats, song birds, mice, rats, and other animals that live in conjunction with civilization. Especially they are eating garbage. Will chickens bring in other predators from out of town? Not really but they are another potential target. In town, dogs are probably the biggest threat to chickens. Not wild feral dogs but Barfy from next door.

    One thing chickens will attract is vermin, specifically mice and to a much lesser extent rats. They are not drawn to the chickens, they are drawn to the chicken feed. You can take steps like storing the feed in metal containers, metal garbage cans are real popular, and you can remove the feed at night when the chickens are sleeping, but enough gets spilled that mice will be attracted. Every town has mice. That’s just a fact of life. If they have a good place to hide and a steady food supply they will congregate. They could even have a population explosion with a safe nesting place and a real steady food supply. Your city health department is already battling rats at the dump and mice at restaurants, grocery stores, and hotels so they may be reluctant to endorse another potential problem area. If I were working in the health department I could understand that. I suggest you be prepared for this by having a list of steps ready to handle this problem for keeping urban chickens. A possible resource to find this help is maybe your county extension agent or possibly a professor at your state land grant university in agriculture. That’s probably who your county extension agent will hook you up with anyway. Hopefully you will get someone who understands this is a limited flock of hens in an urban back yard, not a commercial operation. Some extension agents and some professors are better than others. To me this is a legitimate area of concern and something needs to be put in the rules to handle it.

    The problem with roosters. Oh, yes, this is a hang-up. Some chickens are sexable at hatch, the sex links. There is no doubt with those you are getting a pullet. But sex links are not a breed, they are a cross, and they pretty limited as to availability. Some people would just rather have specific breeds. Hatcheries use specially trained people to vent sex chicks. They look in the vent and make a guess as to sex based on what they see. Most hatcheries will guarantee 90% success rate with this method. As you can quickly figure out, it’s not perfect. Very few people will even try to vent sex a bantam, they are so small it’s really difficult. One way to get around it is to only get POL (point of lay) pullets, about when they are 16 weeks old. By that age it’s pretty obvious that they are a pullet.

    Unless you stick with point of lay pullets, it’s going to be pretty impossible to guarantee that some chicks will not be male. Different people will have different objections to roosters, but the big one in an urban setting is noise. Roosters can crow at any time, day or night, and that sound can carry a long way. Many people like that sound but to many it is tremendously annoying. It doesn’t matter that a barking dog is louder and more annoying to you, others are going to object to a rooster crowing.

    So how do you handle roosters? That’s not easy. The rules could just ban them and go no further. If people get a rooster they have to get rid of it. You can maybe check with other cities that allow hens but no roosters and see how they address it. I have not done the research to see how they phrase it. If you have the interest maybe you can do some research and maybe copy some of that language.

    One area of concern. How do people get rid of roosters? Some cities do not allow butchering inside city limits. A common remedy is that people drop them off at the animal shelter. Some people decide they don’t like hens either and drop them off. That creates problems for the animal shelter. What do they do with the chickens, especially in a “no-kill” shelter? I’d think most hens would be rehomed pretty fast but the cockerels and roosters? In a small town this is probably not much of a concern but in a larger city the numbers could add up. This is an area you might get some resistance to allowing chickens, the people at the shelter, you might want to have a response ready even if you’re not the one to bring it up. People like to think that their actions don’t have consequences for others, but they often do.

    I know this is coming across as discouraging. I really don’t think the attracting more predators is legitimate. I think you already have lots, even if most people don’t realize it, and chicken swill not bring in any more. The mouse problem is a potential problem, but require mouse proof storage for feed and you will probably be OK. The rooster problem, well a whole lot of cities across the country deal with it and allow hens in the back yard. Find out who in your area allow chickens and see how they address it.

    What you want to do can be done and has been done many times. I don’t know if you can find someone for free but if you can find an “expert” to come to a council meeting and answer questions you might be better off. An expert is someone from out of town that others think they know what they are talking about. Maybe that university professor maybe find out who is involved in showing chickens in your area and see if they will help you out. They may be a loose cannon but they may also have some expertise and really help you out.

    Good luck!
  3. Riverdale

    Riverdale Songster

    Apr 20, 2008
    Riverdale, MI
    Well since any predator that would be after a chicken would be snout deep in a garbage can, I guess I would present that part that way, with a smile of course!!

    Since you do not need a rooster in a flock for the hens to lay eggs, and I was keen upon keeping chickens, I (personally) may go as far as either
    1) purchasing sexed birds for pullets
    2) signing a 'compact' that I would get rid of any and all roosters (after they start crowing)
  4. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Songster

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    RidgeRunner and Riverdale make good points addressing the pred concerns.
    If you live in the city limits and are allowed to own a few hens that will be great! I wouldn't jeopardize your potentialy new found freedom by wanting to keep loud marauding useless roosters, which are not necessary for the production of a few fresh eggs.

    You need to steer the focus away from identifying a chick as a male and work on adopting wording that states "no roosters" or "no mature roosters" or words to that effect. Animal Control or Code Enforcement Officers aren't concerned with male chicks simply because they're male. When AC or CEO get a complaint the first thing they do is sneak around the neighborhood listening for crowing. The wording should clearly indicate that the intent of the law is to prohibit mature crowing roosters.

    It would probably be wise to include something about chickens shall be kept confined to owner's property and coop must be maintained in a sanitary manner, otherwise you'll have some idiot with 70 chickens on an unfenced 100x100 lot covering the neighborhood in 3' of poop and a swarm of flies.

    As far as getting rid of unwanted young roosters, I hatch out about 40 roosters each year and in the last 3 years I have been able to give away exactly........2 roosters. 1 to a guy on craigslist that wanted a pet rooster and 1 to a farmer who's own rooster was killed by dogs. Mr. Hatchet takes care of my unwanted roosters.
    Good luck, hope it works out!

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