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how do i argue against "potential negative public health impacts"

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by joan1708, May 17, 2011.

  1. joan1708

    joan1708 Songster

    May 14, 2011
    DFW - mid cities, Tx
    Hi all,
    I'm trying to change a city ordinance to keep chickens and need ideas. Grand Prairie, TX does not allow chickens within 150 ft of another residence which effectively bans chickens. I wrote to my city representative, Mr Hepworth (see below) and received a reply from the environmental services director, Jim Cummings, (see below) who sites "potential negative public health impacts" as the reason for not changing the law. I have been calling other city to see if there has been a "negative health impact" but people are reluctant to speak candidly. Are they any recommendations on how I should proceed?

    Thanks, Joan Smith

    (my email to Mr Hepworth)

    Dear Mr Hepworth,

    The "going green" banter on the city web page does not line up with Grand Prairies' city ordinances for keeping chickens. The ordinance states a coop can not be within 150 ft of another residence. Grand Prairie's restrictions make it impossible for most residents to legally keep chickens. Keeping chickens is part of a more sustainable "green" lifestyle along with vegetable gardening, composting, water conservation and rain harvesting. I went to the "peep at the coops" in Dallas a few weeks ago and saw beautiful backyard gardens and well-kept chickens and coops. (It was actually rained out but the residents still allowed people to visit. It is rescheduled for May 22- you could go take a look!).

    Grand Prairie has the second most restrictive ordinances in the metroplex that I can see.

    My review of city ordinances shows

    Dallas- no roosters
    Ft Worth - can not sell < 5 chickens or dye them
    Duncanville - no coop within 30 ft of another residence. nothing about roosters
    Southlake - no more than 6 total chickens or rabbits. no distance limitation
    Hurst - no coop within 50 ft.
    Euless - no restrictions that I can see.
    Irving - no restrictions
    Grapevine - no coop with in 50 ft of another residence
    Only Arlington has a more restrictive ordinance. They prohibit fowl completely.

    Sooooo, I Have to Ask - Is this an outdated ordinance or is "Grand Prairie going green" just LIP SERVICE?

    Thank you for your time.

    Joan Smith

    Reply from Mr. Cummings

    Ms. Smith

    Several years ago, the City Council’s Public Safety, Health & Environment Subcommittee discussed the pros and cons of revising the City’s animal control ordinance provisions concerning the keeping of fowl. Due to the potential negative public health impacts, a decision was made not to proceed with any changes to the current restrictions. Additionally, most residential neighborhoods within the City are covered by deed restrictions that contain additional prohibitions on the keeping of fowl. Please contact me at 972/237-8058 if you have any questions concerning this matter.

    James R. Cummings
    James R. Cummings
    Environmental Services Director
    City of Grand Prairie
    P.O. Box 534045
    Grand Prairie , Texas 75053-4045

  2. Invictus

    Invictus Hatching

    Aug 31, 2010
    sw PA
    there should be a law that prohibits James R. Cummings et al, from ever eating eats or chickens
  3. CopperCT

    CopperCT Chirping

    Jan 12, 2011
    " Public Health impacts"...does that mean avian flu? I'm pasting in some excerpts from another post on here from 2008 titled their "Chicken Manifesto". I hope it helps. I sent alot of this to my town as evidence that chickens are not "dangerous" in a back yard setting. If you look it up by Chicken Manifesto you should be able to find the full text of it...it's very well done. Good luck.

    Backyard Chickens Are Not Farm Animals
    For thousands of years, chickens, like dogs and cats, have lived alongside people in backyards large and small in cities and small towns. Unlike a half‐ton bull or 400‐ pound hog, a six‐pound hen is not inherently a farm animal.
    The typical laying hen starts to produce at four to six months, lays nearly daily until
    she is 6, and then lives another two years. A crucial point is that for backyard
    chickens (unlike their counterparts on farms), the end of productivity does not bring
    on the end of life. Commercial chickens are bred to produce large numbers of eggs
    very quickly and then to be culled and used for such things as animal food and
    fertilizer. Suburban hens, however, are treated as individuals. They are typically
    named, and when around age 6 they stop producing eggs, they are ‘retired’ and
    treated as pets for the remaining year or two of their lives.
    Chickens are friendly, social, intelligent, affectionate, entertaining, low‐maintenance,
    small, quiet, and inexpensive to keep. They are quieter and cleaner than most dogs.
    They uniquely offer suburban and city‐dwelling children the opportunity to
    understand a little more clearly where their food comes from. And they offer all of
    us the opportunity to produce a little of our own food.

    Backyard Coops are Attractive and Clean
    Unlike large commercial poultry operations or rural farms, people in cities and
    suburbs who keep chickens in their backyards tend to keep them in attractive, well‐
    maintained enclosures and treat their chickens as pets. Backyard coops are no more
    of an inherent eyesore than a trampoline, play structure, or hot tub, and in fact many
    are portable so that the chickens are never in one place long. Appendix B contains
    examples of backyard coops on suburban and city lots.

    Chickens Are Not a Nuisance
    Chickens Are Not Smelly
    Chickens themselves do not smell. Any possible odor would come from their
    droppings, but 5 hens generate less manure than one medium‐sized dog. The
    average chicken keeper is also a gardener, and (unlike the feces of dogs and cats,
    which carry pathogens and can’t be composted) chicken droppings represent an
    excellent source of free organic fertilizer when composted. Unsanitary conditions
    can result in a buildup of ammonia in large‐scale operations, which is why
    commercial poultry facilities often smell. This is not the case for small backyard

    Chickens are Not Messy
    Chicken enclosures used in city and urban settings tend to be attractive and are
    easily maintained. Small flocks are managed with a minimum of time and energy on
    the part of their owners.

    Chickens Are Not Noisy
    Hens are quiet birds. It’s only roosters that are known for loud morning crowing,
    and roosters are not necessary for the production of eggs. The occasional clucking
    of hens is generally not audible beyond 25 feet. Some hens give a few squawks
    while actually laying an egg or bragging about it afterward, but this noise is very
    short‐lived and much quieter than barking dogs, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, passing
    trucks, children playing, and other common neighborhood sounds.
    CFM’s Proposed Ordinance requires that chickens be maintained in a manner free
    from excessive noise and that chickens and enclosures be kept 15 feet from the
    property lines, a distance at which most normal chicken noises are barely audible.

    Chickens Do Not Attract Predators to the Area
    Chickens, if left unprotected, are vulnerable to predators. But as the predators of
    chickens are the same as those of the wild rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, small birds,
    and other local wild prey animals already present in our community, they do not
    themselves attract predators to the area. Because chickens are penned up in the
    backyard (unlike wild rabbits, for instance, which hide from predators in tall grass,
    brush and shrubbery), the predators may be seen more often. Coyotes, for instance,
    are seen more often when they take a cat or small dog than when they take a rabbit.
    But the presence of chickens does not attract predators to the area; predators are
    already here.

    Chickens Do Not Pose a Public Health Risk
    The type of Avian Influenza that is contagious to humans has not been found in
    North America. Bird Flu is spread by contact with the contaminated feces of wild
    migratory waterfowl. So the key issues are sanitation and contact with wild birds.
    Unlike rural farm birds which might co‐mingle with migratory birds or drink from a
    shared pond, backyard chickens are contained in an enclosure and watered inside
    this enclosure.

    As reported in Newsweek Magazine
    …as the Washington‐based Worldwatch Institute (an environmental research
    group) pointed out in a report last month, experts including the Pew
    Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production have said that if we do
    see it, it'll be more likely to be found in factory‐farmed poultry than backyard
    chickens. As GRAIN, an international sustainable agriculture group,
    concluded in a 2006 report: "When it comes to bird flu, diverse small‐scale
    poultry farming is the solution, not the problem."
    Unlike cats and dogs which are prime vectors for rabies, parasites, and tick‐borne
    diseases, backyard chickens actually keep your yard healthier for humans by eating
    ticks and other insects.

    Salmonella, which has been associated with raw eggs, is a problem with factory‐
    farmed eggs, not with backyard chickens.

    Chickens and the Environment
    Water Quality and Runoff
    According to the OSU Extension Service (http://ohioline.osu.edu/b804/804_3.html) the average laying hen produces .2 ‐ .3 pound of droppings per day, as compared to the average dog which produces 1 pound (according to the National Pet Alliance.)

    Unlike dog and cat waste, chicken droppings can be composted for use on gardens
    and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. Chickens reduce the need for
    pesticides and herbicides by eating bugs and weeds. By their very presence,
    chickens discourage the use of chemical lawn and garden sprays by their owners.
    Chicken keeping is likely to represent a net improvement in water and runoff issues
    rather than the opposite.
    Issues of manure runoff from egg‐producing chickens are associated with huge
    factory‐style egg farms that generate tons of manure each day in a very
    concentrated area. For those of us who wish to continue to eat eggs in a sustainable
    fashion, low‐density backyard chicken keeping is the solution to runoff issues, not
    the problem. Gardeners using commercial organic fertilizers are very likely to be
    using chicken‐manure based products, and those keeping chickens will have less
    need for even these. So keeping chickens won’t increase even the net amount of
    organic fertilizers used; chicken‐keeping gardeners will simply be producing it
    themselves rather than purchasing it.
  4. joan1708

    joan1708 Songster

    May 14, 2011
    DFW - mid cities, Tx
    Thank you for the info. I sent it along to the city. I went to the center for disease control website and looked up chickens. Their concern was samonella. There was an outbreak from hatcheries in 2007 and ~63 cases were reported. most of the risk is to young children. It goes on to say samonella is a risk for contact with frogs and live fish also. I called the county of Dallas to see if they had realized any problems and they said they had but would not be very specific. The manager is seemed very annoyed and guarded in his words.
  5. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

    Jun 11, 2010
    York PA
    I believe Mr. Cummings needs to go into detail about what the "public health concerns" are. I would keep pushing him to specifically state what the potential risks to the public are. If he states salmonella, I would do some research into what caused the outbreak in the production hen houses and give him the facts.
  6. mountanaman

    mountanaman In the Brooder

    Feb 28, 2011
    "Additionally, most residential neighborhoods within the City are covered by deed restrictions that contain additional prohibitions on the keeping of fowl."

    i have never heard of this. you should look at your deed to see if this is the case for you. if so, you might be SOL (regardless of the city's position).
  7. joan1708

    joan1708 Songster

    May 14, 2011
    DFW - mid cities, Tx
    Yes. I have an HOA that restricts chickens. so, I'm working taht angle too. It's looking pretty bleak out here! I figure there has got to be others around here who are working on this. I just have to find them.

  8. MI-CHick

    MI-CHick In the Brooder

    Aug 5, 2010
    I would ask for more specifics. Most arguments against backyard chickens are based on issues that arise with factory chicken conditions. Just like you need to properly take care of your cats and dogs, you need to properly take care of your chickens.
  9. Player Hater

    Player Hater Songster

    Feb 8, 2010
    how ignorant

    battery farms are such a bigger threat to public health than small flocks in people's yards


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