Neighbor came over yesterday to talk to us about our chickens., need some advice

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by mamasky, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. mamasky

    mamasky Out Of The Brooder

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    We've lived here just over a year. We're on 2.6.... acres zoned Woodland Conservation and Rural Farming, back up to a dairy farm on 2 sides of our property. There's barn cats every where, a few neighbors have chickens. I sometimes see them along the road, nobody has ever had problems. in fact, our neighbors apparently used to have goats.
    Anyways, in May we got 6 hens. They lived in our upstairs bathroom until they were big enough to go outside and since maybe July, we've been letting them out. The other day I caught them up in our neighbors yard. He had just mowed/picked up leaves and they were in the back corner of his property digging in the leaf pile. I got them back down and put them away. I know they're bigger and expanding their territory and I've been letting them out less often and later in the day so they don't wander as far.
    We also were given 4 Muscovy ducks almost 3 months ago and they are only temporary residents (IYKWIM).
    So, the neighbor came over yesterday, asked both me and my bf to come outside to talk. Says this week the chickens have been up in his yard and he doesn't mind them on the lower part but they were in his mulch and he's not ok with that. I get it. I wouldn't want someone elses animals digging up my mulch either. Then he starts talking about how we only have 1.5 acre and he's seen my chickens down on the next road (which is 1/4 mile away and I can promise, they weren't mine) and then says he doesn't want to start headaches because we'll get fined if the codes people come out and we're only allowed to have 4 birds. It was really a "read between the lines" talk that he had already talked to someone and I'm half expecting someone to come out here now.
    This is what I was able to find online reguarding the codes http://elibrary.pacounties.org/Documents/Berks_County/303; Alsace Township/4201102120mzo.pdf
    Am I really reading this right that under 3 acres we're only allowed to have 4 birds when we're zoned agricultural??? Really?
    We're in a farming town, everyone farms. My neighbor 2 houses down has 8 birds and I know another family has 5 or 6. We're in a small "development" but it's 19 houses all with 1-3 acres on a dead end road. It's not like the new cookie cutter developments. People have tractors, burn piles, ponds, etc in their yards.
    Our township (Alsace) doesn't actually have a code enforcement person because I called before we moved here to make sure we could have chickens. They hire a company in another town to handle the zoning and codes.
    My chickens, as much as I hate to do this, will be kept in their run only until we can figure out a way to let them be out again. They rarely ventured into his unused yard where he said he doesn't mind them being and were almost always in our front garden beds, down in our woods, and around the house.
    If it's true that we're only allowed 4 birds, how can I go about approaching the township about getting it changed? I find it mind blowing that we'd be able to have a kennel of outside dogs with no problems and yet a few birds can get us fined.
     
  2. MaddiesMum

    MaddiesMum Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree, the laws are ridiculous. Fortunately most are only on complaint basis so as long as there are no complaints to the town you should be good. In the mean time there are non-electric movable chicken fences you can get, that way the birds won't be able to destroy a section of your property. I really hope there is a way to let them free range without crossing into other people's yards!
     
  3. mamasky

    mamasky Out Of The Brooder

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    I hope to be able to find a way to let them enjoy bugs and grass too. We had already talked about putting up a fence along the property line because the wife (the first time I've ever talked to her) screamed at me when our dog wandered up and sat in her yard. We had just started letting him off leash here and training him where to go. The husband has always been nice to us and the kids but yesterday he seemed like a totally different person.
    And I get it, I totally do. I wouldn't want someones animals digging up my mulch (then again, I don't mulch and landscape to have it be pretty and I would totally love having animals in my yard). I guess when you grow up on a farm, you don't worry so much about stuff like that.
    Wouldn't my chickens just fly over a moveable pen or do they make them with covers?
     
  4. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    . I detest other people's animals in my yard, can't really blame him if its first dog then chickens. Wearing the old friendship out there.

    That said what are your fencing laws? Over here both neighbours have to contribute if one wants to build a boundary fence. Perhaps look into that in case you can recoup some of the cost of the fence that really does need installing.
     
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  5. mamasky

    mamasky Out Of The Brooder

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    Like I said, I completely understand him not wanting animals in their yard. The dog has not been up there since that one time in March and the chickens I've caught up there twice this week, not like it's an ongoing problem and the chickens are now confined their run until I can figure out what to do. I guess growing up on farm, I'm used to animals wandering and it doesn't bother me.
    But, my question was more about if I was reading the code right that I can't have more than 4 birds (total, of each kind?) and if so, how to I go about trying to change that?
     
  6. Sjisty

    Sjisty Scribe of Brahmalot

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    I don't know how to change a code or ordinance, but if you put up a fence, maybe the neighbor won't complain and then it won't become an issue. Fences make good neighbors!
     
  7. mamasky

    mamasky Out Of The Brooder

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    I know...we'll likely have to put up a fence. We can't fence the whole property though because 1: we can't afford to and 2: the logistics of fencing an odd shaped, mountain slanted, partially wooded lot is mind boggling. And I hate fences...hate hate hate them. We moved from a suburbia hell where everyone fenced in their .20 acre lot and nobody talked to each other because that is not what we wanted. We have beautiful views of the sunrise and the mountains and putting a fence up would cut a lot of that off but it might give us some piece of mind from the neighbor and the chickens likely wouldn't hop it if it were tall. And it would keep his rotten apples from rolling into my yard. lol. But it would just be along the dividing property line between his and mine and behind us there's a corn field and a natural rock wall property divider that we wouldn't be able to fence over.
    Not really something we had in our budget since we're working on fixing up the house but it might have to jump to the front of the line.
    We do have plans on moving the chickens down into the more wooded area once we clean it out. We've got what used to be a clear cut area about 3/4 acre that we need to clear overgrowth and dead trees from where our gardening area will be and we were going to move the chickens down there too.
     
  8. Sjisty

    Sjisty Scribe of Brahmalot

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    I know where you're coming from. We are also working on fixing up our house, which is an older 2-story house with some major issues. Last year my new kitchen $$$ went in fencing in our 3 acres to keep the neighbor's dogs out. The fence that we had before that had to be at least as old as the house and was in pretty bad shape. Now we have a good fence and are not losing any more chickens to this particular neighbor's dogs. The down side is I still have my old broken down kitchen!
     
  9. BillM2

    BillM2 Out Of The Brooder

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    You could try an electric fence but might need to power down the voltage. But I've heard that feathers don't conduct the charge so that may not work. Deer fencing cut in half lengthwise is pretty affordable. What I've done is stay outside with my hens and when they get to a border they're not allowed to cross, I have my small, mixed breed terrier on a leash and we herd them back. They seem to know now how far to go but need to be reminded every few days or so. I've bell trained them to come back to the coop if they've strayed too far and they come running for treats and/or scratch!
     
  10. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry but your best solution is "The Fence Solution". Good Fences make Good Neighbors.

    Electrified netting or wire is quick to install and probably your most economical choice. A good post and field fence will cost more but it will also improve your property value and be well worth the investment. Free range chickens need a perimeter fence to set boundaries as well as it sets a basic line of defense for predators. Dogs can be trained to stay within a boundary but chasing a rabbit or critter may send them off your property and even through invisible fence systems. Your County Assessor will have information regarding what is allowed on your land and how to change zoning or get variances approved. Be prepared for a fight or to be disappointed if you go that route.

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