New member in Boulder, Colorado - need advice with neighbor complaint!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by boulderdad, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. boulderdad

    boulderdad New Egg

    Feb 24, 2013
    Hi all -

    New member to BYC in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. We have had from 6-24 hens for the last 3 years, currently 12 ladies, who are a mix of breeds - Ameracauna, Australorp, Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, some Black Sex-links, Sussex, Barred Rock, you name it! All hens, no roosters.

    We have a good-size backyard garden (6 raised beds, 2 cold frames, a small greenhouse) and really have gotten into organic gardening over the last 4-5 years. Backyard chickens were a natural progression for us to get some fresh eggs, and my son (7) and daughter (5) have enjoyed helping us out with them.

    We have a backyard coop/run built onto the side of the house, which I built, and it's under some pines which provides some shade in the summer and protection from marauding raptors. So far, we have not lost any chickens to predators (though we have bobcats, cougars, coyotes, raccoons, foxes, skunks, many of which I've seen in our back yard!).

    Here's the rub...We live in south Boulder on a quiet street of about a dozen houses, and back onto a condo development. Our neighbors have been fine with our chickens, we have never had a complaint - until now. The Animal Control Officer showed up at 7am this morning to say that there had been a noise complaint at 6am. One more complaint and we're in court, court costs us $325 and penalties $500.

    Under Boulder's Animal Noise ordinance ( , 6-1-19 says "No person owning or keeping any animal shall fail to prevent such animal from disturbing the peace of any other person by...crowing, calling, or making any other loud and persistent or loud and habitual noise..."

    Talked to the AC officer, and there doesn't seem to be any recourse - they make another complaint about noise, and we are in court. The ordinance does not specify any sound levels, so the level of sound is not a defence. However, the AC officer does not know of any other Colorado cases of "chicken nuisance".

    Any members in Colorado, or especially Boulder, with any advice? We have put dark cloths on the two coop windows tonight and changed the bulb of the heat lamp to a red one to hopefully quiet down the ladies in the night - our anonymous complainant (we think one of the condo dwellers) has reportedly been awakened numerous times from 3-6am by the hens, though we have not...

    However, it looks like the way the noise ordinance is written, we have no defence, and will just have to give up the chickens - after one anonymous complaint!!!
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Hello and welcome to BYC [​IMG] Oh no, that won't be good. I know hens can be noisy, but... I think you should post or look around here:

    And look for people in your area in your state thread here:

    It's a long thread, I see, but just pop in near the end and introduce yourself. Hopefully someone there will be able to advice you also. If the neighbours are, ehh difficult you can always try and keep them sweet with some free eggs now and then. It worked with mine! Best of luck to you and fingers crossed you'll get this sorted and get to keep your hens. Otherwise you may need to look into getting quieter breeds...
    1 person likes this.
  3. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Greetings from Kansas, boulderdad, and [​IMG]! Pleased you joined us! Seems quite cowardly of the neighbor not to approach you first! I agree with Sumi's advice. Perhaps pen a letter to the neighbors (as you have only a few) asking if there is a way to deal with the situation short of court. I wish you all the best.
  4. thasista

    thasista Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 25, 2011
    My Coop
    Hi from Kentucky. I'm sorry about your situation and hope you find a solution that allows you to keep your chickens!
  5. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Dec 22, 2009

    Mr MKK FARMS Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Sep 27, 2012
    Welcome to BYC!! [​IMG] Glad you joined us!! [​IMG]
  7. ChicksandWeeds

    ChicksandWeeds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2012
    Northern California
    you MUST know your zoning, you must know the EXACT wording of the noise ordinances for example specifies: no more than 20 minutes out of each 1 hour ....

    you MUST know the EXACT specifications

    contact local chicken keeping and backyard groups who have dealt with this.

    i got served a noise complaint and animal control threatened with impound.... AND come onto the property to inspect - left satisfied that this is indeed an agricultural oprteration.
    animal contol should have NEVER ever served the notice and they DID NOT know better.

    i went to the district supervisor office (via e-mail) we are agricultural, plus there is a right to farm for mixed zoning, so basically (per law) i could have had as many roosters as i wanted, only the owners didn't want any more trouble and i have to now get rid of them. (which effectively eliminates my budding business) - simply because you never know what else people will do.

    have you actually checked what the noise is and if it really is from your hens?
    GET RID OF THAT LIGHT btw, red or white -and might be one of the reason they are noisy that early. it is only needed for chicks without a whoever told you you should have it ...not necessary. deal with having less eggs and chickens have feathers to keep them warm.
    add sound proof insulation if you don't want to move the coop.- just make sure you maintain excellent ventilation.

    speak to the officer, stay in communication about what you are doing to reduce the noise to zero - (and i do not believe you have to go to zero) ...but just say you are going to while keeping at least most of your chickens. - but get help on hwat recouse you actually do have. there MUST be a lot of folks in Boulder who actually know the law.

    1 person likes this.
  8. ChicksandWeeds

    ChicksandWeeds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2012
    Northern California
    regarding the : sweeten the deal with eggs: our complainer was anonymous and animal control absolutely would not give the name. ... you could send a message to them maybe via animal control telling them ...whatever that is .... but if your chickens are creating a ruckus at 3-6 am will not work. (again, turn off the light)
  9. boulderdad

    boulderdad New Egg

    Feb 24, 2013
    Thanks for the welcomes, the thread links, and I appreciate the advice! I did check out the Colorado thread, although I haven't found anything that relevant so far.

    ChicksandWeeds, didn't think of that, I guess I just assumed if it was below 25F or so at night we'd need to have a heat lamp on - you think they're okay without it?

    I believe our zoning is just residential, so I don't think that helps us, although I have seen some others make mention of state "RSA laws" that might supersede local laws? Maybe those just apply to farming operations, and I don't think we can claim we are.

    Although this experience has me wanting to move out of town to a bigger piece of land where we can build some large in-ground greenhouses and raise MORE chickens...;)
  10. weimarmama

    weimarmama Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 4, 2010
    My Coop
    [​IMG] & [​IMG] from Alabama. Glad you joined us.

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