Newport News poultry laws could be updated September 29, 2011|By Joe Lawlor, [email protected] | 247-7874 Cluck, cluck. The way the city ordinances read now, most Newport News residents are forbidden from raising chickens. And if you like to sleep in, you probably think that's a good thing. However, the "backyard chickens" movement seems to be growing, as people become interested in growing their own eggs. The idea appears to be catching on after publicity about poor living conditions for animals at factory farms. The question is how to balance the needs of city residents, who don't want to be awakened by roosters or see 25 chickens in their neighbors' back yards, with the desires of people who want a few chickens as pets and for fresh eggs. The good news: It looks like there's a way to keep everyone at least somewhat happy. I stumbled across a website called http://www.thecitychicken.com which among other things, is a repository for the various city laws that address raising chickens. Katy Skinner, who runs the site, said the best "urban compromise" she's seen allows up to three hens and no roosters in an urban environment such as Newport News. If you think about it, owning three hens may be less disruptive than some dogs and cats. Skinner agrees with that point. "I guarantee you two or three hens will be quieter than that dog you hear barking all night long. And I guarantee you that tom cat that has been (urinating) on your car tires smells way worse than chicken poop," Skinner wrote in an email to me last week. "You don't read about hens mauling children or pregnant ladies getting toxoplasmosis and having a miscarriage from chicken poop, but that happens with cat poop." Councilwoman Pat Woodbury said she believes the laws should be more flexible to allow residents to own some chickens. "Somebody owns a rooster in my neighborhood, because I hear it all the time. It doesn't bother me," Woodbury said.