Yesterday when I got home from work, animal control had left me a note wanting to meet with me about my chickens because someone complained that I had 12 instead of 10 and that my coop was too big and not far enough away from the fence, and that I let them outside their pen at night. Boy, I'm in a quandry and thought maybe you might have some thoughtful input as to what I can do about this very upsetting development. Someone (I'm guessing the same person) complained some time ago about my shed before I even finished building it, saying that I had built something huge without a permit. This was while the chicks were still in the house. At that time I was visited by the code enforcement people who ended up giving me thumbs up. Now that the chicks are in their run and I let them outside with me in the afternoons after work, someone (the same person) has made a formal complaint to animal control because the chicks are "outside at night" and that....oh my god we're all going to die...I have 12 chicks instead of 10!!! I If even one person had objected beforehand, I never would have even followed through with this project at all because I didn't want to make anyone unhappy, and is also precisely why I did not get a rooster. I got two extra chicks because I thought one or more might die in transport and I may end up with a rooster or two. I suspect that whoever has complained doesn't really know anything about chickens or understand any of their benefits. I was told that I had to reduce my flock by two and move the pen & coop 20' from the fence line within the next 30 days (it's about 10' now and is not within 50' of any living area). I can't move the coop, it's unmovable as it is on a concrete slab and the run is entirely set in a concrete perimeter. So now I'm stuck. I was disappointed that the animal control officer couldn't tell me who was complaining so I could have a reasonable face to face conversation with them. The officer was kind enough to call the complainer and offered to give them my phone number so we could talk, but the complainer was 'chicken' (lol) and wanted to remain forever anonymous and never wants his/her name to come out in public. If the officer gives me a citation, then the complainer would have to go to court, and they don't want that either. When the officer told them I was allowed to have chickens, they acted surprised and conceded that they would stop complaining if I got rid of two and kept the chicks locked up 24x7. So I question whether they were surprised at all since they knew I could only have ten and I have twelve. So tell me what difference two hens make? How do I choose which ones of my pets to kill or give away? So now I have sort of a concession, but my pets are the ones who will suffer from that kind of arrangement. It is cruel and unusual punishment for them and will create more work for me. It is my educated opinion that keeping the chicks locked up 24x7 is bad for them and not only will make them sad but could also be unhealthy for them because they won't get the little extra exercise or nutrients they pick up during a couple hours of grazing. Besides, I got them primarily for pest control with the added benefit of free fertilizer and eggs...... and never even knew they could mow my lawn. The complainer obviously doesn't understand, and must be thoroughly ignorant about chickens. I wonder what kinds of old wives tales they may be relying on for information or belief system about poultry? I'm thinking of maybe doing some kind of plea to the City on behalf of my new pets to see if I can let them free range in my back yard as long as I'm with them. I figure the City might be more apt to listen to many voices, especially if they knew we all wanted fresh, untreated, organic eggs and that most neighbors are ok with them. All it takes is one prick to pop a balloon. I don't know whether to throw up or cry.