This is my job...County Feedlot Officer!!

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by Western Chick, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. Western Chick

    Western Chick Songster

    Apr 17, 2008
    Western MN
    I was reading the threads about Alex's chickens with great interest because this is what I deal with on a daily basis. I work out of our county zoning office as the animal ag specialist or better known as- Feedlot Officer. Yup, I'm the bad guy!

    Actually, I think everybody should have a few chickens, I tell people this all the time. However, one thing we have to remember is that the zoning laws are not established simply to restrict uses but they also protect them by providing the proper place for certain uses.

    The county where I work has about the greatest range of land use imaginable. We have large scale farming (okay, not super big corporate farms but some in the 2000-3000 acre size), a city of 11,000 (50,000 in the summer due to tourism), expensive lake homes, weekend and summer homes, hobby farmers, small towns and everything in between. Needless to say, people have different ideas of what should be allowed. The purpose of zoning is to give everybody a chance to do what they want as long as it's done in the appropriate place.

    Here's an example- If somebody has a million-dollar lake home on a one-acre lot and the whole neighborhood is like this, they might get a little upset if somebody decided to raise 100 chickens in their backyard. When you pay that kind of money for a home you don't want to deal with the smell and flies associated with a flock of chickens.

    Now before you start getting mad at me, let's flip the coin. Here's the zoning disaster that happened in my neighborhood- I am living on 120 acres in the country. We're surrounded by state wildlife management areas. My nearest neighbor is a mile away as the crow flies. We do pretty much whatever we want and we enjoy the peace and quiet. Now, a man down the road has opened a hunting preserve advertising guided hunts in what I consider to be my backyard. His buisness will bring strangers to the neighborhood, strangers with guns, no less, more traffic, noise, dust, people coming to ask if they can go on our property to hunt and worse, those who will just do it without asking. A strong zoning ordinace should have prevented this hunting preserve from opening, thus protecting the quiet solitude we enjoy. (In this situation it didn't work this way and I'm more than a little bitter about it, I'm sure the zoning office was paid off! I'm proud to say though that I work in a different county than where this happened and I would have fought against such a proposal in the county where I work.)

    So in my position I am the one who says yes or no to somebody having chickens in their backyard. Please understand that there is a place for everything but not everything can be allowed at every place. You all should also understand that there is a big difference between a couple hens in a cute little coop and raising 100 broiler chickens on a small residential lot. Often times zoning ordinances are purposely written vaguely. If you're facing a battle with your zoning officials I encourage you to try to work with them to see what they think is reasonable for your area. Not all of them are out to get you!

    Feel free to ask me questions via PM if you want more information on zoning rules and enforcement.
  2. Great post! You did a wonderful job of presenting zoning from all sdies.

  3. I agree, and thank you for this nicely-balanced explanation. I'm very sorry about the loss of your quality of live regarding the hunting lands. In Nova Scotia we are losing agricultural land to other development and many of us are concerned at the long-term implications. Our little hobby farm is about 5 acres and 4 are zoned agricultural, so having birds is not a huge problem, though I did check. Each year a few more homes are built on the main highway or on the remains of family farms, and I can foresee the day that we might receive a complaint. We're staying with a small flock of hens, no roosters, and our 3 closest neighbors are neutral on the issue. Will it remain that way? We even have stray roosters who survived attacks on their free-range flocks. No one is hunting them (yet)!

    I am a strong believer in biosecurity against predators. I'm not so sure we need to worry about avian flu in our climate, but I don't want to lose my birds, ever, so I keep them separated from wild birds too, and we're running a closed flock- no one enters the roofed coop or run but us. I'm sure some folks might think it extreme, but we had a chance to build on new ground, and if we can keep it uncontaminated I'll be thrilled. I also have this fear that like the SPCA, that Canadians will one day have to worry about agricultural inspectors culling their birds instead of doing it themselves.

    A little rant, thank you for reading!
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2008

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