Time and time again I hear people complaining about the problems they think backyard chickens will bring if allowed into the backyards of their city. Some of the more common complaints that I hear are noise, smell, rodents, disease and property value. I would like to address each and every one of these complaints one by one.
I don’t think I've ever been to a meeting about keeping backyard chickens where the noise issue has not been brought up at least once. I often hear people complaining about the potential early morning crow of a nearby rooster. This is a very valid point, and I too would be complaining if a rooster were waking me up every morning at 4:30am, especially if I did not have to wake up until 7:00am or later. There are many advantages of keeping backyard chickens, but most urban chicken keepers want to keep backyard chickens for the benefits of having an endless supply of farm fresh eggs. Solution? You do not need a rooster to enjoy farm fresh eggs every morning. In fact, hens will lay better if there is no rooster around to disturb their routine. Roosters primarily have two jobs, which they do very well. They protect and fertilize. You only need a rooster if you want baby chicks running around in the backyard. I still hate to see cities ban roosters all together because there are ways to keep roosters in an urban area quietly and responsibly. I plan to share how this can be done at a later date.
Smell is another complaint that is often brought up when discussing chickens. Yes, chickens can smell just like dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils and even people, if not taken care of properly. We are not talking about a 300-foot commercial chicken house with 30,000 chickens next door. We are talking about six to twelve laying hens in a backyard setting. There are many ways to reduce the smell of your chicken coop and I will share how this can be done at a later date.
If you don’t think that you have mice and rats outside your home right now, you are living in a fantasy world. Many claim that keeping chickens will attract mice and rats and think they don’t exist until the chickens arrive. One client of mine who is entertaining the idea of getting some backyard chickens lives in the most affluent city in Georgia. She told me that her cat leaves her little "presents" at the back door almost every day. These "presents" just happen to be mice and rats. She also said that she has seen mice and rats run across her backyard and up a honeysuckle vine to get over the fence and into her neighbor’s yard. Yes, if you have chickens there will be another food source in your backyard, but there are ways to keep the chicken feed put away in mice and rat proof containers. I will share how this can be done at a later date.
About three years ago many were asking questions about the risks of avian influenza and keeping backyard chickens. I would always refer them to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website where it addresses this issue. On the Q&A page the following is posted. Question: We have a small flock of chickens. Is it safe to keep them? Answer: In the United States there is no need at present to remove a flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian influenza. The U.S. Department of Agriculture monitors potential infection of poultry and poultry products by avian influenza viruses and other infectious disease agents. Enough said!
Many people who oppose the keeping of backyard chickens often sound off during meetings about decreased property values if the city allows the keeping of backyard chickens. All I can say is show me the proof. No one has ever shown up at a backyard chicken meeting that I have ever attended with any valid proof that someone got $10,000 less for their home because a resident in their city keeps backyard chickens.
To put backyard chickens into perspective I often tell people the following. On any given day I have more dog poop in my front yard from other neighbor’s dogs then they have chicken poop in their front yard from my chickens. I have more cat prints on my car from other neighbor’s cats then they have chicken prints on their car from my chickens. And I’m awakened at 2:00am more from other neighbor’s dogs barking then they have ever been awakened at 2:00am from my sleeping hens.
Keeping backyard chickens can be a fun and rewarding experience. If you would like to learn more about keeping backyard poultry I invite you to listen to the Backyard Poultry with the Chicken Whisperer radio show Monday through Friday at 12:00pm Eastern at www.blogtalkradio.com/backyardpoultry and on Saturday at 9:00am EST at www.americaswebradio.com.