“If I hadn’t started painting, I would have raised chickens.” – Grandma Moses
I AM a big fan of the backyard chicken, so it is with great interest I read that a Winder man has asked the city council to revise ordinances so that keeping chickens is allowed. I am strongly in favor of this.
Now, before we go off half cocked and start imagining a poultry farm in every back yard, let’s look at the chicken as a civilized pet, kept enclosed in the yard, who, as a bonus, offers an egg each day. What’s not to like about that?
Of course there is the concern about the smell, and the flies, and of course, the crowing – it is a myth that roosters crow only in the morning, actually they crow all day. So, how do we address all that? Most cities that allow chickens – and there are A LOT of cities across the country that do – forbid roosters, restrict the number of hens, and dictate how the chickens must be housed, so as to minimize their impact on the neighbors.
Lot size is a common way to dictate how many hens can be kept. Requiring the birds to be penned or fenced in is also common, as is some kind of rule about how far away from neighboring properties housing for the birds must be. Some cities make money allowing backyard hens by charging a chicken permit fee, a chicken license fee and/or an annual chicken-keeping fee…Hmmm, maybe our city could use a little extra hen-generated cash?
Out of curiosity, I Googled “cities that allow chickens in the US” and ended up at a site called TheCityChicken.com. It was very informative, as it listed by state, the cities that allow chickens and what their laws are. Here are some examples: in New York City, hens are considered pets; Los Angeles allows an unlimited number of hens, but dictates how close to the neighbors they can be. There are no chicken ordinances in Washington, D.C., but your neighbors have to grant permission for you to keep hens.
Miami allows up to 15 hens, no roosters. In San Francisco, you can have up to four hens; hens are allowed as pets in Chicago, but they must be penned and you can’t slaughter them. Anchorage and Juneau (Alaska) allow hens, as does Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), Little Rock (Arkansas), and Huntsville and Mobile (Alabama.) Hens are okay in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In the Carolinas, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Columbia all allow backyard hens. Nashville allows an unlimited number of hens, as long as they are not a nuisance. Hens are even legal in Las Vegas, as long as they are kept in a coop - somehow the notion of hens in Sin City seems like a stretch, but it’s true.