Chickens Gone Wild!

Chickens Gone Wild!

Not everyone appreciates having chickens living next door.  If you’re inclined to let your chickens run wild around your property, they will more than likely begin to roam into your neighbors’ yards, and then you should be prepared for some back lash.  Not everybody is as fond and forgiving of chickens as chicken owners themselves.  Let’s face it, who wants chickens pooping on their driveways, porches, decks, walkways and grass.  Not to mention the aggravation of chickens scratching around in one’s flower beds and messing up the landscaping.  Being a good neighbor means treating others the way you want to be treated whether it pertains to animal behaviors, or human.

If you’re a chicken owner there are quite a few rules of etiquette to follow if you don’t want to upset your neighbors.  One thing we chicken owners don’t want to do is to incite angry and negative responses from the public about our backyard chickens and other farm animals within the city limits.  If we want understanding and acceptance from the non chicken loving public and city councils about our farming activities in urban areas, then we need to be responsible and vigilant about how we care for and manage our chickens.   If we don’t, then we could get our rights taken away to have chickens and other backyard farm animals on our property.  Of course if that ever happened in our town, there would probably be a chicken rebellion, and I would be at the front and center of it!  In my opinion, chickens are much less offensive than dogs, cats and many humans I have lived near in terms of noise, smell, lack of sanitation and messes!

If you own chickens, some of the typical comments one might hear from neighbors would be the following:

  1. Your chickens are sure noisy!
  2. What’s that smell coming from your yard?
  3. Did I hear a rooster crowing in your back yard the other day?
  4. Is this your chicken? I heard you were the chicken lady. (The words of a man on my porch one rainy evening as he stood there holding a wet hen in his arms that he’d chased down).
  5. Are those your chickens running around?  I’m afraid they’re gonna get run over.
  6. Text from a friend:  your chickens are out near the street again.  Looks like you may be having chicken for dinner tonight!
  7. Could you keep your chickens in your own yard, please?  Or in my own neighbor’s words, “You know I love you Jan, but…  I don’t know about those chickens of yours… (my chickens were pooping on his driveway and scratching in his flower beds).
  8. And the one response you don’t want to get is from the City of Springfield Police Department stating the following:

WARNING TO THE CHICKEN(S) OWNER/KEEPER AT: ___________

This is a courtesy letter to you the chicken owner, advising you that a verbal complaint was made against your chickens for being at ______________ (no name specified, of course).  If the violations of Springfield City Ordinance 5.418 continue, formal complaints could be signed and a citation issued.  Your chickens need to be confined to your property and are not allowed to roam onto any other properties.

If you have any questions regarding this complaint or other animal control matters please contact me at (541) 726-3634 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Officer Brian Austin
Springfield Police/Animal Control


Springfield City Ordinances

On the City of Springfield website under Chapter 5 Public Protection you can find some of the ordinances pertaining to chickens and animals in our city.

http://www.qcode.us/codes/springfield/

After clicking on Chapter 5 Public Protection you will see a menu of options that will take you to the ordinances. Click on Control of Dogs and other Animals, then click on Lot size and Numbers of Farm Animals Permitted.  Another menu option appears with General, Fowl and Poultry, Rabbits, Bees, etc…   If you click on General, it will tell you about the penalties.  I was shocked to see that some of the offenses specified may include a fine not exceeding $720.00!  Hummm… don’t get me started on that one!!!

Below is a PDF from Eugene called Backyard Chickens 101 that is worth reading. It also outlines what Eugene’s ordinances are related to chickens:

http://02c9d6e.netsolhost.com/archive_docs/backyard_chickens.pdf

I like some of the comments made about how to keep neighbors happy:

  1. Keep a clean coop so manure doesn’t build up, chicken feed doesn’t attract rodents, and odor doesn’t disturb the neighbors.
  2. Even docile laying hens can squawk loudly to get out of the coop first thing in the morning or after they’ve just laid an egg, so set the alarm early and let them out before they wake the neighbors.
  3. Talk to your neighbors; bring them fresh eggs and garden produce, share with them your chicken pleasures and pretty soon they’ll be your advocate too!

An interesting side note that I wasn’t aware of is that the minimum number of chickens for a stable social hierarchy (pecking order) is three.  So if you aren’t allow at least three hens, then you may have some social problems to deal with!  Of course, everyone should know that roosters are not allowed in the city for obvious reasons.  In Springfield, they are allowed up to 6 months old.

Initially, I was a bit upset about getting the warning from the city, but now I’m glad I did because it gave me the experience I needed to share this information with the reader, AND it got my butt in gear so that I finally put up a temporary fence to keep my chickens in the backyard.  I often worried about them going out into the busy street or that a big dog might chase them down and attack them! Now I have more piece of mind knowing that they are safe and my neighbors are not unhappy with me and my hens anymore!

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