Letter: Ordinance can addess major chicken issues

From: William Porter


The request in the Sept. 6 editorial suggesting the need for an ordinance to prohibit chickens as pets in the city is inconsistent with the decisions of many communities in Indiana and throughout the nation addressing the subject of backyard chickens.

Other communities within Indiana that have passed ordinances allowing backyard chickens include, but are not limited to, Indianapolis, Evansville, Bloomington, Muncie, Zionsville and Carmel.

The potential grievances expressed by neighbors of backyard chickens in this community include noise, smell and the attraction of predators. These issues are largely unfounded, however, and can be controlled by limits in an ordinance related specifically to the keeping of a backyard flock.

First, hens (female chickens) make very little noise. The noise they make consists of bird-like chirps which, if not standing near one, would not be noticeable over other chirping birds or general traffic noise, both common in a city.

Roosters (male chickens) can be noisy. They produce a spirited cock-a-doodle-doo in the morning and sometimes throughout the day. For this reason, most backyard chicken ordinances prohibit the keeping of roosters. An ordinance consistent with this, allowing only hens and not roosters, would eliminate the potential disrupting noise source from a backyard chicken flock.

Second, the waste produced by five to six chickens is equivalent to that of an average dog. Just like a home with a dog, the backyard would stay as clean as the property owner keeps it. Most of a chicken’s waste is expelled during the night while sleeping in a coop and can be easily contained and collected. In addition, chicken waste is a good source of fertilizer and can be used within composts and gardens, unlike other pet waste.

Third, chickens can be a potential source of prey similar to any domestic cat or small dog allowed to roam outside. Security and safety of a backyard chicken flock should be the responsibility of its owner, just as it should be his responsibility to keep them contained within the property. Requirements addressing these issues are commonly included in backyard chicken-keeping ordinances. The basic maintenance and care for a backyard chicken flock is very similar to that of most other types of domestic animals.

I would recommend the Columbus City Council devise an ordinance that allows the keeping of backyard chickens, yet imposes limits in line with other Indiana communities allowing backyard flocks. Restrictions on an ordinance should be put in place to harbor goodwill between neighbors and to address the potential negatives of keeping a backyard flock.

Even with the passage of ordinances allowing backyard chickens, the Carmels and Bloomingtons of the world have yet to revert to a rural environment filled with pigs and sheep as the editorial suggested. I would envision the same outcome for this community.