The 6 Silliest Arguments Against Backyard Chickens

We’ve never heard any meaningful reasons against keeping a small flock of pet backyard chickens. Objections to urban and suburban chicken keeping usually spring from basic ignorance or a lack of education about chickens, and occasionally just a plain lack of common sense. Below are the basic objections you will hear... and as you will see, they don’t represent a single meaningful reason to make keeping a small flock of chickens illegal.

1. “Chickens are smelly!”

Chickens don’t smell bad any more than other pets do. A properly clean chicken coop has no objectionable odors. While it’s certainly true that if your chicken coop is seldom or never cleaned, it will begin to smell, the same is true of a cat box that is never cleaned, or a dog kennel that is never cleaned.  There are laws against animal cruelty, animal neglect, animal abuse, and so on that apply to all pets. The bottom line is that responsible people give their pets proper care and provide them with a clean environment.

Chalk this argument up to a lack of common sense. Chickens are no different from other pets in this regard.

Loud chicken

2. “Laying hens are loud!”

The truth is that a flock of laying hens is actually quiet, far quieter than dogs are. A hen will cackle or squawk when she lays an egg. That occurs once a day---or less, depending on the breed and age of the hen, as well as the season.

Eggs laid by hens raised on pasture have 67% more vitamin A, 200% more Omega-3s, 300% more Vitamin E, 700% more Beta carotene... and 33% LESS cholesterol  and 25% LESS saturated fat.

The noise level for the squawk after egg laying is up to 70 decibels at its very loudest, or about the same volume as a normal conversation between two people... and in the same range of noise volume made be an air conditioner, a washer, or a flushed toilet. That’s as loud as they get. Lawn mowers and barking dogs register at around  90 -100 decibels, much louder than a few hens. And roosters can be loud, sure--about as loud as a barking dog--but roosters are not required for egg production.

The noise argument is based on basic ignorance about chickens and biology. Many uneducated people think they will hear crowing if their neighbors keep hens for eggs, because they think a rooster is required for egg production... but he’s not. Human women ovulate regardless of whether a male is around or not, and so does a hen. Remember, roosters are only required if you want your hen’s eggs to be fertile!

3. “Chicken flocks produce a lot of poop and waste!”

Very little solid waste is produced by chickens, and what IS produced can be composted to make great fertilizer.

By way of comparison, an average dog will produce around a pound of poop in a day, whereas a flock of four hens will only produce less than half that, about 1.5 ounces of waste per hen. Four chickens produce less waste than a medium house cat, too. Plus, composted chicken manure can eventually be used for your garden (another reason why people who have hobbies like gardening are often interested in keeping chickens, and vice versa).

Normally you don’t compost dog or cat poo, since manure is more nutritious for plants if it has been produced by animals that get most of their nutrition from plants (including cows, sheep, goats, horses... and chickens).

The worry about chickens producing too much poop comes a lack of common sense--forgetting that ALL pets produce waste--paired with ignorance that small flocks of chickens actually produce less waste than most other single pets.

4. “Chickens will attract wild animals to my neighborhood!”

Don’t be silly! Presuming you keep everything clean and tidy with your pet chickens just as you would when keeping a pet cat or dog, raising chickens doesn’t make rodents or other pests magically appear from thin air. While it IS true that if there are any pests already in your neighborhood, they might be attracted to chicken feed if you spill it or don't keep it secured, they would be just as attracted to spilled or unsecured cat or dog food, wild bird feed, a koi pond, or even to your family’s food waste discarded in unsecured outdoor garbage cans or compost piles--and all of those probably already exist in most neighborhoods, anyway. Chicken food is no different from any other pet food in that respect.

If you do have small rodents in your area, a flock of chickens can actually reduce their number, since some breeds will catch and eat small mice and moles like cats do--chickens will eat small snakes, too. Plus, they eat other pests like ticks, mosquitos, grasshoppers and the like.

Chickens are generally more vulnerable to attack by smaller predators than dogs are... but even so, small dogs and cats can be attacked by hungry wild animals, too. That said, stories like this one don’t mean that dachsunds or other small dogs are likely to “attract” predators to the neighborhood. This is another argument demonstrating a basic lack of common sense.

5. “Legalizing chickens will negatively affect property values”  

Not true. Take a few moments to read some old news stories about the legalization of backyard chickens, and you’ll notice that no actual evidence indicating that property values drop due to backyard chickens is EVER cited. Instead, the media will report that opponents simply have a “fear” of reduced property values. It seems to me that reporters should follow that claim up with actual data... but there is none to be had (and you know the media these days). So this argument is like a bogeyman: it’s not real, but is frequently employed to frighten people into a position of compliance and fear. We've heard stories about realtors like this one who feel that the right to keep a small flock of chickens could attract people to buy.

Golden Laced Polish hen
A Golden Laced Polish hen

Rather than driving neighbors apart, chickens are usually conversation starters, particularly unusual breeds like Polish with their huge crests, or Silkies with their fur-like feathers. And today's small flock chicken coops are boutique, high-end items designed to look pretty in the yard. Remember, neighbors who want to keep chickens are just that: your neighbors. They care about the value of their homes and the quality of life in their community just as much as opponents of backyard chickens do--maybe more. People who keep backyard chickens are often involved in many other hobbies that add value to your neighborhood, including flower or vegetable gardening, beekeeping, growing fruit trees or berry bushes and so on.  Think about it: this is exactly the sort of thing that can enhance community feeling and friendship in your neighborhood. Imagine a neighborhood where your neighbors share berries, fresh eggs, zucchini and tomatoes with you... and you might “lend” a cup of sugar or share a mug of coffee. That’s what good neighbors do.

That's why some of the most expensive and exclusive communities in the country allow small flocks of laying chickens. For example, New York, Portland, Chicago and Boulder--cities with some of the highest property values in the country--allow hens. If keeping chickens negatively affected the property values of the communities that permitted them, surely the communities would be taking steps to repeal them based on this mounting evidence, right? This is not happening. Instead, in some areas with high property values, the regulations are actually becoming more permissive with regard to backyard chickens, presumably because these places have found that the quality of life has improved. For example, in 2010, Seattle went from allowing families 3 hens to allowing 8 hens, a much more reasonable number if your family eats lots of eggs, especially if you don’t want to be limited to getting only the breeds with the highest egg production.

The “property value” argument is typically based on emotions and other evidence-less prejudices. There is zero evidence that legalizing pet chickens has affected property values.

6. “People who want to keep chickens should just move to the country!”

This is probably the most ridiculous “argument” of all, if it can even be termed an argument. In the United States, no matter where you live, you have basic rights that allow you to enjoy your own property... but that means your neighbors have the same rights to enjoy their property, as disappointing as some may find that to be. If YOU are unduly bothered by your neighbors--when their activities don’t affect property values, produce foul odors, loud noise, excess waste or present other actual problems--then YOU are the one who’ll need to consider moving out of town and into the country.

Some people would be happier with a buffer zone around them so that it will be easier for them to mind their own business and be less invasive of the privacy of others who live nearby. If you are that type of person, then just purchase a reasonable amount of acreage and put your house in the middle, so interaction with your neighbors will be minimal. Out in the country with plenty of space around you, you’ll be happier and less stressed out by what any of your neighbors might be doing on their own property.

Wait, you’re thinking that telling someone to move out of their home doesn’t seem like a real, workable solution to a problem? Really?  Yeah, that’s right. It’s really stupid. The sensible thing would be for everyone to live and let live, and to stop worrying so much about what's happening on your neighbor's side of the fence.

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Jennifer Johnson
10 years ago

This was a great article. I am always telling people these same things. I am still surprised with people and their confusion and fear of my sweet chickens.

10 years ago

I've been told my neighbors don't like my chickens because they're afraid my chickens might hurt or scare their children. Since my chickens are contained not sure how this is possible.

10 years ago

I find my neighbors all-invasive cigarette smoke more objectionable than chickens. If they can chain smoke in their backyard with their yapping dogs I can dang well house a few hens in my organic garden! Thanks for the article 🙂

Christine R.
10 years ago

I have had to explain some of these things to some people a few times. But most times people like the idea of having a small flock. They think it's harder than it is. 🙂
For the most part no one gives me a hard time.

Rebecca Lane
10 years ago

Good answers! I'd suggest dropping phrases like "Don't be silly!". Not the best way to engage a sceptic, as it feels dismissive & disrespectful.

10 years ago
Reply to  Rebecca Lane

Rebecca, it IS dismissive. I dismiss the nonsense arguments, and will await reasoned objections.

10 years ago

Great article! One of the most ridiculous arguments I have heard against keeping backyard chickens is that "chickens will attract bugs." Don't these people know that bugs are a faveorite food of chickens?!?!? One of the best things about having backyard chickens is you don't have the yucky bugs! I especially like that chickens eat ticks & mosquitoes!

10 years ago

The biggest complaint I've heard around here is "If you let people have chickens in town then they're gonna want pigs/horses/cows in their backyard!"

I have a very artfully landscaped yard. I am not going to put a pig in it.

10 years ago

You must have been sitting in on the past year and a half of Zoning Commission, Animal Control Board, and City Council meetings in Billings, MT! Verbatim complaints... such a lot of hysteria over such quiet little bug-eating, compost-creating, egg-producing happy backyard hens!

Carlos Villarreal
10 years ago

What an interesting and mind opener article. I am glad I read this paragraphs and thankful to you guys for taking the time to prepare such a cultural reading

I live in Glendale, CA and the City only allows 2 chicks per household, no roosters at all and I consider that as a sad and excluding law. I hope these guys could read this article and do something to change the law in my city. Thank you MyPetChicken. Great job

10 years ago

my neighbours LOVE my chickens, and make sure that the leavings from their vegie patch, plus the grass clippings, come over the fence for our chooks.
We in turn give them eggs occasionally - a lovely relationship

Coco Rogers
10 years ago

My girls are sweet, pretty, clean, and their chatter is pleasant to hear. They are sociable, affectionate pets, and they are very tolerant and gentle with my 6 year old son. I can't understand how these attractive, useful birds could be considered more of a nuisance than some people's high-strung, nippy, noisy toy dogs I've met in my travels.

Besides, the conditions factory farm chickens are forced to endure are truly horrifying. I don't think people would be as accepting of such inhumane treatment in the name of cheap eggs once they got to know some actual well-tended pet chickens.

Excellent article! I hope more communities see the light about chicken keeping.

10 years ago

Thank you for a wonderful article...we are having our own little issue regarding our hens, and will be using these sound reasonings to educate and hopefully make some changes in people's hearts.
Amazing that there are people who actually FEAR chickens...
In our town, the regulations need to change a bit, so we will be working on that.
Thank you, MyPetChicken!!!

Sherri-Aynn Collins
10 years ago

Great blog post! Have my first 4 month old chickens and I worry what to say if any neighbors object. Good ammo! So far neighbors think I am just a quirky but and I'm pretty sure our dogs are much more annoying than chickens will ever be!

10 years ago

Great article. The obnoxious children in our neighbourhood make far more noise screaming & crying in their backyard than any chickens ever would!

Peggy K
10 years ago

I am currently "chicken-sitting" for my daughter's four chickens. And I have to say, the noise from the cicadas drowns out everything. I rarely hear the sweet, almost cooing, sounds from the chickens. So those who are concerned with noise, join me in sitting with them for a few days. You'll actually begin to see them as pets.

10 years ago

I would like to dedicate this article to the police department of Kingsford, MI. Not that they'll read it...

Julie M.
10 years ago

My neighbor and his constantly running power saw is WAY louder than my rooster. 🙂

Lou T.
10 years ago

Thank you for taking the time to write and then post this blog. Your blog posting inspires those of us who are facing these very same hurdles in realizing our dreams of raising our own flock of backyard chickens in our home towns. I am hoping to raise my own small flock of backyard chickens here in my home town of Belvidere Illinois. I have not made that step as of yet because I am in the process of educating myself on the "how To" of caring for and raising backyard chickens and the impacts it may or may not have on my neighborhood so when I go to my town's zoning board I want to be speaking from a platform that is based on fact and data instead of speculation and fear. If you have any additional suggestions or information that may help me in my efforts I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks again , Lou T.

Lou T.
10 years ago

What I meant to say is that "I want to be speaking from a platform that is based on fact and data so I can hopefully put at ease any feelings of speculation and fear which they might have.

Diana F
10 years ago

I have three girls, they always stay in their coop/run (city ordinance). They cluck a little when they lay, but I have two rottweilers next door that could wake the living dead when they bark!!! My coop is clean, the girls don't bother anyone, and I actually have one other neighbor a block away who has three BPRs, and four other neighbors, within a block and half, who are so intrigued they want to get their own chickens within the next year. There is actually a renegade rooster that lives several blocks from me and runs loose, and they've had him for a number of years, and nobody seems too bothered by him. I live in the center of town, in a very nice house in a beautiful older part of town, and it doesn't seem to be a problem, plus I can legally have 3 hens. I just don't get all the fuss. Chickens have been legal in my city since I was a kid (city population currently 750,000). I can remember several neighbors having chickens and never thought anything about it, and neither did anyone else. I do think roosters should not be allowed (which they aren't) because of the crowing. People have rude children, pot belly pigs, barking dogs, loud cars, loud music, some don't take care of their yards, etc., etc., and they think that is no big deal, but chickens are????? Seriously!!! If the food situation gets any tougher with all this bad weather and draught, they might be wishing they had chickens.

10 years ago

So true.... I wish my nabors could see this !!!!!!!

Sue K.
10 years ago

I tried to fight my neighbor's complaint to my township by attending planning commission meetings and aproaching the board. Our township atty threatened to take me to court and possibly face 90 days in jail for an ordinance violation. My little ladies are gone...but my coop remains in clear view to the ONLY neighbor who sad...loved this article, thanks! PS - you can google my story "Woman faces jail time for keeping chickens" WNEM TV5, Williams Township, MI.

10 years ago

Great article! Yes, some of these arguments against chickens are so silly! I think some of the concern about noise comes from the fact that people aren't used to hearing chicken sounds, not necessarily that they are louder than other pets... just that it's a different noise than what's familiar, which is a shame. But it's like when someone from the city, who is used to noisy city sounds like cars honking, car alarms, and such, goes camping in the woods and says they can't sleep because it's too noisy - from crickets chirping, owls hooting, the wind blowing through the trees, etc... But the good news is that people easily get used to new sounds!

10 years ago

Unfortunately these sound like reasons you give to a zoning board, not reasons you give to your neighbor.

Great article! I agree all six points! For #2-I have to tell you, my neighbor's dogs are a lot louder than my chickens. They bark all night and all day, and they live way down the block. Many people do not realize this about chickens. Thanks for sharing!

10 years ago

Do you have an answer for those who argue chickens will bread disease, like bird flus? Also, have you ever seen (or thougth of creating) a brochure or a fact sheet that lists out these topics? With the volumes of chicken lovers that are fighting city hall, it would be super helpful to have something professional to hand the uneducated people voting against us.

10 years ago
Reply to  Vickie

Just like the other "arguments" above, the idea that pet chickens spread disease more than other pets do is pretty silly. We included that "argument" under the idea that chickens are "dirty," but if you need more specific information for city hall, it's not hard to find. The data shows that "When it comes to bird flu, diverse small-scale poultry farming is the solution, not the problem, and that "the key to protecting backyard poultry and people from bird flu is to protect them from industrial poultry and poultry products." (My emphasis added.) In other words, making sure that we have the right to small flocks of backyard chickens is a way to protect ourselves and our communities from the very diseases they say they fear.


Allowing families to keep small numbers of chickens as pets---because pets get good care and are closely monitored for health---is the best way to prevent diseases like avian flu or salmonella. Read more about commonsense biosecurity precautions on our website (HINT: you should do things like wash your hands, use clean equipment, buy from reputable hatcheries or breeders and so on--just like you would with other animals). You can also read about how salmonella is far more of a danger with factory farmed birds, too.

helen chavis
10 years ago

GREAT ARTICLE 😀 I've lived lots of places that chickens were not allowed. It is a shame that there are such narrow minded people out there. I had to move to the country to be able to get chickens now i have 28 chickens all different breeds, hens and roosters. LOVE my chickens

10 years ago

raising chickens is part of the American culture and it is just too bad that we have cultivated such a large segment of society that just really can't do anything but complain. They will eat the eggs and meat though.

10 years ago

Great article. I will be asking my city to allow chickens in the next month--this was really helpful and captures many concerns I have already heard from the city council.

One other frequently voiced concern is that backyard coops are unfair to the animals because people may not take good care of them and abandon chickens at animal shelters. This is the silliest argument to me---I care for a dog and two small children. It's absurd that the government doubts my competence to care for a few chickens. Additionally, even a poorly maintained backyard coop is a FAR better life than an institutional chicken farm. If I don't have my 5 hens, those 5 hens end up at an institutional farm ( I still need to get eggs somewhere).

10 years ago

Just 2 hens are enough to supply me and my neighbour with all the eggs we need! We both agreed to share costs for food and take turns with maintenance. We both have difficulties with auto immune disorders (rheumatoid arthritus, Fibromyalgia and severe allergies) and we discovered that NON commercial eggs made a huge difference, so now we also share a 12 x 12 garden and buy only locally farmed beef, lamb, and pork and it has made a HUGE difference in our wellness! 2 hens for 2 people! 2 families sharing the cost which is tiny! Much cheaper than my medications I USED TO have to take that also don't recognize my voice and come running cooing at me when I approach them even from around the corner! The hens are sweet, gentle, and lay gorgeous easter egg coloured eggs. They are also endangered so we let them raise ONE ONLY family a YEAR and the chicks are always spoken for brfore they are even hatched! They are picked up at 3 or 4 days old to make sure they are healthy and the sale of the chicks pays for 2 months of the mom's food at a minimum! So we are helping the endangered Favaucana chickens survival! The neighbourhood little kids LOVE the eggs, and think the Easter Bunny has a secret hideaway at our chickens house! The children love to play gently with the chickens, and bring them little jars of bugs that they save for after school treats for the birds. They also are learning how important it is to play gently and respect pets and animals OTHER than dogs and cats.
I can see NOTHING negative about our 2 beautiful, big, gentle, girls, other than they don't live forever and it is heart breaking when one walks, gently cooing as always, over the rainbow bridge to wait for us!
I'm in BC Canada

Marcia H
10 years ago


Re Rebecca's observation that phrases like "Don't be silly" seem "dismissive": The bottom line question is, "Do you want to win people over to your side, or do you want to put them in their place?" If the former, you want to minimize putting them on the defensive. Your counter arguments starting off "Not true . . ." and "The truth is . . ." are great examples of setting people straight without raising their hackles. If you maintain that tone throughout your discussion, you're likely to get more converts.

10 years ago
Reply to  Marcia H

There are some people that feed off the delusion that their wishful thinking points-of-view deserve the same consideration as do facts, and that's just not true. That being said, "Don't be silly," is about as mild a rebuke of that type that one can make. And if you can't bear to hear (or read) "don't be silly" after having taken a firm stand against backyard chickens without research into the facts or the support of any data, then you're probably not going to change your mind no matter how many kisses I blow your way.

Kristen E. Martin
10 years ago

This may have been said already, but to quote Gene Logsdon: "The fact that zoning in towns allows residents to raise a barking, crapping dog the size of a small elephant, but not four hens for a steady fresh egg supply shows just how lacking commonsense we have become as a society."

10 years ago

My health and happiness have diminished since my neighbors got chickens. They are loud and wake me up with first light. I hope my untimely death will make it all worth your while to promote this. We live on postage stamp sized lots.

10 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Speaking hyperbolically, are we? Well, unless you are consistent in your objections and also want to oppose the keeping of (louder-than-hen) dogs, etc., in your neighborhood, then--also speaking hyperbolically--it will almost certainly be worth my while!

9 years ago

Oh man, if i could afford to move to the country, I would.

9 years ago

I have had to say goodbye to my 6 hens because of city laws. Why can't people see that chickens are sweet, giving animals with tons of personality and great pet? Anyway, most other common pets can't make you fresh breakfast.

9 years ago

Absolutely bloody brilliant blog post. Looking forward to using points 1 through 6. Thank you! 🙂

Linda Lovett
9 years ago

How can I send this article to my email address? I want to save it for future use and reference in my community. Thank you.

9 years ago
Reply to  Linda Lovett

The easiest way would probably be to cut and paste the URL into an email and send it to yourself.

Jay S.
8 years ago

I am planning on getting my chickens soon I live in Belvider,Illinois just like Lou T. Maybe we can help each other out with educating and helping people better understand why this is a good thing and not a nuisance. I would also like to know what Belvidere has to say about having a small flock. Thanks everybody

8 years ago

I am in hoa and

I appealed and they declined

I'm going to ask neighbors to sign petition
How do I draw up a petition?
Help me write up a good one to have neighbors sign to have chicken in my backyard.

Thank you!

8 years ago
Reply to  Lori

Hi Lori! So sorry to hear about your HOA problem. However, I think this is too large a question to answer very well in a comment. I'll try to put a blog post together this week or next (2-28-14 or 3-7-14) on the subject for our blog. Keep your eyes open!

8 years ago

I believe it depends on the neighborhood and the size of the lots. I think if you keep the coops clean it would not smell. But how many people keep them clean? I would bet maybe half just like with cat boxes. The feathers would definitely blow into neighbors' yards. The coops would eventually look like crap (no pun intended). Maybe the overall home prices in the suburb are not shown to decline but what about the houses right next door to the chickens? I find it hard to believe at leat half of the people who looked at a house would not buy because of the coop, thus reducing the price. There is zero real data on the iimpact of allowing chickens. This site is written by someone who onws chickens so its slightly biased.

8 years ago
Reply to  ohiodale

I'm glad we received the above comment because it is a perfect example of the type of off-base response you can run into at town council meetings. Take a few moments to reread it and think about its claims before you go on to read my response. Are its arguments supported? Is it ignorning any facts? Is it basing claims on false premises? Okay, now you're ready. Here's how you respond. Notice that the comment claims that the blog post is biased, without pointing out any factual errors. Remember, facts--about noise, waste, etc.-- are not biased just because someone wishes they pointed to a different conclusion! Note that "ohiodale" also makes up statistics about the percent of cat owners who neglect their cats, and while citing bogeyman fears about property values, still fails to provide any support for such an argument. He or she also seems to fear shed feathers, but fails to explain why (are fallen leaves also a "danger"? what about the feathers of wild birds?). Another logical fallacy you'll often see in this situation is the "slippery slope" fallacy: that because chickens are permitted, soon we'll be seeing all sorts of animals--it will be neighborhood chaos! Of course that's not true, just as it isn't true that getting one dog or cat will inevitably lead to 40 dogs or cats. So, when you're confronted with this bizarre thinking in a forum or meeting, don't get sucked into these off-base detours and deflections. Instead, remain calm and point out that simply making a claim that, say, 50% of cat owners (or chicken owners, or dog owners) will not properly care for their pets doesn't make it true. Restating unfounded fears about property values is not an argument, either. You can also point out that it is not true that the inevitable result of allowing small flocks of chickens for eggs will result in neighborhood slaughterhouses, or the keeping of herds of pet giraffes. Unfounded worries and false claims do not good arguments make. Don't allow yourself to be flummoxed by unsupported arguments, and others listening to you will be more likely to see those false claims for what they are, too.

7 years ago

I understand all the points the article made but my neighbors don't take care of their flock. They also don't take care of their yard. The point about not lowering property values is not the same as being able to sell your home with a coop within 10 feet of your backyard. I'm guessing when the time comes for me to move, no one will want to buy my house no matter how much it costs. For the sake of the birds, I've called our local Animal Services (no HOA) and managed to get some shade over the pen area, but can't get bathing room (pan/water)for the solitary duck nor proper flooring for the chickens. Animal Services only goes so far for chickens. They follow the same ordinances for dogs - food, water and shelter. Anyway, just wanted to let others know that not all chicken owners are great neighbors.

7 years ago
Reply to  shar

Sorry to hear that, Shar! You were definitely right to call Animal Services if they're not receiving proper care. Yes, not all chicken owners are great neighbors, but not all dog owners are great neighbors, either. For example, a dog chained to a drafty little shack in a kennel filled with poop, who has access to a dirty puddle, and who is thrown leftovers every so often... that dog is still not receiving proper care, even though technically it receives food, water, and shelter. If you can, keep at Animal Services. Food, water, and shelter are certainly the bare necessities, but there has to be some concern for the quality of the care, too. But we don't think that because a person might neglect or abuse a dog means keeping dogs should be illegal. We think it means abuse and neglect statutes need enforced properly.

7 years ago

Lissa, our Animal Services ordinances are not written with specific requirements for chickens. There's nothing I can do about that, because that would require the ordinances be updated. But as to your example comparing dogs, AS requires a PROPER shelter; dogs cannot be chained; fecal matter cannot overrun the area the dog is in. Food, of course, can be a judgement call because an empty pan doesn't mean the dog wasn't fed. My mention of the basics was to avoid having to include the obvious that goes with the ordinances here and elsewhere. I know the point you were making to others (in your post to me), but I don't understand how making comparisons with other pets helps unless the City/County has appropriate ordinances for all allowed species. I won't be "keeping at" AS because unfortunately, my last few requested welfare checks were intercepted by the owner (how, is unknown) and the infraction was corrected before the Officer got there. After having the chickens and duck in a too small area, the owner is finally building a coop/run that, with unsolicited guidance after my first AS calls, may be a proper setting. Hopefully, this will be an end to the previous neglect and the animals will be fine.

7 years ago
Reply to  shar

I hope so, too. Perhaps a letter to the editor? It can be difficult to motivate city council members, I'm sure, but public attention is certainly one way. State statutes, and those should inform local statutes, are reasonably easy to access. I don't know what state you're in, but I am in WV... so as an example, here are WV's statutes regarding cruelty/neglect/abuse. They don't outline what specific care is needed, but that's because, as you point out, you'd then have to have ordinances for all species. But if you have a statute that reads similar to WV's--"If any person cruelly mistreats, abandons or withholds proper sustenance, including food, water, shelter or medical treatment, necessary to sustain normal health and fitness..."---then this is still something enforcement could look at. Again, I do recognize that sometimes folks really don't want to find anything wrong. I do hope that your neighbor's animals will be receiving proper care, though. Best wishes.

7 years ago

Hi Lissa,
I have had the pleasure to live on 20 acres with no one around me to complain about. We had chickens, cows, horses, pigs and a variety of crops on our land and ALL the WORK that goes along with it too. I moved back to the city over 15 yrs ago and live on a very postage size lot next to another postage size lot. We have less than 5ft between us and now they have chickens and they make a LOT of NOISE. The new neighbors moved in 2yrs ago and it's been one thing after another, noise wise. Previous to these very noisy people moving in I could sleep in until 10am if I so chose...I can only dream about it or move...which I cannot afford to do. Believe me if I could live back on 20 acres I would. I just thought that your statement to move to the country was very arrogant. Cities can be very quiet and honestly I don't mind my neighbors chickens that live across the street or down the street...and I can hear them too but they are not less than 8ft from my bedroom window and impact my sleep and health. Some people ignore rules and regulations and ignore how it might impact their neighbors...I think backyard chickens are fine but rules and regulations need to be followed and you should talk to your neighbors before getting chickens especially if they cannot provide the space or required zoning distance (which is 50ft in my town) from the neighboring dwellings. So now I get to be a bad guy to a 7yr old because her parents didn't read the regulations. Personally...I think chickens need space and the ability to roam but that's the old me on the 20 acres. The new me would be happy with the required 50'. I did enjoy reading your blog I just feel that there is a bit of inaccuracy. Chickens do make noise and they do smell even if you have a super clean pen. I think one just gets used to it 🙂

7 years ago
Reply to  Terrah

You must have skimmed over the part where I made it clear I thought it was arrogant, too: "Wait, you’re thinking that telling someone to move out of their home doesn’t seem like a real, workable solution to a problem? Really? Yeah, that’s right. It’s really stupid." In other words, that was a tongue-in-cheek statement. 🙂 I agree: chickens make noise just like other pets... and just like others, they don't produce unpleasant odors if you care for them properly. And that's my overall point: unless you're opposed to ALL pets, you can't be opposed to chickens (and be consistent), because chickens tend to make less mess and noise than other pets. Better some hens next door than barking dogs!

6 years ago

I read your article and put it into a packet for our city council to review. After having the police called on us, we am now in a battle to bring our girls home. Our 8yr. old son is in 4H and was planning on showing his hens. I started an FB page where you can keep tabs on our endeavor to save the girls, it is called "The Wilmington Hen House".

6 years ago


I meant to ask you for your blessing yesterday to use your awesome article in my comments to help our families endeavor to bring our girls home. Our sincere thanks to you.

The Hunding Family

6 years ago
Reply to  Robin Hunding

We're glad you printed it out for your city council, and hope it helps!

Cynthia Ganz
5 years ago

does anyone know if hens will go into water? I live on a lake, will have them in their own space, but if they get out will they go to the water?

5 years ago
Reply to  Cynthia Ganz

They will usually not go too deeply into water, although they may step in to cool their feet off or forage. So if you have a natural lake there is unlikely to be an issue (although if there are snapping turtles in your area, you might be concerned if your chickens are making themselves vulnerable!). Sometimes artificial ponds can present a problem, because they're more like pools with steep sides. If a chicken steps/falls into something like that, she may not be able to get back out again. It wouldn't hurt to just keep an eye on your flock and see how they interact with your body of water before determining everything is okay.

[…] factory farms…  they are not in factory farms because they are dirty, stinky and miserable. Chickens like to keep themselves clean and are naturally fastidious when given a clean […]

Kevin Adamson
2 years ago

I had no objections when my new neighbour asked if I minded if he kept a few Chickens ,live and let live and all that . He seems a nice enough fella bringing up a young family on his own but his few chickens has turned into a 20 strong chicken ranch and the stink ! .
Now we have had a wet winter and Im hoping things have just got a little damp on the other side of the fence but please any advice I can give him that will save me getting it in the earhole from her indoors would be great

2 years ago

Could I use parts of this page for a neighborhood flyer? I'm trying to change our HOA rules to allow chickens. Thanks!

Wendy Warnock
2 years ago

I have 5 hens at home, they are quiet, not destructive, and they eat insects and small rodents. I do live in the country but i think they should be allowed in the city. My property does not smell as I clean up after them when necessary. They are very interesting to watch and their eggs are so good.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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