Urban Chicken Keeping Myths

As a follow up to our article, Changing Local Backyard Chicken Ordinances, we wanted to provide you with more information that might sway those in your community who might be wary about allowing backyard flocks.

Myth 1. Chickens carry diseases communicable to humans.
Fact: The truth is that small flocks have literally no risk of avian flu transmission to humans. The 2006 Grain Report states: “When it comes to bird flu, diverse small-scale poultry is the solution, not the problem.” Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states on their website: “There is no need at present to remove a (family) flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian flu.”

Myth 2. Chickens are too noisy.
Fact: Laying hens—at their loudest—have about the same decibel level as human conversation (60 to 70 decibels). Hens are so quiet that there have been cases of family flocks being kept for years without the next door neighbors knowing it.

To some, noise is a concern with roosters and their early-morning crowing. Many urban codes ban roosters, or only allow them to be kept with special permits. The noise level of a rooster’s crow is about the same as a barking dog; 90 decibels.

Myth 3. Chickens cause waste and odor.
Fact: A 40-pound dog generates more solid waste than 10 chickens. To be more specific, one 40-pound dog generates about .75 pounds of poop every day. Ten chickens generate about .66 pounds daily poop.

The advantage to chicken poop is that it can be used as valuable, high-nitrogen fertilizer. Unlike dog or cat poop, chicken poop can be combined with yard and leaf waste to create compost. Just as valuable, about 40% of the chicken manure is organic matter necessary for building fertile, healthy topsoil.

Myth 4. Chickens attract predators, pests and rodents.
Fact: Predators and rodents are already living in urban areas. Wild bird feeders, pet food, gardens, fish ponds, bird baths and trash waiting to be collected all attract raccoons, foxes, rodents and flies. Chickens are voracious carnivores and will seek out and eat just about anything that moves including ticks (think Lyme disease), fleas, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, stink bugs, slugs, and even mice, baby rats and small snakes.

Myth 5. Property values will decrease.
Fact: There is not one single documented case that we know of about a next door family flock that has decreased the value of real estate. On the contrary, local foods and living green is so fashionable, that some realtors and home sellers are offering a free chicken coop with every sale.

Myth 6. Coops are ugly.
Fact: Micro-flock coop designs can be totally charming, upscale and even whimsical. Common design features include blending in with the local architectural style, matching the slope of the roof and complementing color schemes.

Myth 7. My neighbors will think I’m nuts.
Fact: You can’t control what anyone thinks, much less your neighbor.

Once folks gain more experience with the advantages and charms of chickens, most prejudice and fear evaporates; especially when you share some of those fresh, heart-healthy, good-for-you eggs from your family flock.

There is one huge advantage to family flocks that is often overlooked during chicken debates. That is their role and value in solid waste management systems. Chickens, as clucking civic workers, are biomass recyclers and can divert tons of organic matter from the trash collection and landfills.

Chickens will eat just about all kitchen “waste.” They love people food, even those “gone-by” leftovers that have seasoned in the refrigerator. Combine their manure with grass clippings, fallen leaves and garden waste, and you create compost. Composting with chicken helpers keeps tons of biomass out of municipal trash collection systems.

All this can save big time taxpayer dollars, which is especially valuable in these times of stressed municipal budgets.

Once you successfully change the hearts and minds of your community members, consider a Henny+Roo subscription for monthly deliveries of treats, supplies, and gifts. Learn more at: hennyandroo.com

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