Answers to Common Arguments Against City Chickens

IMPROCHICKEN

“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.

 

“Chickens are loud!”

The truth is that a flock of laying hens is actually quiet, far more quiet than dogs are. A hen will cackle or squawk when she lays an egg, but that occurs once a day—or less, depending on the breed and age of the hen, as well as the season.
The noise level for the squawk after egg laying is up to 70 decibels at its very loudest, (slightly above the volume of a flushed toilet). Contrast lawn mowers and barking dogs, which register at around 100 decibels – much louder than a few hens. Roosters can be loud, (about as loud as a barking dog) but they are not allowed in our initiative for this very reason. Roosters are not required for egg production.

“Chickens poop a lot and their poop carries disease!”

Very little solid waste is produced by chickens, and what is produced can be safely 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).
Chicken feces is far safer and disease free than the feces of carnivorous dogs and cats. 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 (like miniature goats!).

“Legalizing chickens will negatively affect property values”  

This is simply 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. 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. On the contrary there are articles from realtor magazines that state that the right to keep a small flock of chickens could actually attract people to buy.
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, baking, 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.
That’s why some of the most expensive and exclusive communities in the country allow small flocks of laying chickens. For example, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Chicago and Denver – 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.

“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.

One Response to Answers to Common Arguments Against City Chickens

  1. Suzi says:

    Well done! Facts are pesky things for those who want to use emotion to try to drive home their points.

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