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Should Backyard Chickens Be Legal in Urban Areas?

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Two years ago Providence followed a national trend and became one of the first urban areas in Rhode Island to legalize raising small backyard chicken flocks.  Residents for the first time were able to raise up to six chickens and have the benefit of eating fresh eggs.  Recently, Cranston’s Mayor Allan Fung vetoed an ordinance similar to Providence's  that would allow residents to raise small backyard flocks, posing the question: should backyard chickens be legal in urban areas? What are the benefits and concerns about backyard chickens?

Benefits:
There are several good reasons why you should look into raising your very own backyard chickens.

  1. Eggs from backyard chickens are healthier.
  2. Eggs from backyard chickens are tastier.
  3. Chickens are natural defenders against insects: they will protect your yards!
  4. You know where you're getting your eggs from!
  5. Chicken compost (high in nitrogen) is awesome for your yard and garden!
  6. Children can learn the responsibility of raising chickens
  7. They’re fun to raise, learn about and even watch in the yard!

With these reasons and more, there is enough evidence to see why many urban areas are hopping on the trend of making it legal to raise backyard chickens.  Now on to the concerns of raising chickens not only in urban areas but in general.

Concerns:

  1. Noise (If you have a rooster you know how this feels.)
  2. Expenses
  3. Smell
  4. Damage to soil or garden
  5. Predators

These can be pretty big concerns, and I didn’t even list why Cranston vetoed the ordinance.  Cranston has had a rat problem over the last couple of years, and many residents are concerned that with more backyard chickens, the bigger the rat population could get.  Three major factors found that residents and the mayor thought would be deal-breakers were: rats, noise and property values. 

Noise is an obvious complaint of neighborhoods and this would only happen if owners raise roosters.  The last argument is property values of homes and whether or not it deters buyers from owning a home next to one that raises chickens.  Warren and Barrington both passed ordinances recently allowing owners to raise chickens.  Many other house markets in Rhode Island allow the ownership of chickens.  As stated in the Providence Business Journal, “The fact that chickens are legal in many of the state’s hottest property markets would seem to point to flocks now being considered desirable by potential buyers.”

So what do you think? Should they be legal? Please comment and let us know what you think of the issue!

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Stella Markey January 13, 2013 at 02:24 PM
The only purpose for the rooster is to have more chicks. They are not necessary for egg laying. And they can be quite mean. Usually a neighbor who owns one and doesn't care about disturbing those around them is not very nice either!!
Ted Geisel January 14, 2013 at 01:20 PM
Stella, it sounds like you were in a horrible situation. From what you have said though it sounds like you have a jerk neighbor problem. Have they tried to terrorize you since then? I have a neighbor who takes off on his loud (but stock) motorcycle early in the morning most summer days. I don't have a motorcycle problem though. I have a neighbor that is a jerk. Take away the rooster and they'll play loud music, take that away and they'll have their dog defecate in your yard, take away their dog... you get the idea. One other important thing to note is that in RI if you want to buy baby chicks you need to buy at least a dozen to comply with RI law. While it is possible to buy a dozen and then split them with someone else this law does tend to lend itself to larger flocks. I do realize however that many people just ignore the law.
Barbara January 15, 2013 at 08:12 PM
I would love to have a backyard flock, but am in an area of NK where we have frequent coyote sightings, as well as fisher cats.
Stella Markey January 16, 2013 at 01:23 PM
To Ted, yes I have a crazy neighbor and I've been through the loud music, parties, a motorcycle, etc. but at least there are concrete laws that can stop that type of thing. Roosters should be regulated and are in most communities (thank goodness). And to Barbara, yes they bring in the fishers and coyotes. We had to change a pack of coyotes away about a month ago, they were right in the yard making an awful racket. And they do bring rats (my dog got one) but in the country that's not as bad as in a town like Cranston where there is a rat problem.
THE PREGNANT CHICKEN January 18, 2013 at 01:04 AM
as long as they are cared for properly and control the number [ no roosters] a few backyard chickens are an excellent educational experience ,and you can"t beat fresh eggs ,I have had several dozen chickens for 15 plus years on half acre -+ without any rat problem due to proper feed storage.a secure hen house and run will deter any predators.

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