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03/30/2018 / By Jayson Veley
Over the past few years, raising poultry has become immensely popular in the United States – more popular than it has been in quite some time. Naturally, given the power-hungry nature of those who claim to represent us, the government is continuously looking for ways to regulate this growing trend of food independence.
As noted by ScienceDaily.com, a study that was conducted by the University of California, Davis suggests that local ordinances and regulations are not doing enough to address human and animal health when it comes to raising backyard poultry. “Ironically, as people seek to take control over the way their food is grown, most ordinances fail to ensure basic health and welfare for birds and humans,” explained Catherine Brinkley, assistant professor of community and regional development in UC Davis’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Professor Brinkley is also the primary author of the study, which is entitled, “A Method for Guarding Animal Welfare and Public Health: Tracking the Rise of Backyard Poultry Ordinances” and was recently published in the Journal of Community Health.
The author of the study recommends that more laws should be enacted that mandate vaccinations (even though that would pose an even bigger threat to the health and well-being of those that would be affected by said law, and could potentially raise some constitutional issues), and establish manure management and general animal welfare regulations in urban and suburban areas similar to the policies that are commonly imposed on commercial chicken ranches. (Related: If you’re looking to start raising your own chickens, here’s a beginner’s guide to help you out.)
“Provisions governing animal slaughter and routine veterinary care are rare, presenting a concern for monitoring and intervening in public health crises,” the study goes on to say. “In addition, shelters anticipate higher poultry intakes, particularly as unwanted birds are turned loose to become strays.”
But while this study primarily focuses on introducing new laws and regulations as a means of combating what the author describes as a growing health issue, many believe it’s more about generating revenue. In most urban areas where the raising of backyard poultry is allowed, ordinances have usually been established on the local level, shaped by the citizens of that community. They commonly and adequately address the issues that normally come with raising chickens. For example, some communities ban roosters because of the noise they make that some people could see as annoying and disruptive. Removing roosters also prevents reproduction, keeping flock sizes small and manageable.
Back in 2015, a newspaper in the state of Connecticut reported that the town of Glastonbury had approved a regulation that the town council said at the time was meant to “properly control and minimize complaints” about raising poultry in residential neighborhoods.
The regulation, which passed by a 6-1 vote, banned roosters in residential lots of less than five acres and also limited the number of chickens individuals are legally allowed to raise depending on how much land they have. For those who have less than 1 acre, no more than ten chickens are allowed, and for those who live on between 1 and 5 acres, no more than 15. Lastly, the policy mandates that all chickens (including free-range birds) be kept in a chicken coop and fenced in.
“Down the road, this regulation will be self-policing,” explained Community Development Director Kenith E. Leslie. “People will get their chickens in order, quite frankly, and make this regulation work.”
By limiting the size of flocks, most health issues are a nonissue, as there usually aren’t any. Chickens, when raised correctly, are part of an ecosystem. They remain clean and healthy with space and proper food (which commercial operations don’t provide), and in return they fertilize the yard and keep bugs at bay. Foul rarely require medication or vaccines of any kind.
While the study that was put out by UC Davis may have addressed the need for more regulations and ordinances on raising backyard poultry as a means of minimizing health risks, it’s clear that the well-being of the citizens isn’t the only thing on the minds of these lawmakers. It’s not farfetched to say that many of these big government politicians are simply looking for a piece of the pie, so to speak, and what better way to collect money from hardworking Americans than by way of trivial and unnecessary regulations?
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