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Letter to the Editor: Backyard Chicken Supporters Cry Fowl!


Dear Editor,


Manatee C.L.U.C.K. supporters wish to see the County Commissioners amend the current laws that only allow residents to keep hens for their personal use on property zoned Agricultural. In a county as diverse as Manatee, this means only a very small number of residents with large Agricultural zoned properties could own a hen as a pet. Most surrounding counties and cities have already amended their laws to allow hens and have had no increase in issues or complaints from neighbors. The county should be promoting self-sustainability, and allowing citizens to exercise their freedom to provide for their own families. Some may oppose this forward change, but their arguments are usually based upon misconceptions rather than fact. If we are to have an educated conversation to solve this debate then we must make certain that it is one based upon truths and not fears.

Argument:  Chickens are dirty and smelly.

Fact: The average dog produces 12 ounces of solid waste per day. The average chicken produces 1.5 ounces per day. Six chickens produce the same waste as a medium house cat. Pet hens are far less likely to spread diseases than your cats and dogs. According to the CDC, backyard hens are the preferred way to STOP the spread of illnesses, such as avian flu and salmonella, as they are a healthier alternative to large, densely populated factory farms, which contribute to such problems.

Argument: Chickens will damage property values.

Fact:  There are numerous cities across the country that allow backyard hens, and real estate figures show that property values have been unaffected by the passing of ordinances related to the keeping of urban hens. New York, Portland, Chicago, Seattle, Raleigh-NC, Savannah,  and Boulder–cities with some of the HIGHEST and most solid property values in the country–encourage backyard hens. 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

Argument: Chickens are noisy neighbors.

Fact: The noise level for the squawk after egg laying is up to 65 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 (none of which are banned!) A barking dog registers at around 100 decibels, and a pet parrot as loud as 135 decibels---far louder than a few hens. Yes, roosters are loud---no one is asking for roosters.

Argument: People who want hens should just move to the country.

Fact: 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. Telling someone to move out of their home is not a real, workable solution to a problem.  Even if you moved to "the country", the manner in which Manatee ordinances are currently written, the odds of you being able to own hens legally on your property is slim.  

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. It is time the Manatee Commissioners listen to its constituents. Manatee CLUCK has been seeking this change for nearly two years. Allow us the chance to prove the naysayers wrong.

Natalie French

Manatee County
Manatee C.L.U.C.K. (Citizens Lobbying for Urban Chicken Keeping) supporter


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