One Rooster Allowed

May 10, 2011

Well, we knew that it was going to be inevitable.  Barnstable now has a law regarding chickens.  With the popular trend of gentleman farming and people starting to keep backyard flocks of their own, it only took a few careless chicken keepers to force the hand of the lawmakers in the Town of Barnstable.  With the assistance and guidance of the Barnstable Agricultural Commission, a new law regarding poultry keeping in the town was passed and will become effective come the beginning of June 2011.

Complaints have been few but those that have occurred have been difficult for mediators and town officials to resolve without having any laws to assist them with their efforts.  Noise caused by roosters has been the issue.  Can you believe that people in our town have gone so far as to tape record their rooster’s crowing and play it back to the neighbors at extreme volumes?  Well, it happened.  So, now we have new regulations.

The new regulation is only in regard to roosters.  There are no laws or restrictions to keeping a flock of hens in your backyard.  You can continue to keep your flock.  The new law will enforce individuals living on less than 5 acres to only keep 1 rooster.  Unless you live on 2 acres or more and can show $1000 farming profit on your property, you cannot keep more than one.  All rooster will need to be housed and locked up between the hours of 7pm and 7am.  In addition, there are similar guidelines for noise complaints based upon the Dog Noise Ordinance in the town. 

The law no longer applies to Tilly’s Nest as we have rehomed Chocolate, but I must say that he became incredibly symbolic to me while we tried to reach a fair and reasonable ordinance.  He represented backyard roosters.  We practiced good rooster management and our neighbors adored him.  He was one of the reasons why I became involved and eventually became a member of the Agricultural Commission.   It was important for me to make sure that people who were considerate with their rooster would be able to keep them and not be penalized for the behavior of a few bad eggs.


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12 thoughts on “One Rooster Allowed”

  1. One bad apple spoils the whole bunch….. but honestly? The ordinance seems fair to me. We once lived in town, on a small lot. Although we are usually "awake before the chickens", it may have been disturbing to hear a rooster crowing all day and night. It's wonderful Barnstable won't be restricting keeping hens. As much as I love my roosters, I would not keep them if I knew they were disturbing peace for neighbors only a few feet away. It makes me sad a few renegade rooster owners ruined it for the entire population, but I think you should be proud to live in a town that appears to be reasonable.

    Just my 1 cent worth.

  2. I am sorry to hear this happened. This brings me to a question though (related, but unrelated at the same time). One of my chicks has turned out to be a rooster…he's an Easter Egger (will be full-size), and I have a Bantam hen. Will this be safe for my little Banty?

  3. I don't agree with this ordinance. I'd rather hear a rooster than a leaf blower, a weed whacker, a snow-blower, or the rest of the gasoline-wasting, fume-spewing contraptions folks think are obligatory to keep their lawn looking like a putting green and their driveway free of any speck of organic material. Thankfully I live in the country and I have roosters, peafowl, a goose, ducks, and Guineas that sound like a death-metal band. I also have a livestock guardian dog that barks! I'd rather listen to all of them than the endless whine of the Chem-lawn crew.

    Incidentally, I have a silkie rooster, Frank, who looks just like Chocolate. Just found your blog and love it!

  4. Martha, I actually agree with you but it was a fine line to walk. They almost outlawed roosters entirely except for farms! Frank is adorable! I had to recently rehome Chocolate as he was going after my 4 year old daughter. I blogged about it a few posts ago, "Saying Goodbye". My posts were missing from the blogger incident.
    Thank you for the lovely comments and I hope to see you here often!

  5. Tilly,
    I live in Centerville and thought I read on the internet earlier this year, when we began keeping a flock, that you could only have 10 backyard chickens in Centerville. So we bought 7. But now someone wants to give us 5 more. Do you know anything about this law? I can't seem to find it online now? Did I misread? Is there a limit? Thanks.

    • Sure, there is no restriction to the number of hens that you can keep on your property, as long as you do it responsibly and do not take on too many given your space requirements. The only current law at the time I write this comment is in regards to roosters. You can only have one if you are on less than 2 acres of land.


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.