Tag / banning roosters

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

One Rooster Allowed

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.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

The Inevitable

When is a rooster mean?  I am not sure that it is entirely easy to draw a line in black and white.  How much does nature and hormones play in their actions?  Can a rooster suddenly turn mean?

I guess I have been thinking about these things lately because Chocolate, for better or worse, is starting to really get more aggressive over these past two weeks.  I can still grab him and hold him. He sits quietly and seems to enjoy my affection.  However, he is really becoming very territorial with his girls.

I can say that all the girls respect me.  They understand that I am the human leader of the flock.  They are curious to see me, giddy almost, and the conversations that ensue as I make my way over to the coop are priceless.  On the other hand, Chocolate does not appear to be so thrilled.

About a week ago, I was going into the nesting boxes to collect the eggs.  All of a sudden Chocolate came storming into the coop.  He had has wings extended outward and fire in his eyes.  I felt like I was going to be dealt with by the rooster.  I was entering his house.  I narrowly escaped his fury by quickly closing the nesting box.

These past few weeks, he has been asserting his dominance with me; dancing his rooster dance trying to let me know that he is the boss.  I was truly nervous when I had to go into the run myself.  I thought that if I bent over for a second, he would surely have his rooster feet implanted into my backside.  His need for humpty love is becoming insatiable. I feel bad for the girls. Finally, today as I was retrieving the waterers for cleaning and refilling, I was pecked. 

My heart is heavy.  Chocolate is just being a rooster.  In my heart of hearts, I feel as if we may have to rehome him soon.  I know that his fate may not be nice and that saddens me.  I am still dealing emotionally with rehoming Peanut. I would love for Chocolate to live a long full life.  Unfortunately, it does not come easy for me.  I am not a farmer.  These chickens are our pets.

I have to come to terms with the reality of the issue at hand.  I think it is now safe to say that I’m pretty sure the answer is not if the time comes, but when.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Roosters in Barnstable

Two nights ago, roosters in the Town of Barnstable were met with more debate.  Fresh from the town’s attorney, the Agricultural Commission was presented with another draft of the inevitable law.  Interestingly enough, some parts were entirely different than what were discussed at the last meeting this past December.

The beginning of this new draft was similar to local right to farm laws.  The new draft would allow individuals other than farms (over 5 acres) to keep 1 rooster at any given time.  If you have between 2-5 acres and could prove $1000 profit/acre than you could be considered a farm.  This would provide you with the ability to keep more than 1 rooster.
The second portion of the law went on to read as follows:
“The rooster would be kept in between the hours of 7pm to 7am in a fully enclosed structure impervious to light and weather, separate from all dwellings and set back at least 50 feet from all boundary lines.”

The majority of members on the commission agreed unanimously that this second portion should read as follows:
 “The rooster would be kept in between the hours of 7pm to 7am in a fully enclosed structure.” 

They recommended eliminating the remainder of the clause because it prevents individuals from practicing good livestock management.  Chickens, roosters or hens, need to have fresh circulating air at all times.  In regards to the 50 feet, if the rooster is quiet, the setback is not an issue.  The remaining portion of the law does include a noise nuisance clause.  This would regulate noise that is 150 feet from the rooster’s dwelling and continuous noise lasting over 10 minutes.  A three strike fining rule for each violation remained.

Slowly but surely this law is going to come to fruition. I want it to be fair to roosters.  Crowing roosters should have the same rights as barking dogs.  At times they are both capable of annoying the neighbors.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

A Letter to the Editor

I was recently interviewed by a local paper about keeping roosters in Barnstable, MA.  I felt that what I stated in the interview to the reporter was not clearly conveyed in the article.  So, I wrote the editor a letter.  I hope it will be published in this Friday’s paper.  I’m crossing my fingers!
Dear Editor,
I had the pleasure of being interviewed for an article by James Kinsella that was published on December 24, 2010 about roosters in the town of Barnstable.  However, after reading the article, I felt that I was not represented entirely correctly.
The closing line of the article said that I felt raising roosters “should not only be for the rich.”  This quote was taken out of context and the remainder of what I discussed was not presented in the article.  Initially, the draft form of the proposed rooster ordinance would require individuals keeping roosters to live on two acres or more of land.  Through urban planning and zoning within the town of Barnstable, many people do not live on more than one acre.  Affordable lots of land two acres or more in Barnstable are scarce.   Thus because of the high cost of land in the town of Barnstable, it would, in my opinion make owning a rooster something that only the rich could afford.
I also feel that keeping a rooster was made into a very black and white subject.  In my opinion, it is a gray area.  I believe that roosters can be a disturbance.  I also believe that if there are situations that cannot be remedied, then the rooster must be rehomed.  Owning a noisy rooster requires the owner to be more responsible than just raising hens.  The owner is responsible for controlling the noise of their animal if it is found to be an annoyance to those around them.
Keeping roosters is not for everyone.  We ended up with our rooster accidentally.  Our she turned out to be a he.  We did not discover this until he was 20 weeks old.  We became attached to him.  We quickly discovered he serves a purpose in the flock.  He acts as a protector to the hens.  He also enables us to raise chicks if we so desire.  By hatching our own chickens, we avoid ordering chicks from out of state hatcheries and potentially introducing foreign diseases into our current flocks.  It also keeps raising chickens local.
Through keeping hens and a rooster, my family has learned many valuable lessons.  We have learned about the roles of the hens and the rooster.  We’ve learned the lifecycle of the chicken.  We have learned about the importance of knowing where food comes from.  We are eating eggs from our local organically fed chickens.  We have also learned lessons in responsibility and see our chickens as members of our family. 
Thank you for your time.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

I Am A Rooster Advocate

I have become quite the advocate for roosters’ rights in the Town of Barnstable.  As you know, I went to the Barnstable Agricultural Commission meeting a few weeks ago, and boy, have I been busy entertaining all sorts of questions.  I have been contacted by both the Barnstable Patriot and the Barnstable Enterprise for interviews.  I have also had the pleasure of meeting many people along the way that also have a love for roosters.

I’m not quite sure how I got in the middle of this in the first place.  I have been giving that question a lot of thought lately.  I think that I have my answer now.  Interestingly enough, before my life as a Cape Codder, a mother of two and a lover of all things chicken, I lived in a large city on the West Coast.  I was in the fast paced world of academic medicine.  I wore many hats as an educator, lecturer, professor, mentor, advocate and researcher in my field of nursing.

As a little girl, I was always a nurturer.  I was concerned when I saw people being bullied.  I was awkward as a child and a move across town and then the country did not help.  I was shy, quiet and an observer in life.  In eighth grade, I got hit with a double whammy; large eighties style glasses and braces!  I toed the line.  I was never one for my parents to worry about.  I was a good student and I stayed out of trouble.  I was a child who always looked out for others and wanted so much to please my parents.

Interestingly, I was drawn to nursing.  I attended one of the top schools in the country and there I emerged from my shell.  I owe my education much credit for the person that I metamorphosed into today.  I became a strong voice, confident, articulate and able to advocate for the patients against the toughest meanest old-school physicians while caring for my patients.  I was no longer shy or quiet.  In fact, I was quite the opposite when it came to advocating for those patients who could not do it for themselves.  I advocated for gang members, homeless, drug addicts, abused elderly and children.  I was a voice for all and I was not afraid what anyone else would think.  They were all that mattered in their times of need.

Our move to be closer to family and seek a quieter slower paced life for our children, lead us to life on Cape Cod.  I traded in nursing for motherhood and sat back, relaxed and began to enjoy watching my children grow. 

Chocolate, our rooster, is a huge part of our chicken family and we all adore him.  I think that my nursing background kicked in when we were told that there was a possibility that we could not keep him.  He did not have a voice.  He could not go to the town and tell them that he was just doing what came natural.  He needed a voice and I sprang to action.  Here we are today, with another article slated to come out that I was just interviewed for last week.  I answered so many basic questions that the reporter asked as he tried to grasp a basic understanding of chickens.  I felt proud to speak on behalf of these amazing creatures.  I am their voice.  I am their advocate.  I understand them and I hope to help others understand them too.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Barnstable Rooster Ordinance Update

I am so glad that I went to the meeting last night regarding the rooster regulations in the town of Barnstable.  I was happy to see that seven other residents from town were there too, all in the defense of their roosters.   Apparently, the rooster subject is not a new one.  The Barnstable Agricultural Commission has been working on this for a while with one of our town council members.  There have been some legitimate complaints about noise from roosters across town.  However, there are no laws pertaining to roosters in town.  Without an ordinance specifically for roosters, the town is unable to control some volatile situations that have arisen in neighborhoods.

I felt like we came to this meeting just in time.  Last night, a town council member brought the draft of a rooster ordinance that was to be voted on and perhaps implemented at last night’s meeting.  However, due to public comments and concerns, the ordinance as presented and drafted was edited and will be go back to the town and legal counsel for revision.

Initially the rooster ordinance introduced last night, although vague and broad, left a few of us with an uneasy feeling in our stomachs.  The rooster ordinance basically had three key items.  In layman terms, they were as follows:

1.  Any person with a rooster must have at least 2 acres of land

2.  The rooster must be plainly audible from 150 feet or less from the complaint site.

3.  There is a three strike fining component before there is any other action.

The meeting lasted for two hours.  After much contemplation and debate, the Barnstable Agricultural Commission decided on striking that 2 acres of land are required for a rooster.  They also struck the wording “or less” and made it just 150 feet.  They are also planning on clarifying what happens after you have had 3 strikes. 

So for now, the rooster ordinance draft, will go back to to the town’s legal counsel for rewording and reappear in a new form at the next Barnstable Agricultural Commission scheduled for January 2011.  The most interesting twist of the evening came when the commission personally invited me to apply for the vacant seat on the commission.  Isn’t it funny how life just sorts itself out?  Last night I was definitely in the right place at the right time.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Updates from the Coop

Well it has now been about a week since Dolly, Autumn and Meesha were introduced to the flock.  The transition has been surprisingly smooth.  They are quickly reestablishing a new pecking order.  I think that Feathers is the happiest.  She is no longer at the bottom of the order.  She is even doing a little pecking herself.  When I do notice the pecking, it is rather gentle, much like a reminder.

Chocolate is thrilled.  He is no longer as bossy to the girls and he seems to be content.  He now has seven girls to harrass at any given time.  He has shown off his rooster dance to every girl.  However, none seem the slightest bit interested.  Instead, they just go about their business.  As far as I know, he has not tried to hop on anyone’s back yet.

Tilly still is head hen.  I’m glad.  She is maternal-like to the new girls.  It is nice to see.  She will peck them now and then but it is usually to say, “Hey I’m standing here at the water.  I will not move but you are welcome to stand next to me.”

We have also had 2 silkie eggs laid.  I scooped another one out this morning.  I think it is Dolly that is laying.  I am hoping that she will influence the others to lay soon.  They should start anyday now.  It is really just a waiting game.

Finally, tomorrow night is the Barnstable Agricultural Commission meeting regarding rooster regulations for the town of Barnstable.  I have done my best to rally together all the chicken owners that I know.  We are sure to attend.  I am thinking that I will mostly observe at first and try and gauge people’s postitions on the matter.  Wish me luck!

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Banning Roosters

I looked on-line this morning to see if anything was going on about keeping roosters in the town of Barnstable.  There was a lot of talk this summer about roosters disrupting the peace.  Thus, I have been diligently monitoring the local newspaper.  Lo and behold, while on-line, I saw it.   My stomach started churning.  Just as I foresaw, the town’s Agricultural Commission is having a meeting next week and roosters are on the agenda.