Friday, February 13, 2009

urban chickens now legal in Huntington, NY

Great to see that out on Long Island, the city of Huntington, NY (pop: 196,000; map) joins the ranks of urban chicken-friendly towns in America.

In fact, the Huntington town board has voted unanimously to allow urban chickens on residential properties in town.

The town code has the following guidelines:
  • no more than eight chickens in an area not visible from surrounding residences and streets (no front-yard urban chickens)
  • the coop must be cleaned daily and kept sanitary
  • the sole purpose of the chickens must be to supply organic eggs without use of pesticides or fertilizers
  • eggs cannot be sold
  • NO ROOSTERS
I think this is a great model for other cities to use in crafting their own urban chicken ordinances, as it gets to the heart of the matter: we're keeping urban chickens for eggs, not for slaughter.

When I can find it, I'll post the exact wording of the town code. I'm a little curious as to what happens to chickens in Huntington after they've out-lived their laying period...

5 comments:

Courtney said...

I really enjoy reading your blog and thinking of ways to make a difference in my community too. I was wondering, why is it best to discourage people from keeping chickens to slaughter and eat? I keep chickens for pets (and eggs) myself, so it's not something I *want* to do. I just want to be educated about the facts about why it would be bad to have a small roosterless flock, whether for eggs and/or meat.

Thomas Kriese said...

Hi Courtney! (thanks for the kind words about the blog)

I've come to adopt the keep them for eggs, not meat philosophy as I think it's an easier approach to use to convince squeamish council-folk and skeptical neighbors.

From what I can tell in 20 months of researching posts for this blog, the vast majority of aspiring urban chicken owners are in it for the eggs, the free fertilizer and pest control aspects of owning chickens. And the chickens are seen as (and cared for like) pets. The thought of eating a pet is, well, pretty icky.

So, why try and claim that right (to slaughter your pets) in bringing urban chickens back to town? Even I get squeamish thinking about what's to happen to Sophia and ZsuZsu when they get old.

Moreover, too many times I've seen in news stories the "as a kid we killed a chicken for dinner, and it was messy! we don't need that in our town!" invoked as a reason to deny passing urban chicken ordinances.

I've got all the respect in the world for those folks who are able to fully embrace the experience of raising chickens for eggs and meat. I'm just not one of them.

In looking for ways to help more and more people reclaim the right to own chickens in the city, I think it's prudent to take baby steps in making the change, and that means keeping roosters and slaughtering out of the equation.

Your thoughts?

Kateri said...

Yes, I grew up with slaughtering chickens and it is messy (didn't do it myself, but other family members did). I do not want to look out my backyard and see a neighbor killing a chicken (or anything else for that matter!). I would not be able to eat a chicken I raised myself (and actually, since getting my little flock of backyard hens, I'm having a hard time eating store bought chicken!), but I would not be opposed to someone raising meat chickens next door as long as they took them somewhere else to be slaughtered...

Courtney said...

I wonder if the current movement to eat food grown locally might help in the fight to allow urban chickens. Supporters of this philosophy might want to raise their own chickens for meat--even on the small scale of four to five hens--and help fight to update ordinances. I am in it for the eggs and pets, so it's not something I personally would fight for, but I wonder if in some towns it might help to ally with the eat-local groups to effect change. And for the sake of efficiency, it seems easier to combine the fight for both, not limit why urban chickens are raised, as long as they aren't a nuisance or mistreated (i.e., used for cockfighting, which should be fixed by the no rooster rule anyway). Sounds like in your experience the pet/egg route is the best way to go to persuade the reluctant, so perhaps that is the more pragmatic route and quickest way to change. Keep up the good fight!

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