In praise of roosters

I received the following defense of roosters.  This is in regards to proposed changes to the "keeping livestock" bylaws for rural residential neighborhoods.
 


As a Backyard Chicken Farmer with 16 chickens – 1 rooster and 15 hens – who has completed extensive research in small flock farming and has years of experience in raising backyard chickens, I offer the following thoughts and adjustments to the Proposed Zoning Bylaw Regulations:

Parcel Size

  • Adjust #2 from 500m to 2500m to 500m to 2000m.
  • Adjust #3 from 2500m to 4000m to 2000m to 4000m.

 

This reduction from 2500m to 2000m would fall more in line with actual property sizes and be less limiting.

Roosters
Adjust the complete ban of roosters to allowing 1 rooster, or 1 rooster per 12 hens.  
A small poultry flock is of great benefit to a rural setting, and a flock of 10-25 hens is incomplete without a rooster which serves 3 main purposes: defense, curtail negative hen behavior, and fertilization.

With my free range birds the rooster is the bodyguard for the flock – he will fend off hawks, owls and other predators.  The rooster is the ‘head of the family’. He watches over and maintains order in the flock – otherwise hens can cluck at and peck each other incessantly, even causing death. He fertilizes the eggs which enables a ‘broody’ hen to hatch baby chicks – a natural and economical way to maintain the flock.  Chicks raised and taught by their mother hen (rather than from an incubator) are calmer and more ‘free range savvy’.

One rooster is adequate for 10 to 12 hens. Flocks of 25 or more would be better serviced and maintained by 2 or more roosters.  Multiple roosters are only a problem when there are not enough hens to go around.

Education
I would be more than happy to share my experience and knowledge with any who care to learn more about backyard chicken farming, and especially ‘neighbourly’ chicken farming.

Comments

I absolutely disagree! I am a shift worker and my neighbors' rooster crows at all hours of the day and very early in the morning, waking me up and keeping me awake. I have to sleep during the day because I frequently work night shifts. I can still hear the rooster crowing even with ear plugs in and the AC on. This is driving me insane!! I can't stand the sound of the thing crowing, it goes on and on for up to an hour. The hens and rooster decimate their entire area, making it devoid of vegetation. Let's face it, they stink and their coop is downright ugly. Furthermore, the hens and rooster escape their enclosure quite often and come over to my property. This wouldn't be so bad, except that poultry is well known to carry salmonella and parasites in their feces. Salmonella is extremely toxic to horses (I have two) and colic caused by salmonella is sometimes fatal. If my horses become ill and/or die from salmonella poisoning, or contract one or more of the various parasites that chickens carry, who is going to pay the vet bill?

Some chicken owners are responsible, but some, like my neighbors, are really irresponsible. I have been trying to kindly encourage them to do something about the noise from their rooster for three months, to no avail. This has been the cause of a broken friendship and in fact it is now downright war. I will not stop until that thing and others like him are gone from my neighborhood. It's not fair to expect people to put up with the noise and stench in a regular neighborhood, or even in a small holdings situation where property sizes range from 1-3 acres. If I lose my job due to a mistake made because I'm overtired from sleep deprivation, who will pay my mortgage!?! If you want chicks to bring home because it's cool to have free range eggs, buy them from a registered farm (hens only) and build a suitable chicken coop which will protect them from predators. Manage them properly and there won't be any problems with henpecking.

We converged on this in the updated agricultural zoning bylaw:

[...] introducing chickens and honey bees as a permitted use in the low density residential zones (i.e. no more than 2 hives, no more than 5 chickens and no roosters);

See the bylaw update page on this issue for information about the process.

Roosters are no longer permitted in the zoning bylaw.  However, since the previous zoning bylaw was silent on roosters, people who have roosters are grandfathered--that is, they can continue to own the rooster.

 

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