Allow Chickens in the City of Lockport NY

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While many communities around Western New York begin to embrace the "new economy" of people providing for themselves, the City of Lockport remains entrenched in it's ways by refusing to allow the raising of chickens.  Conversations with my alderman over the last year have gone no where, citing "no interest or support from the council."

Unlike other municipalities, Lockport has the disallowance of chickens written right into the city charter.  That means that unless the public forces a vote on this issue, we will never be allowed to have chickens within city limits. (By the way, you can't have bees either)

As a home owner and tax payer in this city for the last 8 years, it's time we take a stand and ask the City to do what the residents are requesting.

A sampling of other cities that allow chickens:
City of Buffalo
City of Rochester
Town of Amherst
Town of Alden
New York City (yes, even New York City)
And many many more cities, towns and villages across New York State.

MYTHS ABOUT URBAN CHICKENS

MYTH:  Chickens are noisy

FACT:  The main rule for keeping urban chickens is "NO ROOSTER ALLOWED."  Hens do not make a ruckus in the morning like their male counterparts and they are fast asleep in their coop by the time the sun goes down.  You do not need a rooster to have eggs.  Roosters are only need if you want to have fertilized eggs for baby chicks.  Hens make a soft clucking noise that is less noisy than a barking dog.

 

MYTH:  Chickens are messy & smelly

FACT:  Chickens themselves do not smell.  It is only their feces that has the potential to smell which is also true of dogs, cats, rabbits or any other animal that is outside.  www.pacshell.org/projects/petwasterinfo.htm#facts

 

A 4lb laying hen produces 0.0035 cubic foot of manure per day.  According to the FDA, an average dog generates 3/4 lb of manure a day that cannot be composted because of the harmful bacteria and parasites of roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms.  This waste is considered a major source of bacterial pollution in urban watersheds.  Dog waste contains higher concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus than cows, chickens or pigs and is a major contributor of excessive nutrients that flow into ground and surface waters through runoff from city sidewalks and laws.  www.csld.edu/downloads/sussman

 

The reason people fear an odor problem is because their only experience with chickens, if they have any at all, is on a farm or commercial poultry operation.  Under these circumstances, hundreds if not thousands of chickens are sometimes kept in crowded conditions with poor ventilation and without proper cleaning.

 

MYTH:  Chickens attract rodents/predators

FACT:  The truth is that rodents already exist where you live and are attracted to any unprotected food source like bird seed, dog food, cat food, open trash cans, fruit trees, and even koi ponds.  Their are preventative measures (chicken feed containers and coop designs) to nearly eliminate this concern.

 

MYTH:  Backyard chickens will decrease property value.

FACT:  There is absolutely no evidence that keeping pet hens within the ordinance guidelines would have any affect on property values.  This is a property rights issue and while it is necessary to protect neighbors from any potential nuisance, homeowners should have as much freedom from government interference.  Major cities like Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver support backyard chicken keeping.  Actually, chickens can be kept in a yard so inconspicuously, that it may not be apparent that chickens are even around.  A backyard chicken coop housing 6-8 does not create the odor issue that is concerning some residents.

 

MYTH:  Chickens will create a health hazard.

FACT:  In the US, there is no need at present to remove a flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian influenza.  Research shows that there are actually more diseases that can be spread from dogs and cats than from chickens.  Chickens can actually keep your yard healthier because they eat ticks and insects.

 

MYTH:  A chicken coop is an eyesore

FACT:  City coops are typically small, clean and attractive because people love their pets and live in close proximately to them.  Attractive and inexpensive coop designs are available on various websites for those who are not able to build their own. 

 

MYTH:  Backyard chicken keeping is a fad

FACT:  Chickens have been domesticated since 10,000bc and have played an important part of life ever since.  Many of our grandparents had victory gardens and knew how to grow vegetables, can food, and raised their own chickens.  Raising 6-8 hens in the backyard is a tremendous opportunity for parents to teach their children about the responsibility that comes with caring for a pet and because of their small size and friendly demeanor, young children can easily handle hens without fear of being bitten.

 

Backyard chickens and sustainability -  Better food source for eggs.  While the nutritional superiority of organic and homegrown eggs vs. conventional store-bought eggs may be debatable, it is certainly true that the harmful effects of antibiotics, hormones, or other chemical additives would be avoided with homegrown eggs.  Compost/fertilizer- Chicken manure is a sought after fertilizer, and chicken litter (the wood shavings on the bottom of a coop to absorb droppings) provide a weekly addition of about 4lbs of organic material from the average backyard flock of 6 hens.  Even if there is no compost pile, chicken droppings or chicken litter may be placed directly around trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables, or other plants as general organic fertilizer.  Food waste consumption - Backyard chickens delight in eating vegetable scraps from the kitchen.  All types of fruit and vegetable discards can be diverted to the chickens instead of to the trashcan or garbage disposal.  In many cases, it may be preferable to feed such discards to chickens rather than composting where they may attract rodents.  Insect and weed control - If chickens are allowed to roam a small backyard lawn even for a short period, they can perform the useful tasks of weed and insect removal.  Weeds with seeds are a prime target for chicken grazing.  In the spring, chickens will feed especially on dandelions, chick weed, and other low seed-bearing weeds to help the laws.  Mosquitos have reduced chance in shallow water exposed to chickens since the birds will feast on the insects in addition to disturbing the larvae.  Low inpact pet - Contrary to their commercially raised counterparts, backyard chickens are a decidedly easy to care for pet.  A two-gallon water supply will last almost a week in average weather for a flock of 6, and chicken feed is cheap.  Potential energy product - Although not commonly part of the backyard chicken cycle of sustainable events, chicken litter can be used as a fuel source in some types of wood burning stoves.  Commercially, chicken litter is pelletized for fertilizer or pellet burning stoves.  Flock role in a backyard ecosystem - Backyard chickens can be part of a larger backyard ecosystem not only in their feeding, grazing and waste recycle roles, but by being a component in a symbiotic relationship with other pets, namely dogs.  "Guarding" the flock can be perceived as a job for the herding dog and can distract those hyperactive dogs from other annoying behaviors.  In return, the dogs will definitely deter crows, hawks or other predators from lighting the yard.



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