Legalize Backyard Hens in Des Plaines, IL

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Dear Elected City Officials,

We are requesting your approval to grant us, residents of the City of Des Plaines, the ability to raise hens on our property such as other local cities including Chicago, Deerfield, Highland Park, Oak Park, Evanston, Elgin, Brookfield, and Naperville.

We are asking for 2 to 8 hens per household (no roosters) for the following reasons:

  • Chickens are fun, friendly pets that offer educational value for children about where food such as eggs comes from
  • Their eggs can provide food security for families and opportunities for those wanting more sustainable food options
  • They lay healthier eggs compared to store-bought eggs
  • They give gardeners high-quality fertilizer
  • They control flies and other pests, not add to them, and dispose of weeds and kitchen scraps that otherwise might end up in the landfill

To address some myths regarding backyard hens:

Noise: The requested ordinance would only allow hens, not roosters. If you don’t have roosters, chickens aren’t noisy. Hens cluck and peep softly all day long, and then go to bed at dusk and remain quiet all night. A hen's cluck at its loudest is the same as a human conversation. Measurably quieter than a dog's bark, a baby's cry, lawnmowers, jet planes, and fireworks. 

Smell: A 40-pound dog creates .75 pounds of waste a day (imagine 2 red apples) while a single hen produces only .125 pounds of waste a day (imagine 7 cherries). While chicken waste makes for excellent fertilizer, dog waste is unusable. Also, the ordinance would require chickens to be kept in a “secure, well-maintained coop," ensuring a clean environment as well as security from predators. Just like any pet, smells are not an issue with regular care and cleaning. 

Disease: Small flocks have literally no risk of avian flu transmission to humans. Centers for Disease Control states on their website: “There is no need at present to remove a family flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian flu.” The 2006 Grain Report states: “When it comes to bird flu, diverse small-scale poultry is the solution, not the problem.” 

With regard to salmonella, chickens, like other common household pets—including dogs, turtles, and caged birds—can carry salmonella. For this reason, the CDC counsels that people should wash their hands after touching poultry, should supervise young children around poultry, and make sure that young children wash their hands after touching chicks or other live poultry. Therefore it is a food-handling sanitation problem, not an avian problem. Statistically according to the CDC, you have a .0002% chance of getting salmonella from hens. (Based on 795 verified cases per a US population of 327 million people)

Thank you for considering our request.