Q & A

FUD

Will having chickens in my backyard attract rodents?

It is food that attracts rodents, not the birds. If you have wild bird feeders in your back yard, you run the same risk. Keep all feed in metal garbage cans, with secure lids. Feed birds in small doses, so as not to have a large amount of food left over. If you feed your birds scraps/ protein, make sure it is eaten and not left in the bedding.

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Are chickens dirty animals? Do they smell?

That will depend on the caretaker. Just like any other pet or animal, they need care–cleaning out the dirty bedding in the coop, keeping it dry and having a clean/dry area of sand or dirt for the birds to take dust bathes in. These practices will all help to keep your birds happy, healthy and odor free.

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Do hens make a lot of noise?

Contrary to popular belief, a backyard hen is not a loud animal. In fact, hens make less noise than a barking dog or a typical song bird. Because hens are social animals, they will talk amongst themselves at a volume of 20-40 decibels, less than the same volume of human conversational speech at 60 decibels. Accounting for distance between hearer and hen, the level is even less. At most, a chicken will briefly make 70 decibels of noise once or twice in a day. Air conditioners are in the 50-75 decibel range. So some air conditioning units are noisier, and for longer, than the loudest chickens.

Ironically, residents of Escambia County may own a Moluccan Cockatoo, which is easily purchased from Petland. These birds can produce sounds at 135 decibels, equaling the second loudest crowd noise ever recorded at a college football stadium.

Hens never crow. However, a hen will announce the arrival of a freshly laid egg, which occurs once every 24 to 36 hours during daylight hours. Because roosters are known to be loud, the current proposed ordinance would prohibit roosters.

To put an even finer point on it, below is a reference of decibel levels typical to home environments. If the goal of suburban living is uninterrupted, blissful silence, we should consider banning things like human conversation, sewing machines, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, alarm clocks, TVs and coffee grinders before considering banning backyard hens.

Sound levels of common noises
Sound
Level
(db)
Noise Source   Sound
Level
(db)
Noise Source
50 Refrigerator   65 – 80 alarm clock
50 – 60 electric toothbrush   70 TV audio
50 – 75 washing machine   70 – 80 coffee grinder
50 – 75 air conditioner   70 – 95 garbage disposal
50 – 80 electric shaver   75 – 85 flush toilet
55 coffee percolator   80 pop-up toaster
55 – 70 dishwasher   80 doorbell
60 human conversation   80 ringing telephone
60 sewing machine   80 whistling kettle
60 – 85 vacuum cleaner   80 – 90 food mixer, processor or blender
60 – 95 hair dryer  110  baby crying

 

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What is FUD?

FUD stands for Fear, uncertainty and doubt. It is a tactic used in sales, marketing, public relations, politics and propaganda.

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Myth: Chicken coops are smelly

As with domestic dogs and cats, a poorly maintained habitate has the potential to become odorous. In general, a hen is not inherently unsanitary or “smelly.” Often when someone refers to how poorly chickens smell, they are referencing the oder from an industrial farm where a build up of ammonia occurs. A properly built coop with ventilation and adequate space, in addition to routine cleaning, would eliminate the potential of foul odor.

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Myth: “You can’t eat the egg if it doesn’t come from a store”

Truth: Fresh eggs from a backyard are edible and far more nutritional than the conventional egg bought at the store. See the nutritional values below:

  • 4-6 times more vitamin D
  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene

Read about the Mother Earth News egg testing project.

 

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Myth: Having hens is going to have a negative impact on sanitation.

Truth: A properly maintained coop will not have an odor. The composted manure is a beneficial fertilizer for the garden. Additionally, chickens can be fed kitchen scraps, even scraps that cannot be directly composted, therefore, decreasing municipal solid waste.

In comparison to the average dog, producing ¾ pound of manure a day, the average hen produces 1-3.5 ounces of manure per day. While dog waste cannot be composted due to the potential of infecting humans with trichinosis, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, giardia and coccidia, chicken waste can be composted. In fact, chicken manure has valuable nutrients used to replenish depleted soil. There will be less need for hen owners to drive to the store to purchase a bag of manure.

Chickens also reduce the need for pesticides because they eat bugs and weeds, providing a natural abatement for pest bugs and weeds. Having a small number of hens would reduce or eliminate the need for chemical applications of 2, 4-D which is a common lawn pesticide found in the “weed and feed” combination lawn treatments and is linked to cancer and altered reproductive health in men and women.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (2012) “veterinarians have reported in three published scientific studies that dogs with Canine Malignant Lymphoma are about 70 percent more likely to live in homes where 2, 4-D is used to treat the yard compared to dogs without this fatal disease. Canine Malignant Lymphoma is very similar to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in people”1 According to the Journal of Environmental Health, “Pesticides have been associated with the development of certain cancers in children, including leukemia, sarcomas, and brain tumors. Many classes of pesticides have been shown to adversely affect the developing nervous system of experimental animals. Parental exposure to pesticides
has been linked with birth defects in children. New studies suggest that pesticides may compromise the immune system of infants and children. According to Stanhope & Lancaster, children exposed to environmental hazards such as pesticides are at risk for developing learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, chronic diseases such as asthma and cancer, and illness resulting from central nervous system damage (Massey-Stokes, 2002)” (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2006, p. 104).

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If people are allowed chickens, are they going to ask if they can have a horse next?

The proposed ordinance is to allow backyard hens and is not inclusive of any other additional animals.

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4 thoughts on “Q & A

    1. Profile photo of Keith ConleyKeith Conley

      @Bennie Sides

      I’m uncertain about who will actually process chickens for you, but you may try contacting some of the local farms, such as Green Cedars Farm. I know there are many others localally, but Green Cedars Farm is the only one I’ve had personal contact with and I know for a fact that they process chickens, I just don’t know if they process chickens from outside of their farm.

  1. Profile photo of Jamelynn McDonaldJamelynn McDonald

    I was wondering if there are laws prohibiting at home slaughter of birds. If so, are there any companies in the area where you can drop off live birds and pick them up cleaned/dressed etc. I remember when Grandmama would go out to the coop and “prepare” sunday dinner. I know its not a nice topic but was just wondering about the current laws?

  2. Profile photo of Keith ConleyKeith Conley

    There is nothing in the County ordinance prohibiting raising birds for meat and processing them yourself. We believe this was on purpose, though it wasn’t requested when we were working on getting the ordinance passed. No complaints from me though!

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