Crying Fowl over Chickens

Posted: August 28, 2013

Today, many non farm residents are interested in raising backyard chickens in urban and suburban settings for a variety of reasons including having fresh eggs to eat, a hobby or teaching their kids the responsibility of caring for an animal.
A backyard chicken coop in a community

A backyard chicken coop in a community

Some people even feel that the nutritional value of eggs from chickens raised in the backyard is better than those eggs from large scale poultry operations. Unfortunately, science has validated that there is no nutritional difference between eggs from backyard chickens than those from large-scale operations.

Some cities and municipalities have restrictions on raising chickens or prohibit it completely leaving many of these residents to question these ordinances.

The last 5 years has seen an uptick in local governments regulating backyard chickens. Issues that local governments feel they need to address in allowing backyard chickens are noise (especially roosters), odor from chicken waste, attraction of rodents and other vermin and chickens running loose in the community. The way communities regulate backyard chickens varies from no regulations, which is what happens in my township, to 10 acres or more for a home owner to keep chickens. Local governments need to look at the bigger picture and make sure that a resident isn’t irritated by their neighbor raising chickens.

However, the raising of domestic chickens is very much in vogue right now. Parents are determined to teach their children about a sustainable lifestyle and from where exactly their food comes. Some urban children think their eggs come from a Styrofoam box at the grocery store instead of coming from a chicken. Other homeowners want to raise backyard chickens because that was how it was done 100 years ago, and having the entire yard as part of the small ecosystem is of interest to them.

A recent Penn State Extension webinar, “Coping with Coops in the Neighborhood - How Chicken Conflicts are Being Addressed” discussed the issues related with raising chickens in an urban setting, as well as advice on how to be a good neighbor if you want to raise chickens. A link to register to view the webinar will be posted on the Penn State Extension Economic Development website.

For those who want to raise chickens in urban and suburban environments, it is not as easy as setting up a tarp over some fences and placing the birds underneath the tarp. It takes more work and effort than that.


Contact Information

Peter Wulfhorst, AICP
  • Extension Educator, Ag Entrepreneurship & Economic & Community Development Extension Team
Phone: 570-296-3400