Chicken Ordinance – For the BIRDS!

The City of Saratoga Springs has a new Chicken Ordinance that they are looking into.  Here are the problems I have with the ordinance, and why I think it is a bad idea for residents to support it.  I believe there is a better way to regulate chickens in the City than the currently proposed regulations. (Picture from Li-lith on

I see two types of Ordinances that the City can propose.  There are the Ordinances that protect the publics health and safety, and then Ordinances that eliminate or punish nuisance behavior.   I have heard that this Ordinance is for both of these reasons.

Don’t let anyone fool you that this is an Ordinance to protect public health and safety.   I challenge anyone to show me a direct link from someone having chickens in their backyard to a case of death or serious injury.  You have a better chance of dying from stepping on a rusty nail than you do from having health or injury problems from a neighbors chickens.  (So do we need to have the city regulate rusty nails?)  This Ordinance is nothing more than an ordinance to eliminate what people see as possible nuisances.  “To prevent disease, all chickens need to be vaccinated yearly using the guidelines of the United States Department of Agriculture.  Owners must provide proof if required by the City.”  Really?   Are chickens really a big cause of disease?  I would like to see the studies that prove this one.  Studies that are not from commercial growers, but studies of backyard flocks.   Of course if you put several thousand birds together, you will see some disease, just like if you put thousands of people together in a small area.   Having a dozen chickens in a coop does not cause a breeding pool for disease.

Instead of telling me what I can or can’t do with my property, why not setup fines and regulations if I do become a nuisance.  If my chickens get in my neighbors yard, setup a chicken at large fine.  We already do this for dogs.   If the smell gets bad and the neighbors complain, then have an obnoxious smell ordinance and fine me until I can get the smell under control.   If you are afraid that run off from my yard contains chicken waste, then fine me for letting runoff run into my neighbors yard.   If you are afraid that my chickens will be to noisy, then fine me for a noise ordinance violation.

Don’t stop me from using my property the way I want to use my property, just because you think there may be problems.  Let me do what I want with my property, and then fine me if I do in fact cause a problem.

And don’t make me register and get permission to have something in my yard.  The proposed ordinance requires a yearly registration with the city.  Really, I can think of a lot of things that can cause harm to neighbors that we don’t have to register or get permission to own.  And that registration then gives the city the right to go onto your property.  “The registrant(s) shall be subject to an inspection if determined to be necessary or a legitimate complaint is filed with the City.”

The proposed ordinance has more regulations than the city currently has for dog ownership.  And statistically, you are more likely to get hurt by a neighbors dog than you are from a rusty nail, or from a neighbors chicken.  How many times has a dog kept you up at night because of barking?  How many times have you walked past a property and had the lovely smell of the dog waste hit your senses?   How many times have you had to clean up dog waste from your yard?   There are bigger nuisances and public health risks than having chickens in your back yard.   Does the city need to or have to regulate them as well?

Put some standard regulations in place.  Regulations that deal with people that have problems with noise, smell, and trespassing of animals.  Don’t regulate where I can and can’t put my chicken coop.  How many chickens I can have on my property.

When will government back off and let the citizens actually think for themselves.   Put in regulations to deal with me if I do impose a health risk, or I am a nuisance.  Don’t regulate me to try to prevent me from being one.   In doing so, you take away my rights.  The proposed ordinance is nothing more than an attempt to regulate compliance.  Like the saying from one of my favorite TV series…  “Resistance is Futile…  You will be assimilated.”  Or in this case, you will be forced into conformance.


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