The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

In Defense of Chickens in Town


August 22, 2018

Dear Editor,

I am sure you have heard of the great chicken debate. It’s been the cluck of the town the past few weeks.

I’d like to make some points on why chickens should be allowed and counterpoints to some of the reasons I have heard people oppose chickens.

Chickens are varied creatures: they come in all shapes, sizes, colors and personalities. They are not just your grandparents’ white-meat bird. They lay a rainbow of colored, yummy eggs and don’t need a rooster to do so. And they are a great way to give city children a sense of responsibility and understanding of agriculture on a small scale.

Most of the people I talked to who are anti-chicken grew up on farms taking care of 200 chickens. I imagine on that level chickens would be quite gross. Backyard chickens are not the same as farm poultry. The code would allow for six female chickens and no roosters. The work is greatly reduced when you take away 194 birds. A flock of four to five birds creates as much waste in a day as a single dog. Unlike dog and cat waste, this can be used as fertilizer in the garden.

I recognize that Glasgow doesn’t have an animal control officer, and that any calls about chickens could make more work for the police department. In contacting many of the departments around Montana, the calls for complaints have been very low and easily resolved. Tom Stinchfield, of Billings, received 5,464 calls to animal control; 38 of those were for general livestock and of those 38 calls, only nine were for chickens. That’s 0.6 percent, not even a whole percent. Jeff Darrah, of Missoula, fields less than five complaints a year and most are easily resolved. Judy Roy of Livingston has had 15 calls in five years. And Miles City has had two calls in eight months both for a loose chicken, and one was out of jurisdiction. I cannot speak for those who will not follow the rules. I do think with the way we have written the code we should have very few problems.

As with any animal health risks are always a possibility, though not much more than an average household pet. Hand washing and proper coop maintenance will reduce your risk. Unless you have direct hand to mouth contact, your chances of getting sick are very low. You can find very scary stories on the internet, but as far as numbers go, they are few and far between. The extension service has offered a free course on backyard chicken care to potential chicken owners.

Raising backyard chickens is a long-standing trend with more and more cities around the country allowing for them all the time. Glasgow is a growing and breathing community. We want to show our potential new community members that we are an inclusive place to live. That in the middle of nowhere you too can have chickens.

Personally, I want chickens because they’re cute and funny. They give fresh eggs, reduce the amount of food I put in the garbage and they work in the garden. I love the conversations I’ve had with neighbors and passersby, the sense of accomplishment I get from raising my own food. But most of all, I love the life they bring to my yard.

There is always a potential for problems when trying anything new, but without risk there is no reward. As far as backyard chickens go, in my experience, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

This is why I am for backyard chickens.

Madelyn House

Glasgow, Mont.


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