Backyard chickens will have negative impact on city home owners

To the Editor, There is always more than one side to every issue, and the Great Backyard Chicken Debate is no different. While the proponents offer glowing examples of the joys of owning chickens, from the “pet” value to educational experiences, there are some who see this quite differently. If people are going to vote on this issue, they should be informed and apprised of all factors regarding chicken ownership. Let’s start at the beginning. It’s against the law, has been for quite some time and for apparently good reason. In April 1989, the Tecumseh Township Board of Trustees rightfully declared that: “…No livestock shall be kept or maintained in any zoning district on parcels of land located within a proprietary or assessor's plat or on parcels of less than ten (10) acres in area, except that for each dwelling unit the occupant may keep for his personal use domestic pets provided they are not kept or used for commercial or foregoing Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map. (SECTION 5.21. ANIMALS.)…” While I cannot honestly say I personally attended the meeting, I am confident in my assumption that the board members did not make this decision lightly, vindictively or without a great deal of forethought. Since around 2000, the backyard chicken movement has gained momentum, a cult following in a sense. It seems to be the ‘fad du jour’ for some, a downright obsession for others. But just because someone is passionate about owning chickens, does not mean those who do not follow suit deserve to be denigrated or threatened with recall. No one is saying you can’t own chickens, you just can’t own them within city limits. Aside from the “chickens aren’t pets’ argument, there are perfectly legitimate reasons that people should not be allowed chickens in the city. Now I understand that one of the arguments the proponents are putting forth is that chickens make great pets and have for many years. They conjure up images of cuddly little chicklets scurrying around the backyard providing hours of entertainment, magically transforming into adulthood and becoming not only entertaining but capable of providing a food source, fresh eggs! The truth of the matter is, chickens peck and scratch all day and from where I sit, that’s not entertaining past the first 3 minutes. The fresh eggs element becomes a moot point after about 3 years when the chicken naturally stops laying. Chickens lay eggs reliably for about 2-3 years. Chickens can live for about 10 years. What are you going to do with an old chicken that doesn’t lay anymore? Statistically, there has been a significant uptick in abandoned chickens because they are no longer producing. That’s hardly humane. The educational value is also questionable. I grew up around chickens, and the only education I derived from them was 1.) stay far, far away from the roosters, 2.) they stink, 3.) once you’ve seen one egg laid the excitement is over, and 4.) chickens are magnets for predators. The simple question of “What killed my chickens?” has been Googled over 29,000 times signifying it might be more than just a little problem. Furthermore, how will little Suzie deal with seeing her little chicken pet, shredded by a fox, in a heap of bloody feathers on the front lawn. For those who will say “death is inevitable” I agree, but all things in due time. Children should learn about death slowly and gently, not in vivid technicolor. Chicks are cute, chickens are not and calling them a family pet is a stretch to say the least. The official definition of a pet is as follows: “A pet or companion animal is an animal kept primarily for a person's company or protection, as opposed to working animals, sport animals, livestock, and laboratory animals.” Dogs, cats and a goldfish are pets. Chickens are not pets, by definition, they are livestock and livestock belong on a farm not within city limits. Despite the rosy image of chickens happily “free-ranging” all over Tecumseh, there are side effects to consider before ticking that “YES” box. • Chicken droppings smell…bad. The droppings will attract flies and flies carry disease. • Chickens attract predators of all ilk, from carnivores to rodents. • Chickens can transmit diseases to humans, salmonella to name just one. • Your decision to keep chickens, in the solitude of your own backyard, is a fairytale. Like it or not, your little chicken haven will infringe on your neighbors, either by smell, noise or the aforementioned influx of chicken predators. The other superfluous argument for backyard chickens simply doesn’t hold water either. To say that other “progressive, forward thinking cities have amended their laws” is great, then move to your choice of those “cool” cities. When I first moved to the area, I found Tecumseh to be not only quaint, beautiful and full of history, but quite elegant as well. The friendly, well maintained mom and pop shops draw people in and keep them coming back. The homes in the city evince an era of days gone by, of wealth and good fortune. There are many who fear, and not without merit, that the amendment of the laws currently on the books, would create an unfavorable atmosphere. They also believe that there is little proof that people would flock to our little town, simply because we now allow some folks to own chickens. There is a time and place for everything. The time of owning and keeping chickens in the city proper, has passed. The place to own and keep chickens is in the country where they have room to range freely, and they don’t infringe on a neighbor living a stone’s throw away. We would encourage anyone considering voting YES on the initiative, to do some of your own research, be open-minded, and consider all the ramifications. This is not about personal freedom, no one is taking away the right to own chickens. You can own an entire flock of chickens if you so desire, just not in the city. That’s called compromise, not infringement of personal freedoms. Deborah Pietrangeld Raisin Twp.


Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

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