No Changing HOA Guidelines to Allow Fowl (or any other farm animal)

  • by: Chris Hooper
  • recipient: McKinney Heights Property Owners

There is too much potential for disease, health and nuisance issues to allow neighbors to raise chickens.

This petition is in response to another petition which is trying to gather support for changing The McKinney Heights "no raising chickens" rule.  The premise for that other petition is the economic downturn will force residents to produce their own eggs in order to eat. However, in most cases, it is more cost-effective to buy eggs at the grocery store than to raise chickens in the backyard.

Despite the flawed premise, there are many other reasons (top 12 below) not to allow residents to keep chickens in the McKinney Heights neighborhood.

1. Bacterial and other diseases
Salmonella and Campylobacter are common public health hazards potentially associated with chicken contact. Infection is characterized by diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and/or abdominal cramps; small children, elderly persons, and those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to severe illness. These bacteria are carried by healthy chickens and are communicable to people through direct contact, exposure to manure. Young birds may be especially prone to shed these organisms in their droppings. This poses a hazard to anyone who comes into contact with the droppings (poop dust blown over the fence).

Histoplasmosis can cause a respiratory disease with cough and shortness of breath. The fungal organism causing this disease can be concentrated in areas with quantities of bird droppings. Persons acquire the disease by inhalation of the organism from the environment (poop dust blowing over the fence).

Avian influenza is a theoretical public health hazard potentially associated with urban chicken farming. Birds can shed the organism in the saliva, nasal secretions and feces. Avian influenza is a viral disease of birds that is communicable to people through exposure to respiratory or fecal secretions.

2. Risk to Residents with Allergies.
The dander and dust created by birds is an allergen and it can blow over to your yard which is a public health hazard potentially associated with urban chicken farming. If you suffer from allergies or respiratory problems, you must think very seriously about keeping birds- chickens or allowing your neighbors to keep them.  Since it can occasionally cause reactions in people, there is a threat of losing the enjoyment of your own back yard if you have to avoid wind blown dander and dust from chickens.

3. Noise.
Clucking and Crowing is a public nuisance issue potentially associated with urban chicken farming. We all know that roosters crow loudly at the crack of dawn, but hens can be just as noisy. Some will even shout their own cock-a-doodle-do. Besides that, hens cluck loudly when they lay an egg, when they are looking for a mate, and just for fun. Chickens will proudly announce they are awake and hungry. While you may be fine with the additional noise, your neighbors may not be so enthusiastic.

People claim they are not noisy but that isn't true:

4. Smell and Flies.
Chickens are filthy and come with poo problems which is a public health hazard and nuisance issue potentially associated with urban chicken farming. They produce a lot of poop, and it smells. It will be an endless battle, made worse by the fact that chickens have to live within a fenced area; This leads to accumulation, compaction, and odor, despite any best efforts to clean and shovel. There is risk that many people won't keep things clean and healthy. Poop will be in the hen house, in the yard, and on the eggs.

Besides the smell, dirty uncared for coops can lead to disease and death of the chickens, possible rodent infestation- not to mention flies! Unfortunately, McKinney Heights can't ensure that residents will properly clean their hen house regularly or trim 'poopy' feathers from around the vents (it needs to be done to prevent maggot infestation) or wash the run area or power wash porches, etc.

Neighbors don't want chicken-poop dust and bad odors blowing over to their yards.

5. Rodents.
The attraction of rodents is a public health hazard and nuisance issue potentially associated with urban chicken farming. Failure to maintain a clean environment for the chickens could attract mice or rats to a property. Chicken feed and eggs are a magnet for predators and rodents. Rodents will destroy any neighboring garden and you could end up with rat droppings in your grill.

6. Attraction of Predators
The attraction of predators is a public health hazard and nuisance issue potentially associated with urban chicken farming. The presence of chickens on a property might attract urban predators such as stray dogs, foxes, coyotes, cats, snakes, possum, skunks, hawks, and raccoons. This would increase the probability of conflict between humans and predators in the urban environment (e.g., animal bites). Backyard hens are especially vulnerable to predation. These predators are prevalent and persistent and coops often turn out to be less secure than advertised.

7. Parasites.
Chickens can get lice and mites, not to mention intestinal worms and other icky parasites (

8. Flying the Coop.
They will fly the coop, hop the fence and mess with neighbors flowers and plants. This is a public nuisance issue potentially associated with urban chicken farming.

9. COA requirements.
Most yards in McKinney Heights are not big enough to meet COA requirements "Enclosures for two or more chickens should be at least 50 feet from adjacent residences or businesses, excluding your home." Nonetheless, some residents will ignore COA requirements if they know the HOA allows them to have chickens. This is a public health hazard and nuisance issue potentially associated with urban chicken farming.

10. Cost Exceeds Benefit.
Contrary to what you may think, you won't save money by raising chickens. Build the coop, buy the chickens, buy the feed, water, wood chips and repairs, pay the vet, count the hours spent maintaining the coop and administering care, compensate the neighbor's kid for feeding the hens when you go to away for the weekend, and then grab a calculator. The results? As one backyard farmer from Merced, California told an online chicken forum: "Don't tell my wife, but I think my eggs are costing about $40 a dozen."

Here's how the numbers shake out:
• Chicken coop: $500.
• Egg-laying hens (purchase): $60 – we eat a lot of eggs, so we'd get three chickens.
• Food: $15/month.
• Chicken-related "extras": $10/month (This includes things like wood chips, repairs to the coop and water bottles).

So, to start up, you are looking at $560, with ongoing costs of roughly $25/month. Of course, this doesn't include vet bills, which would likely come up at some point (from $25 up to $100). Nor does it consider the time spent with maintenance and administration.

A dozen eggs cost $3.50. A dozen eggs per week is $14/month. If the price of a dozen eggs does go up to $6, we're looking at $24/month.

In the end, it's more cost-effective to just buy eggs at the grocery store than to raise chickens in a residential backyard.

11. Slaughter and Abandon Chickens.
Hens start laying eggs after about six months. Production, however, wanes at the age of two. Hens can live for well over a decade. Many backyard hen owners are reluctant to keep a non-productive hen. They might slaughter and eat the hens, though they're not always the best eating chickens. Not many residents will approve of chickens being slaughtered next-door. McKinney Heights may see a rise in abandoned chickens roaming the neighborhood. This is a public health hazard and a nuisance issue potentially associated with urban chicken farming.

12. Decreased property value.
Many residents bought a house in McKinney Heights BECAUSE it has an HOA that prohibits farm animals. With the above-mentioned health hazards and nuisance issues, the chicken coop next-door has the potential to decrease your home's value.

The McKinney Heights by-laws state that,

"No animals, livestock or poultry of any kind shall be ra1sed, bred or kept on the Property except that dogs, cats or other qualified animals may be kept as household pets. Animals are not to be raised, bred or kept for commercial purposes or for food. It is the purpose of these provisions to restrict the use of the Property so that no person shall quarter on the premises cows, horses, bees, hogs, sheep, goats, guinea fowls, ducks, chickens, turkeys, skunks or any other animals that may interfere with the peace and quiet and health and safety of the community."

The purpose of the by law is clear. Restrict farm animals to mitigate issues that may affect the peace, quiet, health and safety of the community.

We reject any idea to change the by-laws to allow chickens or fowl.

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