Backyard poultry farming legalised in US community

06-10-2010 | | |

A US city council in the urban community of Providence has given final approval to an ordinance that would allow residents to raise up to six chickens.

The ruling makes Providence the first urban community in the state to pass legislation similar to chicken ordinances in other cities across the country, including New York, Portland, Los Angeles and Baltimore.

Providence’s new chicken law comes as other communities are considering revising local laws to accommodate a burgeoning interest in locally grown food.

“Many local ordinances were made for a different era and have not kept up with local needs,” says Kenneth D. Ayars, chief of the state Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Agriculture, who has supported the push of legalising chicken-raising in Providence and elsewhere. “Communities are recognising that there is a need for an environment that encourages local agriculture.”

Opponents, including the Defenders of Animals and the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, say the law could open the door for chicken abuse and neglect, exacerbate the city’s rat problem, and create an unregulated, home-grown egg market that could lead to an increase in cases of food poisoning and other health hazards.

The law limits residents to one hen per 800 square feet of lot area and a maximum of six hens on any property. It prohibits roosters, the slaughtering of chickens on residential properties, and keeping chickens in the house.

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