Sheena and Valerie, activists with the Chickunz urban-chicken movement. Photo credit: Chickunz RVa Facebook page.

In a victory for urban chicken lovers everywhere, Richmond City Council adopted yesterday the final set of regulations that will make it permissible to own up to four hens in residential areas. In a setback for gender equality, however, the ban on roosters still applies. (See the Times-Dispatch article.)

Just kidding about the gender-equality thing. Roosters are a nuisance. Nobody wants to be woken at daybreak by a cock crowing next door. In all seriousness, lifting the ban on urban chickens marks a big step forward for the locally grown food movement, which is gaining momentum across Virginia.

There are a couple of layers to the issue worth examining. The first is the matter of individual rights. Why shouldn’t people be allowed to raise chickens in their back yards if it doesn’t pose a nuisance or health hazard to neighbors? What business is it of local government to restrict the practice? The City of Richmond will charge a $60-a-year permit to offset the cost of subjecting chicken coop owners to inspections by the Department of Animal Control and Care. That’s a reasonable concession to ensure that sanitary conditions are maintained.

The second issue is aiding and expediting the growth of the locally grown food movement. If Virginians increasingly have a taste for chicken and/or eggs that aren’t raised under the conditions of industrial agriculture, with all the hormones that are fed to the chickens and all the chicken waste that is produced, then public policy should encourage them to raise their own hens.

Furthermore, in a time of chronic economic hardship, when thousands of Virginians are short on cash and long on spare time, food self-sufficiency strikes me as a good thing. Poor people, in particular, should be coaxed into supplementing their food stamps with eggs, chicken and garden produce they raise themselves. We all know the old saying, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” Substitute “chicken” for “fish.” Self-sufficiency — now, that’s real social change!


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5 responses to “Hens and Self Sufficiency”

  1. larryg Avatar

    this is how regulations come about. You say” Why shouldn’t people be allowed to raise chickens in their back yards if it doesn’t pose a nuisance or health hazard to neighbors? ”

    that’s a mouth full!

    the fact that you ask the question shows why there needs to be regulation.

    we had that very issue in Spotsylvania a month back which was barely a month after the City of Fredericksburg loosened their rules to allow chickens in back yards.

    By the way -growing chickens in your back yard does NOT allow you to slaughter them (even for food) – in your back yard so forget that idea!

    In Spotsylvania, one of the uber-Sprawl centers of Va – the issue did not get resolved neatly. Turns out those who move to Spotsy to live in a cul-de-sac’ed subdivision take a dim view of the idea and something happened I was unaware could happen in that we have 7 districts in the county and we ended up with the ordinance only applying in 4 districts and not in 3 districts.

    The Sheriff says it will be a nightmare to enforce because his deputies do not know the specific boundary lines for the districts and he “hoped” that not too many other future ordinances would be done the same way.

    My grandDad had a chicken house so that there were enough chickens to provide enough eggs per day for a family plus one or two chicken dinners per week. There were a helluva lot more than 4 chickens in that coup – I’d say 20 or 30…. so the idea of “growing your own food” is so “clueless suburban”!

    Besides, I’d bet the ardor for chicken “food” would die a quick death the very first time – the keeper of the hens had to chop the head off of dinner and then pluck the feathers and gut it.

    We are, to put it delicately, pansies… when it comes to “growing our own food” unless it’s mostly not alive enough that we have to dispatch it like we would a chicken. God forbid it would be a pig or cow!

    woose! woose! woose!

  2. Darrell Avatar

    Four chickens: $20.
    Coup: $40.
    City tax: $60.
    Feed and all the other hassle: Priceless.

    4 Rotisserie Chickens bought at store markdown policy price: $8 Total (even less with producer’s coupons)

    1. Ha! Ha! I agree with you. You won’t catch me with chickens in the back yard.

      I see the keeping of urban chickens as akin to raising an urban flower garden — a hobby, nothing more. Instead of viewing the product, you eat it. If that’s what people want to do, they should be free to do it.

      1. reed fawell III Avatar
        reed fawell III

        This is why our civilization is going down the drain. We are being micromanaged by certifiable idiots. Can you imagine the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Patrick Henry judging these clowns.
        My God, Richmond is burning as imbeciles issue edicts on chickens.

    2. larryg Avatar

      yeah,, Darrell nailed it. Some wise guy at our local hearing wanted to know if there was a permit and inspection fee required for dog houses…

      you know… on one hand you wonder the how and why govt gets involved in any of these things then on the other hand you know what would happen – what DOES happen when some fool decides he’s gonna raise rattlesnakes for meat or some such.

      there’s always some idiot who cannot live beside other folks without doing things that are going to drive his neighbors bonkers…. ergo… here come the regs….

      whether it’s some old biddy with 100 cats or some whacko raising black mumbas … there’s always someone that will send the neighbors to demand regulation.

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