By Rob Morris on March 14, 2012
With more people trending toward healthy, home-grown food, numerous blogs and websites are devoted to their care and keeping. They go by various names, including urban chickens, backyard poultry and suburban hens.
Now, two couples want to become part of the growing move toward local food production and raise chickens at their Kill Devil Hills homes. But first, the town’s zoning code will have to be changed.
In the town’s ordinance, domestic fowl of all kinds are part of a prohibition against keeping livestock within town limits.
The request by Rob and Susan Rollason and John and Kathleen Wasniewski will get a thorough airing by the town’s staff and Planning Board. The process will include a public hearing.
Commissioners introduced the request at their meeting Monday night. Considerable information has already been gathered, including ordinances from other towns on keeping hens.
Manteo, for example, allows a maximum of six chickens and no roosters. Specifics on containing and maintaining them are included in the ordinance.
Information supplied to the Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners also included “Seven Urban Chicken Myths” by Patricia Foreman from Backyard Poultry magazine.
Among the myths, Foreman wrote, are that chickens spread disease, are noisy and create odors.
Avian flu being spread from chicken to humans is rare, Foreman wrote, and the roosters, the males, are the noisy chickens.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that chickens can be a source of salmonella, so safe handling and education are important as the trend toward raising urban chickens grows.
Besides delivering eggs, chickens leave behind another bonus: Their waste is high in nitrogen, Kathleen Wasniewski told the board. So unlike pet waste, it breaks down with compost and can be used for gardens.
“Ten chickens produce two thirds of a pound of waste per day, whereas a 40-pound dog can produce three quarters of a pound, and that’s just one dog,” she said.
Chickens also are said to be good for bug control, including mosquitoes.
After the request is researched and heard by the Planning Board, it will probably come back to the commissioners in late May or early June.