We got a question from meemsnyc of Gardening in the Buroughs of NYC:
My husband wants to raise a few chickens, but I’m very hesitant. We live in a city environment. We have neighbors really close to our yard. Are chickens loud? I don’t want to make our neighbors angry with us if they are.
Believe it or not this is a pretty common question and rightly so. Neighbor relations can sometimes be touchy and walking on eggshells around them is more common than one would think. That said, there are ways around it when it comes to having chickens.
I won’t lie. Chickens can indeed by noisy. However, so are dogs, and in my opinion a hen can’t hold a candle to dogs in terms of sound. The good thing about hens is that they go to bed at sunset and don’t actually start clucking until mid morning when they start laying their eggs. And usually a hen will only cluck for a minute or two until she finds the rest of her flock. Unlike some dogs that will bark all day and all night (bad owners, not bad dogs by the way). If your neighbors work during the day they likely won’t even notice except on weekends.
|Hen laying an egg even though we don’t have a rooster|
A common misconception about chickens is that to get eggs you have to have a rooster. Roosters are very noisy, more noisy than dogs for sure and they always start up at the worst time – sometimes as early as 3am. But you don’t need a rooster to get eggs, so there’s no need to have one.
Now, I checked out the chicken ordinances for New York City and it appears that hens are considered pets and you can have an unlimited number of them. Roosters are not allowed though. You should double check this though as ordinances do change over time. If it is still OK to have chickens and a neighbor calls animal control on you they won’t take your chickens away or cite you. Chances are they probably won’t even contact you considering how many other animal cases they deal with every day.
If you’re serious about getting a few hens you might consider letting your neighbors know ahead of time and even showing them some literature about keeping hens in the city to ease any worries they may have. The worst they can do is say “no” and then you’ll know where everyone stands. The fantastic thing about hens though is that they provide you with goods (eggs) and those goods can sometimes be in high demand – esp if you feed them organic feed. Sharing is your best option – or what I like to refer to as bribing. Let your neighbors know that for their patience and tolerance they will get eggs in return. For neighbors with children you can even offer to allow their kids to come over and play with the chickens.
Another thing that can be a concern of neighbors is smell. Many people don’t want their backyards to smell like barnyards. If they did they’d move to the country and have their own. So the first thing to do is locate an area for the coop that is at least 15-20′ away from peoples’ homes if you are building a permanent one. You also will need to make sure you keep it clean. Clean out the coop at least once a week to reduce smells. You can also go with a chicken tractor instead which can be moved around your yard. It keeps hens safe and happy while also keeping their waste from getting concentrated in just one area.
I hope this helps and good luck!