Crowing Complaints Lead To New Rooster Regs. In Bourne

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By: Michael J. Rausch
Published: 09/12/13

Looking to address an uptick in complaints about some noisy feathered friends, the Bourne Board of Health has approved new poultry regulations that include limitations on residential ownership of roosters.

Town health agent Cynthia D. Coffin told the board during last night’s meeting that there has been a substantial increase in the number of residents complaining about crowing from roosters in their neighborhood.

Ms. Coffin told the board that she understands, and encourages, people who keep chickens for fresh eggs. However, roosters are another story. Many of the lots where the roosters are being kept are undersized, and the constant crowing is an annoyance, she said.

“We have had so many complaints this summer, I can’t even tell you. In the 28 years that I have been here I have never had so many complaints about crowing roosters,” Ms. Coffin said.

Under the new regulations, as presented to the board by town health inspector Zackary J. Seabury, no rooster shall be permitted on a property of less than two acres. Board member Stanley Andrews asked why Mr. Seabury chose the two-acre designation. Mr. Seabury said that while the sound of a rooster crowing can carry beyond two acres, he believed that to be a good distance between properties. He also noted that anyone with a two-acre lot likely has a neighbor with a lot of equal size.

Additionally, the bylaw states that the roosters are to be used for breeding purposes only.

“If there is no sale of chicks, or chickens for household income, roosters shall not be permitted regardless of lot size,” Mr. Seabury told the board.

Mr. Andrews took exception to that part of the regulations, saying that it would limit people who were looking to increase their egg production for household income. Ms. Coffin argued that a homeowner might have to settle for five eggs as opposed to 20, but “it’s a compromise.”

Chairman Kathleen M. Peterson said that she would prefer any regulation regarding rooster ownership to stipulate that anyone wanting to own a rooster get a variance from the board of health. Ms. Peterson said that by so stipulating, the board would not have to rule on such things as acreage, although she did agree that two acres would be a good benchmark for the board.

The new regulations also limit the number of hens a homeowner can have contingent on the size of their property. Property owners are permitted to have four hens per quarter acre, and no more than two hens if they have less than a quarter acre. In his draft regulation, Mr. Seabury labeled hens as females and roosters as males. Mr. Andrews interrupted him and said that the ordinance should include “meat birds.”

“They fix the chick so it’s raised as a meat bird; it’s neither one, it’s not a rooster, it’s not a chicken,” Mr. Andrews said.

Board member Galon (Skip) Barlow asked if meat birds can crow like a rooster, and Mr. Andrews said no. Mr. Barlow then suggested that since meat birds do not crow, they be classified as “hens.” The board eventually agreed that the new regulation will state that “female hens shall include ‘meat-birds’ which may or may not have a sex.”


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