Auburn council approves keeping laying hens

AUBURN — Residents on lots up to half an acre can keep up to six egg-laying hens, city councilors decided Tuesday. And those on larger lots can keep up to 12 birds per acre, up to a flock of 36 birds.

Councilors agreed to change city ordinances and zoning codes to let residents keep small flocks of the birds in all zoning districts to provide fresh eggs.

"It's just chickens, after all," Councilor Dan Herrick said. "They are not mean, they are not dangerous. They are sweet, and they give you eggs."

Despite a last-minute push, residents don't have to register their birds with the city or even notify the city that they are keeping them.

Councilor Robert Hayes suggested councilors only allow the flocks on lots larger than half an acre and urged councilors to have residents on smaller lots notify the city.

It would make it easier for city staff to track down the birds' owner in case of complaints.

That's what Pauline Bernier of Mill Street was concerned about. She urged councilors to vote against keeping the birds, saying they'd be a nuisance and attract rodents.

"I've seen a rat, as big as a cat, and I don't want to see others," she said. "That's what would be attracted to the city, if everyone starts keeping chickens."

She said she was also worried about smells from the birds' droppings.

But Councilor Herrick said registering the birds would not help.

"Then, you have to hire a person in the clerk's office to take the registrations," he said. "And they're never open, so it just becomes a nightmare."

Councilors ultimately voted Hayes' suggested down. They did agree to change the wording, however, substituting the words "laying hens" for "poultry."

"You don't want turkeys, you don't want ducks, you don't want meat birds or guinea hens," Herrick said.

The current language allows residents to keep the birds in all city zoning districts.

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 's picture

Hens do not attract rodents....

My husband and I live in Leeds, Maine and have succesfully farmed both laying hens and poultry chicken for the last four years and we have never once had a rodent problem. We've not even seen one rodent (not even a small mouse) in their coops. Our layers are in an insulated and heated coup, which you would think would be even more inviting, but no, no problems. As far as the smell is concerned, so long as you clean up after your birds, the smell can be managed. The change to the City's ordinance is a positive one. With the rising cost of food these days, people need to have the right to raise their own food, even if they don't live in the country.

Jim Cyr's picture

Attract Rodents????

What planet are you from Ms. Bernier? And Mr. Herrick, "you don't want, you don't want, you don't want......What ever happened to individual freedoms and the desire for self sufficiency???? Since when do you control how I support and put fresh and natural food on our family's table?

 's picture

A bit out of context

Councilor Herrick was taken a bit out of context in the article. He was saying that it would be best if the ordinance allowed only laying hens and not other birds who fit the definition of "poultry" which was the original wording in the ordinance.

Councilor Herrick just wanted to ensure that the ordinance wasn't too broad and allow smelly birds (like broiler chickens or production turkeys) or noisy birds (like roosters and guinea fowl) or messy birds (like geese and ducks). These are all great birds and well suited for farms and dinner tables, but probably would be best to keep out of the more densely populated areas of Auburn.

At least now you are able to raise laying hens legally in Auburn. Mr Herrick was the impetus behind this change at his constituents behest.

 's picture

No rats?!

She really thinks there aren't any rats in Auburn now? Hahahahaha!


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