Survey: Most residents favor urban chickens, rabbits

People cited food, property rights, education, 4-H projects and pest control as reasons to support changing the ordinance

Hannah Grover,
Stacie Voss, director of Farmington Regional Animal Shelter talks about the shelter's arrangements to take care of chickens and rabbits on Monday at the Farrmington Regional Animal Shelter.
  • City Council will hear about residents' responses during a meeting Tuesday evening
  • Concerns include composting manure, location of coops, storage of food, slaughtering animals and free range chickens
  • Animal shelter director: Changing the ordinance will not create problems if owners are responsible

FARMINGTON — The majority of people who responded to the city of Farmington's survey about keeping chickens and rabbits within city limits support the change.

About 89 percent of the more than 370 people who responded favored the ordinance change. City Council will hear a presentation about the residents' responses during a 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday  at City Hall, 800 N. Municipal Dr.

The main reasons cited for keeping the chickens and rabbits were property rights, food, education, 4-H projects and pest control. One person who competed at state science fair using a rabbit genetics study said 4-H helps with college applications.

In addition to the online survey, the city planning and zoning committee had public meetings last week. No one attended the first meeting and 24 people attended the second meeting. Of the 24 people, three opposed the change. According to the council agenda packet, concerns expressed during the meetings included composting manure, placement of enclosures, storage of animal food, slaughtering animals in yards, neighborhood conflicts and people allowing chickens to free range.

The survey generated similar responses in opposition to the change. One person who took the survey suggested pinioning to prevent chickens from flying over fences. Pinioning is when the tip of the bird's wing is surgically removed.

The main reason cited on the survey for opposing the change was negligent care of dogs and cats. Farmington Regional Animals Shelter Director Stacie Voss said it is rare for the shelter to receive abused animals, but there have been cases of neglect. She said neglect cases usually involve well-meaning people who don't have the resources to care for the pet.

One person who responded to the survey said special use permits, which are currently required, encourage people to take better care of their animals. Obtaining a permit can cost $300 to $400, which is why the city is considering changing the ordinance. One person suggested a small fee and inspections.

Despite the ordinance, several roosters have been taken to the Farmington shelter, including a stray earlier this month. Voss said poultry are kept inside kennels in the intake area.

"We don't have a barnyard or anything for them," she said.

Stacie Voss, director of Farmington Regional Animal Shelter talks about the cages they use to shelter small mammals and birds on Monday at the Farrmington Regional Animal Shelter.

While the shelter is not set up for chickens, it has a special room set aside for small mammals like rabbits. Voss encouraged people who want to acquire a pet rabbit or chicken to check the shelter for adoptable animals.

"I think as long as people are responsible with it I don't have any concerns," she said about changing the ordinance.

More people expressed opposition to chickens than rabbits. 

"I feel like chickens and rabbits are two different animals (well literally and figuratively) and rules for one might be different than the other," one person wrote. "Unless it's a Cadbury bunny… then it must lay eggs and they must be commercially sold."

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

By the numbers

— Source: City of Farmington