We strongly believe that cities should allow residents to keep a few chickens (hens only) within city limits. And we understand that many of our readers are working to change local laws so they can keep chickens legally. We've developed this statement in support of those efforts. Feel free to use it if you're working to get an ordinance passed to allow chickens in your city. And please let us know how your efforts turn out. — Cheryl Long, Editor-in-chief
To Whom It May Concern,
Chickens have been animal companions of humans for thousands of years. When allowed to range in the yard, they are very entertaining and they provide more benefits to us than cats or dogs. They provide outstanding pest control, eating ticks, slugs, mosquitoes and many other insects. And they produce eggs that are much more nutritious than those you can buy at the supermarket.
Backyard chickens will generally get far more humane care than those raised in filthy, crowded “factory farms.” Industrial production is creating numerous problems, including pollution from manure, antibiotic resistance and higher risk of a more dangerous strain of bird flu. Keeping a few chickens at home is one way we can each do our part to address these problems. Limit their numbers, and require clean, humane care — sure. But there is no legitimate reason for any city to prohibit keeping a few chickens, any more than there is reason to ban the keeping of dogs or cats. Indeed, I believe ordinances prohibiting chickens are probably unconstitutional.
Cheryl Long is the editor in chief of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and a leading advocate for more sustainable lifestyles. She leads a team of editors which produces high quality content that has resulted in MOTHER EARTH NEWS being rated as one North America’s favorite magazines. Long lives on an 8-acre homestead near Topeka, Kan., powered in part by solar panels, where she manages a large organic garden and a small flock of heritage chickens. Prior to taking the helm at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, she was an editor at Organic Gardening magazine for 10 years. Connect with her on Google+.