Chickens in Iowa City
Just wanted to make sure that anyone here from Iowa City knows that there's a petition going around to allow Iowa City residents to raise chickens:
It would be limited to 5 hens, no roosters, and no butchering, possibly based on the Madison ordinance. It's been being covered in the press and city council members have started weighing in. I see one leaning toward it, three leaning against it, and three who've made no statements in either direction, but none have really taken a firm stand.
Some talking points:
* Cities like Madison, LA, Chicago, and even New York City allow the raising of hens. The Madison ordinance proved so popular that it was later amended to allow apartment dwellers to own them as well.
* Hens, unlike roosters, are quiet. They won't stay up late (like, say, a neighbor's dog). Hens that don't have chicks only make noise after they lay an egg, and only briefly.
* The stereotype of henhouses being smelly is due to the typical practice of raising large numbers of hens in tight quarters. A properly ventilated henhouse with only a few hens doesn't have that problem. Additionally, the ordinance can specify a minimum distance from neighboring dwellings.
* Any problems one might have with a neighbor's hens can be addressed with nuisance complaints, just like with any problematic pet.
* Hens not only provide their owners with eggs, but pest control, weed control, fertilizer, and as you can feed them scraps and weeds (even lawn clippings), they reduce household waste. The eggs they provide when given a diverse diet tend have been shown in laboratory testing to be significantly more nutrient-rich than commercial grain-fed eggs.
* Raising hens allows children to see where their food comes from, take pride in their efforts, and see the rewards.
* Passing the ordinance will stimulate the economy. Chicken coops costs hundreds of dollars to build, not to mention the feed they consume and bedding they need every year. The city could easily be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars upfront and tens of thousands per year in additional financial activity.
* Concerns about abandoned hens can be addressed through a permitting fee, as used in Madison, with at least part of the money going to the animal shelter. The Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter already takes in adopted hens and works with local farmers to adopt them out.
Lastly, contact everyone you know who might be interested and ask them to get involved! :)