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Texas Town Enforces Chicken Ban, Assaults Sustainable Living

Run little chicken, run away from Lancaster, Texas.

The small city of Lancaster, Texas has had a law on its books banning all chickens within the city limits, but for years it had gone unnoticed and unenforced, until recently.Β  That changed when a local resident found out that the previously unknown law would now be enforced citing anyone who kept chickens within the city limits.

Local food writer and sustainable living proponent Marye Audet, has kept a flock of 19 chickens on her 2 1/4 acre rural homestead for the last five years in a rural area of town, unaware that she was breaking the law by doing so.

“This is not about us living in a subdivision of $400,000.00 homes and being the Beverly Hillbillies.”

In the current economic environment, a flock of backyard chickens may not be the difference between prosperity and poverty, especially in one small town in one state, but it certainly does affect a few households.Β  When comparisons are being made to the Great Depression it isn’t hard to assume that for many people, every dollar matters, especially when it comes to a families’ food budget.Β  It’s difficult to comprehend why the city is choosing now to enforce this ban.

This isn’t the biggest news story or a far reaching cataclysmic event worthy of note, but one small example of bad government at work.Β  Having an ordinance on the books and enforcing it can be two separate things, if used judiciously it could be utilized only in extreme cases.Β  For example the law could be cited for the person who has thirty loud roosters on the their apartment balcony and disrupts an entire neighborhood, while ignoring the rural chicken keeper whose chickens aren’t adding to noise pollution or being a public nuisance.

Marye is now faced with the decision of continuing abandoning her chickens and source of cheap, free range, organic eggs or openly violating the law and risking the consequences.Β  You can read about Marye here as she describes her situation in her own words.

Laws pertaining to livestock and pets are made by local municipalities and can vary widely.Β  Check a terrific website here to read about the local backyard chicken laws in many towns throughout the United States.Β  If you don’t see your city listed here, check your local ordinances or contact city hall for more information.

For more information on laws affecting urban farmers, read about one Urban Farmer Cited for Illegal Composting in Los Angeles, or read about a New California Law Protects Farms Against Genetic Engineering Threats on PlanetSave.

Image credit: Lilly M at Wikipedia under a Creative Commons License.

7 comments
  1. Bea Raikos

    Isnt it wonderful how people running cities and towns make laws but don’t enforce them until they feel like it. Like they didn’t know this family had chickens? Our desire to live a sustainable life style will be fought at every angle. Get ready, there will be more of these types of stories. Maybe we should have laws against the laws! Something like this..If this ordinance has not been enforced in 17 years..plain and simple… WRITE IT OFF!

  2. russ

    Having chickens in the backyard means you have a sustainable life style?

    I believe it is a lot more complex than that plus many other items one can follow up on.

    Δ°f you want livestock then live in the country. Personally I would not care for any noisy, stinky chickens in the next yard – and they are noisy & stinky at best.

  3. Marye

    Hey, thanks so much! The support I have gotten has been overwhelming and the story has been circulating. The city seems to be waffling a little… so we’ ll see.

    It is important that Americans stop giving away their freedoms. The government isn’t even taking them, we seem to be happily trading them for the false sense of security we are offered in return. It is important to note that ultimately the government is not going to take care of you. We should be helping each other and leaving government out of the equation as much as possible.

    Thanks again! This was an awesome post.

  4. Marye

    Sorry, I meant to add to Russ… We have 2 1/2 acres and have one house on the left side of us,no houses on the other, no houses behind us (we back up to a wide creek ravine) and our house is approximately 1/2 acre back from the road. We are not in a subdivision, nor do we have such an abundance of chickens that they are noisy or smelly.

    2 large dogs in a small back yard can also be noisy and smelly, but no one seems to be harassing dog owners. As far as whether or not we are trying to live a sustainable lifestyle? We have dairy goats which the city says is *probably* not an issue. They *think* we can keep them. They even said we could probably have a cow if we wanted. Just not chickens. We use solar energy in the barns, and try to grow much of our own vegetables. My husband became disabled so we are not moving forward as fast as we planned, but we are still moving in the direction of sustainability the best we can.
    I hope this reassures you that my family is not the equivalent of Ma and Pa Kettle Move to Beverly HIlls 90210.

  5. Kelly

    Totally agree on the dog issue as a comparison. The dogs in central Austin are out of control with loud, continuous barking and their ahem, excrement piling up smells plenty more than the entire chicken coop at a local organic farm that has about 50 chickens.

    It’s not all about cost either – the chickens you raise yourself give you the control over what they eat and what drugs they ingest – unlike the over processed old eggs you get at most grocery stores that control your entire food chain.

  6. Robert

    This is a little late to get in However, I am facing a similar problem. only I am in the country on 12 acres, I have free ranging chickens. and a neighbor who has been hating the fact that i live with my grow children on the same ranch. Her children don’t ever visit her. Chickens are one of the most beneficial animals on this planet. They eat bugs and help balance that population so we don’t have to use so much poison to keep the bugs out of our lives AND THEIR GIVE EGGS! It seems to me that some people think because you don’t live their lifestyle they have the right to make you live their lifestyle. If you don’t want chickens fine but leave the person alone who wants them. As long there is no harm leave it alone! This country has become more divided by politicians in the last 25 years then I can ever remember, (Iam 60 something). It seems they think they can form bad laws because someone screams loudly and that a bad law will give them an edge. what they have forgotten is they work for us. If they don’t represent us with balance they are going to find out how powerful ‘We the People. . . really are!
    The first definition of law is ‘to instruct’, so maybe we need to invite our local representatives back to school, our school and teach them to represent us with fairness or we will settle they retirement plan once and for all. The Idea that our reps are in control is idiotic. Their jobs are temp positions at best not lifetime bureaucratic. If they want to eat the junk from the groceries store fine but don’t force law abiding people who take their own responsibility for their own health to eat that same body killing food. Especially when they are feeding themselves and lessening the burden on the rest of society. Ok I guess I’ve had more then 2 cents worth to say So I’ll let someone else talk. Thanks!

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