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Debunking Common Myths About Backyard Chicken Flocks

Neighbors resistant to your backyard flock may harbor common misconceptions about chickens. Here are the top seven myths, and ways you can avoid them.

by Ana HotalingJune 30, 2021
PHOTO: Capri23auto/Pixabay

One of the greatest obstacles to overcome when winning your neighbors over to the pro poultry side is their potential pre-existing notions about chickens. Those not raised on a farm or around poultry tend to rely on often-unsubstantiated rumors as the basis for their beliefs.

Unfortunately, once ingrained, hearsay may be hard to dispel. However, with patience—and the following seven facts—you should be able to bust some of your neighbors’ “myth-conceptions.”

Chickens Smell Bad

Believe it or not, chickens are remarkably clean animals. They spend a large part of their day dust bathing and preening their feathers. If there’s an unpleasant smell wafting around the neighborhood, your backyard flock is not its source.

Your coop, however, may be.

Spilled chicken feed, soiled litter and chicken droppings can all create a nasty smell, especially if left to decompose in situ. The accumulation of ammonia generated by decomposition is extremely unhealthy for your flock—and for you — so be certain to clean your coop and run regularly.

Not only will you protect your hens’ health, but you’ll also ward off complaints about foul fowls from your neighbors.

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Chickens Are Noisy

Some neighbors may complain that the serenity of the neighborhood has been shattered by the constant noise issuing from your backyard flock. If you keep roosters, your neighbors may have a point, since roosters do indeed crow around the clock.

Most towns and cities, however, prohibit keeping roosters because of the noise they generate.

With the cock-a-doodle doos out of the way, all that’s left is the gentle clucking of your hens. A hen may squawk when startled—and who wouldn’t?—and may sing a brief “egg song” the three or so times she lays each week. But the vast majority of the time she will be seemingly silent, her clucking almost sub-audible.

Compare this to the noise made by lawn mowers, weed whackers, children playing, dogs barking, power tools, stereos and more. Who exactly is shattering the peace again?

Chickens Attract Vermin

The presence of chickens will draw dangerous wild animals such as raccoons, coyotes and rats into the neighborhood. At least, that’s the misbelief common to many suburban and urban home owners who fear your poultry will attract every rabid carnivore within a five-mile radius.

The truth of the matter is that such backyard staples as wild bird feeders and pet bowls are far more likely to attract vermin than your tidily kept coop. So are garbage bins, backyard compost bins and even barbecue grills.

Indicating this to your songbird-loving, dog-owning neighbors may put them on the defensive, however, so approach this subject with caution.

Chickens Will Lower Property Values

A primary concern for residents in your neighborhood may be one that hits them right in the wallet. They don’t want your keeping chickens to cause their homes to lose value.

They may view your owning chickens as the first step in your inevitable transformation into a Beverly Hillbilly … and they don’t want you taking everyone down with you.

If this is the case with your neighbors, gently remind them that, as a home owner, you’d never do anything that would endanger the value of your house. Furthermore, your town’s ordinances clearly and strictly regulate poultry keeping to prevent this very thing.

It may interest your neighbors to know that no documentation exists indicating that backyard flock keeping lowers property value. In fact, it’s just the opposite: cities across the country, including Phoenix, Madison and Raleigh, have showcased homes with microflocks in annual “Tours de Coop.”

Some developments even include chicken coops as an add-on selling point for new homes.

Read more: Interested in starting a neighborhood coop tour? Here’s how!

You Need Roosters to Produce Eggs

Chances are the folks next door never studied poultry anatomy in school. They mistakenly assume that, since a male and a female are required to create babies or kittens or puppies, a rooster and a hen are required to create eggs.

Technically, they’re not completely incorrect: both a rooster and a hen are necessary to create chicks. Shell eggs, however, happen without the help of a rooster. They are produced naturally by a mature hen’s reproductive system … no boys needed.

Hens Lay Eggs Every Day

If this were the case, we’d be saying farewell to our feathered friends far more frequently, never mind all the surplus eggs. Many storybooks mislead children into believing that hens spend their days sitting on their nests, laying endless eggs. And those children grow up to be your neighbors.

Gently explain that, while a few breeds, including the White Leghorn and the Golden Comet hybrid, produce five or so eggs per week, most chicken breeds average three eggs per week.

Egg laying takes a huge toll on a hen, drawing both protein and calcium from her body. As a result, she needs to rest, recover, and replenish what she has lost, resulting in a handful of eggs per week … and none at all during winter.

Why? Because hens require a minimum of 14 hours of daylight in order to lay, and daylight hours are at a minimum during the colder months.

Read more: Want winter eggs? You can add coop lighting to keep birds in production.

Brown Eggs Are “Dirty” & Blue Eggs Are “Bad”

It’s absolutely understandable why your neighbors may think your hens’ beautiful brown and blue eggs might be filth crusted or simply rotten. The eggs they have known all their lives are pure white and come from a supermarket, not a nest box.

Let your neighbors know that these colors occur naturally rather than through gross negligence on your part. Explain that eggshell color depends on the breed of the bird that lays the egg … and that eggs come in a wide variety of colors including sky blue (Araucana), pastel pink (Easter Egger), and chocolate brown (Copper Marans).

Use this opportunity to introduce the breeds you raise and the color eggs each lays. You may end up with new customers interested in trying out the multicolored eggs from your backyard flock.

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