Fargo Commissioners Cleaning the Coop of Vague Backyard Chicken Laws

Clucking soon to a neighborhood near you...

FARGO, N.D. — A national movement to grow your own food is ruffling feathers in the FM area.

Fargo city commissioners have passed a new ordinance on backyard chickens.

Some health officials said the rules were too vague before.

“People want to know where the food is coming from,” said Kim Lipetzky, a Fargo public health nutritionist.

Urban farmers can have no more than four chickens.

Health officials said this number limits the potential for bad smells.

Roosters are not allowed since they can be noisy.

Advocates said there are many benefits to keeping your own chickens.

“The manure can be composted into fertilizer, they will eat the food scraps so there’s less food waste for the household, and they can also eat bugs and pests in the yard,” said Lipetzky. “A lot of advantages to keeping chickens.”

Under the new ordinance, you can’t slaughter your own chickens, but you can still use their eggs.

“The eggs are wonderful and a great source of protein,” said Lipetzky. “Chickens can make good pets and companions.”

Coops can’t be in the front yard, must be three feet away from the home and chicken feed must be kept in metal predator proof containers.

We asked Peter Keefe, a Red River Zoo farm keeper, if he has advice for chicken keepers-to-be.

“With any animal, it’s important to check life, water and food,” said Keefe. “You have to make sure they’re healthy and active, you have to make sure they are adequately fed and you have to make sure they have enough water.”

Keefe said because of how often they lay eggs, they need a lot of calcium.

The zoo does this by putting crushed up oyster shells in their food.

For substrate, they use a combination of wood shavings and straw to keep smells down.

He told us chickens need plenty of space.

“You need at least one nest box space per chicken,” said Keefe.

We tried reaching out to backyard chicken farmers for comment.

Some of them said they got angry letters from neighbors over their chickens when appearing in past interviews.

The rest have not yet called back.

The new ordinance becomes law after the second reading.

Lipetzky said there’s a good chance the law will pass.

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