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July 28, 2013

N.H. towns grapple with livestock issues

Towns reconsider neighborhood ordinances

In some towns, it’s not just a growing problem — it’s a crowing problem.

The popularity of raising chickens and other livestock has led to concerns in some communities over what should be allowed or prohibited to preserve neighborhood tranquility.

Towns, including Derry, have found themselves re-examining their regulations in the past few years as more people turn to raising farm animals for food and fun — especially chickens. That includes roosters, which are known for their crowing.

Although no figures were available, the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture has said the number of chicken owners in the state is on the rise. One possible factor is the repeal of a state law last year that prohibited the sale of less than 12 chicks at a time.

“With the push to have more whole foods, you see more people wanting to have their own eggs,” Plaistow Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said. “We do have a number of residents who have chickens and poultry. From time to time, we get a call and have to look over our zoning regulations.”

Having a few hens that lay eggs may not be a problem, but keeping a rooster or two can disrupt an entire neighborhood.

“If it’s 5 a.m. and someone hears a rooster, that’s the last thing they want to hear,” Derry public works director Michael Fowler said.

That’s why town code enforcement director Robert Mackey has been asked to review the town’s animal ordinance and consider possible changes, he said.

Several Windham Road residents recently complained to the Town Council that a neighbor’s rooster is crowing at all hours of the day and night.

“It’s a public nuisance,” Maureen Heard said. “It wakes us up at 3 or 4 a.m. It is really a frustration.”

Neighbor Robert Tripp said Wednesday he’s been awakened as early as 2 a.m. and has had enough of his neighbor’s rooster. The former Planning Board member said he’s reviewing livestock ordinances in other towns to see what action Derry could legally take.

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