It adds a requirement that pens have to have a mesh roof or suitable cover. Another new requirement would be that areas should be maintained to prevent the accumulation of mud or manure. It would prohibit stockpiling of manure as well.
“You can’t create a nuisance,” planning assistant Elizabeth Robidoux.
The proposed language spells out that a nuisance constitutes interfering with someone’s enjoyment of their own property, “by being offensive, annoying, dangerous, obstructive, or unhealthful.”
The idea behind the regulations is to improve the code enforcement officer’s ability to respond to complaints, she said.
“We wanted something a little more stringent for roosters,” Robidoux said.
Southern New Hampshire towns typically control backyard farms through acreage or lot setback restrictions.
Salem requires people to have 5 acres to raise chickens. Plaistow uses setback requirements. Cages have to be 100 feet from a lot line in Plaistow.
Three years ago, Windham replaced an acreage requirement with lot setbacks recommended by the state.
Jim O’Toole, poultry manager for Dodge Grain in Salem, said it’s a good idea “Agriculture in the Classroom” chose chickens this year.
“In recent years, there’s been a big jump in the number of large, backyard flocks. Every year it keeps growing,” O’Toole said. “People are looking at them as a blend of a farm animal and a pet. We try to teach them a farm animal is not necessarily like a new dog, cat or guinea pig.”
Chickens used to be seasonal business for Dodge Grain, which has customers throughout Southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts.
But O’Toole said it’s now year-round. The business sells 10,000 birds a year, most of them chickens.
“There’s been an increase in the number of residential people who want to have a small flock of three, four or five chickens,” he said.