Hens and roosters would only be able to mate 10 days out of the year in one New Jersey town under legislation being considered to limit noisy rooster crowing.
“The resident went to the township wanting to build a chicken coop, and the township told him it wasn’t legal unless he had five acres of land,” Hart said.
That was the beginning of a long and complicated effort to create an ordinance allowing chicken coops in residential areas.
The current version of the ordinance strikes a truce between families who want to raise chickens and residents who fear that crowing roosters will disturb their sleep.
Under the plan, roosters will be allowed into chicken coops for conjugal visits ten days out of every year. No rooster can stay longer than five consecutive nights.
“The roosters will crow when the sun rises, when there is a full moon, you never can tell exactly when a rooster will crow,” said Hopewell Mayor James Burd. “But if the person wants to show their children the life cycle of a chicken you need a male and a female bird.”
According to Burd, Hopewell has modeled its ordinance after one in nearby Cranbury Township. However, “their ordinance is much more lenient than what we have.”
In Hopewell, a person owning five acres or more can have an unlimited number of chickens and livestock, and a person owning three acres can have a horse.
However, no farm animals are currently allowed on smaller property. The pending ordinance, scheduled for a vote next month, would allow residents with half an acre to keep chickens on their property.
Hart said chickens can be an important part of life for many families.
In addition to serving as a source of fresh food, chickens can also make great pets.
“When children raise the chicks from a young age they interact with the children better,” Hart said. “Chickens are also cheaper than a dog or a cat.”