By Tyler Danke, in his recent newsletter from Purely Poultry.
For people who want to own chickens, but cannot due to local ordinances, it may be difficult to believe that the Department of Agriculture once issued posters encouraging people to keep chickens (see below). But, it’s true. During WWI, the Great Depression, and throughout WWII, American citizens were told to plant gardens, keep chickens, preserve produce, car pool, and take other frugality measures.
Comparing those times today creates a stark contrast. Today, there are reports of families being fined for having gardens in the front yard, when gardens were once a sign of patriotism. Prospective flock keepers all over the country are fighting for the right to have a few hens, whereas in the past, having a few hens was seen as the right thing to do. People were more likely to think you were odd for not having some fowl!
Obviously, much has changed in the last 80-90 years, and in many ways we are better for those changes. But declaring chickens illegal does not represent positive change, and in many cases, chickens remain off-limits due to ignorance. Despite the fact that people who keep chickens know that they aren’t “nasty” there is a widespread public perception that they are, indeed, nasty. And loud. And smelly. And possibly disease-ridden.
It takes work to educate people and to show them the benefits of having a few birds. We know that lots of our readers are working hard to help change laws related to keeping chickens, and we would like to help. Here are a few links to resources that may be beneficial to you. Also, we would love to hear about your situation, so please feel free to share your story on our Facebook Page. You never know, someone in our community may have some good advice (they usually do!).