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Should the I-CLUCK petition be adopted?

BY DI EDITORIAL STAFF | JULY 11, 2012 6:30 AM

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YES

This backyard-chicken movement in Iowa City has been hampered by the strangeness of the idea — not facts, not logic, and certainly not pragmatism. The members of I-CLUCK have now amassed a 1,000-signature petition, one that proves the strength of its movement and shows once again the members aren't running around like … well, you know.

Don't let the idea of being neighbors with a farmer of mini-proportions worry you; these backyard bandits are a representation of true American patriotism. They're intelligent, they're hardheaded, and they believe in the American system of working for their needs.

A chicken raised in city limits is about as threatening as having any chicken in your general vicinity — which is to say that it's a danger to no one. If approved, citizens would have to apply for a permit to raise the chickens, and the city could require any inspection it sees fit in order to administer the permits.

Cedar Rapids and Ames, in fact, have approved this type of system. For Cedar Rapids' 126,326 residents, it has issued only 54 permits for backyard chickens, proving that there are plenty of smart people capable of seeing the benefits of the system without actually doing it themselves.

This is actually a growing movement, with the website backyardchickens.com leading as the country's premier domestic-chicken site with 150,000 members.

On the site, all of your chicken needs can be met, including breed information, co-op locators, and a forum to discuss the fine points of American libertarianism.

This is where I learned that hens can be bought for a standard rate of $5, and they can produce one to two eggs daily. And, according to a report on organic eggs by Time magazine, backyard chickens were found to be financially beneficial when the national high for organic eggs was $5.38 a dozen.

The main argument against the backyard chickens nationally is that with unregulated circumstances the eggs may have a higher chance of salmonella, but that also is an incorrect assumption, according to Food Safety News.

On each egg, there is a natural protective "bloom" provided by the hen that lays it, which protects the egg from bacterial infection. The problem is, factory eggs often wash this "bloom" off, making the egg vulnerable to such things as salmonella infection. And even worse than that, if there is one bad egg in an entire batch of washed factory eggs, it can ruin the entire group it's sorted with.

On top of that, backyard chickens also have more nutritionally beneficial eggs because of their natural diets, and they can also operate as composters, waste-recyclers, and weed removers, all while requiring very low maintenance.

The problem that I-CLUCK always runs into is the City Council, which continually shoots the group down in its pursuit of this harmless permission for self-sustainability. The council has often referred to a 2009 memorandum for its decision-making, but the issue isn't specifically addressed in the memorandum at all.

What is addressed specifically is the encouragement of small-scale and sustainable energy production, but what is more energy sustainable than one's own backyard farm? Having backyard chickens removes the factories, the packaging plants, and the trucks transporting the eggs.

This is a social issue, and one that — with time — will no longer be able to hold its ignorant defense.

— Jacob Lancaster

NO

Oh my God, will you just go away? We've been doing this dance for like five years now. The chicken dance — we've literally been doing the chicken dance for five years.

Do you know how tiring that is?

Let's clear a few things up: Chickens are not like gardens, chickens are not like pets, and chickens are not allowed in Iowa City.

This is not Mexico City, guys. I'm not looking to add cock fighting to the vices of the Sin City of the Midwest.

Oh, I know you only want hens (not cocks) to lay eggs in your backyard so you can make your own food, but that's not the way a city works, people. Chickens are farm animals. They are for the farm.

Farms are in rural areas. Iowa City is not a rural area.

Nope — there is no incentive for the city to adopt an ordinance allowing chickens to roam the streets freely.

Yes, I know you are not petitioning for chickens to roam completely free — what with your guarantee that proper, sanitary living spaces will be furnished for the poultry.

But animals get out of their cages and get hit by cars and die. And then we have dead hens on the sides of roads, and the children will unknowingly pick at their corpses and get infected by the bird flu. Or salmonella. Or E. coli. Or histoplasmosis.

Let's phone a friend. I'm going to choose the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jarrett Mitchell, a former candidate for City Council, is one of those people who support people raising chickens in their backyards.

"It provides a foundation for social fabric that cannot be quantified by money," he said at an City Council meeting July 3.

Let's unpack that a little. Letting hens lay eggs in residents' backyards in rural communities is a foundation for some sort of social fabric — I agree. It's a sort of like the social fabric in the times of the Black Plague.

Yeah, I know you have this petition, and you got a lot of people to sign it, but chickens are undomesticated, filthy, and spread disease.

If I may, this is a cock and bull issue.

— Benjamin Evans


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