Backyard chickens will need KDH Board’s OK

By on March 14, 2012

(N.C. Cooperative Extension)

With more people trending toward healthy, home-grown food, numerous blogs and websites are devoted to their care and keeping. They go by various names, including urban chickens, backyard poultry and suburban hens.

Now, two couples want to become part of the growing move toward local food production and raise chickens at their Kill Devil Hills homes. But first, the town’s zoning code will have to be changed.

In the town’s ordinance, domestic fowl of all kinds are part of a prohibition against keeping livestock within town limits.

The request by Rob and Susan Rollason and John and Kathleen Wasniewski will get a thorough airing by the town’s staff and Planning Board. The process will include a public hearing.

Commissioners introduced the request at their meeting Monday night. Considerable information has already been gathered, including ordinances from other towns on keeping hens.

Manteo, for example, allows a maximum of six chickens and no roosters. Specifics on containing and maintaining them are included in the ordinance.

Information supplied to the Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners also included “Seven Urban Chicken Myths” by Patricia Foreman from Backyard Poultry magazine.

Among the myths, Foreman wrote, are that chickens spread disease, are noisy and create odors.

Avian flu being spread from chicken to humans is rare, Foreman wrote, and the roosters, the males, are the noisy chickens.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that chickens can be a source of salmonella, so safe handling and education are important as the trend toward raising urban chickens grows.

Besides delivering eggs, chickens leave behind another bonus: Their waste is high in nitrogen, Kathleen Wasniewski told the board. So unlike pet waste, it breaks down with compost and can be used for gardens.

“Ten chickens produce two thirds of a pound of waste per day, whereas a 40-pound dog can produce three quarters of a pound, and that’s just one dog,” she said.

Chickens also are said to be good for bug control, including mosquitoes.

After the request is researched and heard by the Planning Board, it will probably come back to the commissioners in late May or early June.

See the request »

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May 24, 2012 8:57 pm

I live in KDH and would love to have chickens. I agree there should be no roosters, I hate em as much as my neighbor would. But i loooooove fresh eggs, fertilizer for my plants and mosquito control.


April 2, 2012 3:08 pm

You are far more likely to contract Salmonella from fast food or products in the meat and dairy cases in the supermarket as there are 1.2 million cases of Salmonella reported in the U.S annually.

If you are truly concerned about Salmonella and its vectors in the home environment then you should focus on other sources like reptiles. Over 70,000 people a year contract Salmonella from reptile pets. BTW: they are allowed in KDH with no restrictions.


April 2, 2012 11:56 am

Exactly Haterade! The outbreaks of Salmonella you mention occurred in an environment under strict laws and subject to regular Health Department inspections. Imagine what would happen if those requirements were abolished as would be the case with chickens in your back yard!

That story, by the way, was updated to include 92 individuals – many of whom were children:


April 1, 2012 9:19 am

OMG! 39 cases of Salmonella across 16 states with a total population of 110 million people. So your chances of getting Salmonella during that outbreak were roughly 1 in 2,820,512.

By contrast the Salmonella event centered around Taco Bell in Oct/Nov 2011 affected 68 people in 10 states.

In Aug 2011, Cargill recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey after 111 people became sick from Salmonella in 31 states.

In summary, the contemporary food supply (Supermarket, fast food) is a higher risk to the general population than chicken hens in my backyard.


March 28, 2012 8:52 am

Here are a few lines from a story entitled, “39 Ill from Salmonella Tainted Chicks, Ducklings,” written by Mary Rothschild and published on June 10, 2011:

“A multi-state outbreak of Salmonella linked to backyard chicks and ducklings has expanded to affect 39 people in 15 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.”

“Eight people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella in Ohio; six in North Carolina; four in Kentucky and Pennsylvania; three in Maryland and Virginia; two in New York and Tennessee; and one in Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia, the CDC said.”


March 27, 2012 3:23 pm

“University Park upholds ban against backyard chickens”

“The Delaware Planning Commission on March 7 unanimously voted to amend city ordinances to ban chickens and other barnyard animals”

“Port St. Lucie city council decides against backyard chickens”

“The licensing and standards committee voted unanimously against asking staff to study the impact of legalizing urban chicken coops”

Etc. etc.


March 27, 2012 6:31 am

Not true Haterade – most cities vote to keep chickens on the farm! New York City for example: “A city council in Westchester County voted against a proposal Tuesday night [March 20] to allow residents to keep chickens on their property.” The proposed change would have allowed homeowners to keep up to six chickens if they have at least two acres of land and adhere to a number of conditions regarding pens, and roosters would have been prohibited.”


March 26, 2012 9:25 pm

New York City, Los Angeles, San Antonio, St. Louis, Tampa, Seattle, and Oakland are just a few cities that allow chickens. In case you haven’t been to any of these places they aren’t exactly rural farmland.

This area, and Kill Devil Hills in particular, have been pushing for more sustainable living and backyard hens is clearly a move in that direction.


March 25, 2012 2:48 pm

colington doesnt want you Jenny


March 24, 2012 11:43 am

If you want to play farmer, go live on a farm. The zoning ordinance is there for a reason; most citizens don’t want to live next to a petting zoo. No thanks to chickens, goats, and sheep. But I do like cows. Can we get zoning changed to permit two or less cows per person per household? Cow poo can be used to heat our homes and cook our food!


March 22, 2012 8:03 pm

My neighbor composts and has chickens too! Now I have swarms of fungus gnats in my home along with numerous cats and wild animals hanging around.


March 22, 2012 7:48 am

Does anybody know when the ordinance will be voted on??

beach livin'

March 22, 2012 7:38 am

i would say just forget the roosters. if your are looking to breed your girls, then get the rooster. just stick with the hens, and when they stop laying after a couple years, send them to “freezer camp”. you can purchase the chicks from local breeders. just an option for those who are going to complain about the roo’s.


March 20, 2012 6:56 pm

If this passes, as I hope it does, there will surely be requirements for keeping them fenced in. That makes the “Key West” argument pretty lame. Why would you want your chickens wandering all over the neighborhood laying their eggs or getting killed by dogs,raccoons, possums etc.

As far as the noise factor? Please! My neighbor’s constantly barking dog is far more annoying than a few chickens or even, heaven forbid, a rooster. Also more annoying are fireworks, revving motorcycles, booming “music” and domestic disturbances. All part of my neighborhood ambience. Give me a break!

beach livin'

March 19, 2012 5:48 pm

Ed- yes, there are hundreds of breeds. some docile, some ornamental, and some fighting. You just have to see what your family needs. If you want an all around good breed, look into the rhode island reds or orpington’s. very good mix use; meat bird and egg layer.


March 19, 2012 1:06 pm

I don’t see any property values falling in Key West at all! Much less because of chickens. Pick another argument Jenny.


March 19, 2012 8:12 am

Chickens are not detrimental to property values. Neither the house with chickens nor the neighbors value would be affected.

As for what neighbors think…can’t control that. Some of my neighbors have 2 or more large dogs. None of which sought my input before introducing these animals to the neighborhood. Those dogs produce far more noise and waste than a flock of chickens could. Dogs are a much bigger public safety risk. When was the last time a child was mauled to death by a chicken?

Quit tilting at windmills and educate yourselves.


March 17, 2012 5:30 pm

I love chickens, Lets not start KILLING squirrels the foxes the racoons the hawks, Lke the NPS did with the damb PLOVER. They were here first!


March 17, 2012 2:08 pm

maybe Key west better suits you dreamer we would rather have chickens here!!


March 17, 2012 12:43 pm

Just remember that chickens are not nearly the nuisance that people can be!


March 17, 2012 12:16 pm

Nice job. Blocking someone’s comments makes apparent that your style of journalism only advocates what fits into your parameters of a vision. Go hump a tree.


March 17, 2012 10:18 am

I certainly hope the forthcoming restrictions regarding backyard chickens in KDH are not overly burdensome. There are enough ordinances already on the books to address any potential noise and/or nuisance issues that may arise.

Furthermore, KDH and SS are the only areas in the county with governmental prohibitions on owning chickens. It is time to lift one of the most absurd bans placed on property owners.

Props to those that submitted this request and kudos to being well prepared for your presentation to the KDH BoC.

Evelyn Rollason

March 17, 2012 9:42 am

Back in the mid-80′s I had a couple of Rhode Island Reds at my house on West 3rd….had to have them on the “down low” due to “livestock” regs….would love to have some once again…”Lucy” laid large brown double-yokers…great tasting….and Rhody’s are so sweet tempered! And I had pretty flowers, too!


March 17, 2012 1:26 am

Key West has chickens running all over the place.


March 16, 2012 9:55 pm

To beach livin,

Are some breeds more docile than others? Don’t have any so just asking. Thanks.

beach livin'

March 16, 2012 5:49 pm

To those that oppose, would you say they are a worse problem than feral cats, dogs, and sea gulls? Most backyard chickens are kept in enclosures that meet specific measurement requirements. Heck, my girls have a beter set-up than my dog, and they have never wondered into someone elses yard. They do not chase or harrass people. They are sweet natured, and very docile. Just like any pet owner, you must be responsible for your animals. Dont assume the Outer Banks will be just like Key West.


March 16, 2012 11:35 am

What a selfish and ill thought out idea. How about these folks take into consideration any neighbors they currently have. Perhaps the pro-hen folks should add to their property value by upgrading what they already have instead of downgrading everyone else’s value by adopting farm animals.

I think Dreamer has the experience and forethought on this topic.

Unbelievable. If it gets approval, it will only make Colington look that much better.


March 16, 2012 11:02 am

I can’t believe what I’m reading. The three new members of the board are willing to consider a change to the zoning laws in order to ACCOMMODATE a request for chickens. These are the same three, plus their friends, who accused the previous board of changing things to accomodate Lowes. Are chickens going to help the local economy and provide much needed jobs?

What do you want to bet this passes?


March 16, 2012 6:50 am

Hope it passes. Good comment from TKO.


March 16, 2012 6:35 am

Well in nags head we should have roosters, everyone is already up cause of the refuse trucks making so much nosie. The public works assit director says, thats the way it is in nags head.

OBX Dreamer

March 15, 2012 11:04 pm

This is not a good idea. Having lived in Key West, Florida for decades and now a move to OBX, I personally can attest to these chickens become a nuisance. They can be aggressive and with or with ordinances roosters are sure to become a problem. To date, after more than a decade or two, KW still does not have their situation under control. They escape, defecate everywhere and harass and intimidate pets. This is not a positive move for OBX im MHO.

Stan Clough

March 15, 2012 9:36 pm

Sounds like a good Idea. I remember as a child we had baby chicks around easter , I think they were painted. I was actually thinking about that recently, a place in Norfolk sells them. Cool.


March 15, 2012 9:26 pm

I hope this passes, sure would like to be able to have them up here in ss. I not sure but i think dogs bite harder then chickens and we can have them. and you would not even know if you stepped in chicken poop, but they would never let you take them to the beach during the tourist season. Keep up the fight!!


March 15, 2012 9:15 pm

Great idea. I live in the suburbs and have neighbors who have hens in the back yard. They’re fenced in and never bother anything. Someone nearby owns roosters, because they are often seen walking around the Sonic parking lot. Nobody has reported them that I know of. Yes, people have to survive, and if it means living closer to animals and the land and saving dollars, them I’m all for it!

beach livin'

March 15, 2012 7:39 pm

I see no issue with this. I am partial though. I do keep hens myself, and do thoroughly enjoy the fresh eggs and. I am sure there are some floks that are uneducated on the matter, and will probably fight against it, but those of us that keep a simpler life can kindly educate them :) I have done loads of research and will urge everyone to keep and raise back yard chickens. The government at one time urged Americans to do their part and raise their own poultry ~ 2 hens per household member. If KDH votes this down, there is something seriously wrong.

Island Safety

March 15, 2012 4:01 pm

AND..I’m told they will eliminate the sandspurs and devil finger cactus in your yard!!!!!!!

KDH Rezident Evil

March 15, 2012 2:07 pm

Why this place, I say, this place could stand to use a few more chickens.


March 15, 2012 12:56 pm

No roosters is a sure bet… so I doubt they will be disturbing anyone’s sleep.


March 15, 2012 11:31 am

I so hope that the KDH Planning Dept. staff, Planning Board, and Commissioners will change the ordinance to allow backyard hens. From everything I’ve read…as long as no roosters are involved and hawks or other predatory birds are kept at bay, keeping a small number of chickens seems to be a 100% positive experience. Glad to hear this request has started off on a positive note.

KH res

March 15, 2012 10:02 am

Chickens are great. My neighbors 4 houses down had some and they worked great as an alarm clock. They woke me up every morning just before the sun was coming up. I didn’t even need an alarm clock.

Chip Holcomb

March 15, 2012 9:39 am

Raising backyard chickens has grown in popularity across the country. Chicken keeping is just one of many small choices that contribute to a more environmentally sustainable way of life.

The World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report suggests several solutions to help cities become more sustainable: One of these solutions is to reduce the footprint of food by optimizing the relationship between the distance it is transported and the efficiency with which it can be locally produced.


March 15, 2012 9:35 am

A good idea without much of a downside. Obviously it must be fought tooth and nail until passsage is inevitable, then politicians can say they were behind it the entire time.


March 15, 2012 8:28 am

I don’t see an issue with this.


March 15, 2012 8:26 am

dont let these chicks become “free range” chicks..might get near a bridge thus closing it/them down and trapping us homosapiens on this sandbar………..Wait ! Thats it ! As a closed society we’d start to die off..become an endangered group ( cannt use the tribe word, thats protected) thus gaining US “rights”. Then we could fish where we wanted , walk on any beach…..just think of it….. :o) Wondering, are those folks gonna raise “chicken nuggets”. If so, I wanta see one. Y’all enjoy… :o)


March 15, 2012 8:15 am

Chickens provide great entertainment! Laughed too hard at Manteo chicken owners trying to catch some that had escaped the yard recently. Hours later I saw random chickens hanging out by the weather tower.


March 15, 2012 8:00 am

Great to see some folks getting involved in the backyard homesteading movement… now let’s see if we can get Colington to allow some chickens too! Fresh eggs… yum.


March 15, 2012 7:54 am

Sure hope this gets passed – I’d love some fresh eggs!

Native son

March 15, 2012 6:37 am

Good luck,tried raising layer hens a few years ago,dogs and otters put me out of business in one night.It’s a good thing if you are successful.

Capt. G.

March 15, 2012 6:31 am

Let ‘em have hens. Many lots in KDH are 50 feet wide and that’s just not enough space for roosters. All you have to do is stay a few nights in Bahama Village in Key West to know how bad it is to have the roosters 30 feet from your bedroom in the mornings.

Having a ‘containment’ ordinance. Your chicken in my yard = my chicken.


March 15, 2012 5:47 am

Let’s hope the board doesn’t chicken out and fowl up these folks plans.


March 15, 2012 12:52 am

My Beagle can produced at least a pound a day of waste, but she can also remove a pound of cat waste per day as well. So That’s waste neutral if you think about it.

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