More Chicken Troubles in Columbia Heights

The original 11th street chicken when spotted back in 2008

“Dear PoPville,

I live in a row house within Ward 1 in Columbia Heights. We have a next door neighbor whom we share an adjacent wall/fence with who has recently (approximately sometime in the the last few months) been housing a very loud rooster and we think a few hens in the backyard. Notwithstanding the noise complaint, what are the regulations in this area permitting or prohibiting raising domestic fowl? Usually a running joke, the 5:30 am rooster wake up call has not always been equally as pleasant (not to mention the welfare of a rooster who seemingly survived the elements of this horrid winter!)

I know that their was a petition to amend the regulations sometime in the recent past but the coding is hard to decipher if you are new to the area and were never “officially” informed of your neighbor’s previous arrangements.”

Ed. Note: The bill stalled and it is still not legal to have chickens/roosters in your backyard in DC.

31 Comment

  • Sooooooo tempting to bring “Okra Tom” in on this one. But I’ll spare you all.

  • skj84

    Somebody should let Red know. I’m sure she can take care of the chicken for you.

  • Knock on the door and ask them to get rid of the rooster. If they refuse, tell them you’ll report them if they don’t. If they still keep the rooster, then report them – ask 311 who you should talk to.
    But if they get rid of the rooster, don’t report the hens unless they become a problem. Deal reasonably with a reasonable person.

  • What’s wrong with people? I definitely support loosening urban livestock restrictions and we’ve discussed getting a chicken, but there’s a reason you never hear about “urban roosters”. What kind of idiot does this?

    • I’m no expert, but don’t you need roosters if you want eggs?

      • You’re most definitely not an expert. The answer is no, unless you are making Balut (I’m guessing you are not).

      • Eggs are basically the chicken’s period (you are welcome) so only if you want the eggs fertilized do you need a rooster. Or as a break of dawn alarm clock. But, generally, the eggs you eat are unfertilized.

      • No, you don’t need a rooster. Most of the eggs you’ve eaten in your life have been unfertilized. The big egg companies often kill male chicks as young as they can.

        • Yes, and just to make it more clear – they often do so cruelly, throwing them alive into large piles letting them die a slow death or blending them up alive. So, if you feel that you “have” to eat eggs, backyard may be the best option.

          • Actually they gas the baby boys and grind them up for protein for the hens. That’s why I will never again eat chickens from commercial farms. People really have no idea where their food actually comes from that they consume.

            I actually own raise my own chickens at a farm I own in Maryland.

            And not all commercial eggs are unfertilized. Many of the free-range eggs will be fertilized simply because roosters are kept to protect the flock. So don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking your free-range eggs are unfertilized.

            Also hens can make just as much noise as roosters. If you remove the rooster form the flock, one of the hens will become dominate and make a “crow-like” sound. That’s why chickens are not allowed in a city. Both roosters AND hens make noises.

      • You need a rooster if you want the hens to hatch baby chickies; hens lay (unfertilized) eggs w/out roosters.

  • Call the police and tell them your neighbor keeps showing everyone his cock.

  • When I lived in Adams Morgan 20 years ago, my mother purchased a chicken at a farm to eat. Neighbors called Animal Control who came by and informed my mother that she could not have live poultry in DC. She explained she purchased it to eat and they said they would come back to ensure that the chicken was no longer there. I don’t know if the laws have changed since then.

    • They have. Chickens are now legal under certain circumstances (although probably not those outlined by the OP). More importantly, I don’t think roosters are okay.

      • Tommy Wells proposed legislation to allow backyard hens under certain circumstances but that bill wasn’t passed. Keeping chickens in DC isn’t legal

  • I have insider knowledge that the enforcement officers that would otherwise enforce this regulation have been under orders from Supervisor Jim Graham, and now Supervisor Nadeau behind him, to not enforce this regulation in Ward 1. One can only speculate the reason, but I suspect it is a self-serving decision to not offend certain groups that traditionally raise chickens (but otherwise are not eligible to vote).
    With that information, I suggest you purchase a white noise machine and earplugs.

  • I’d be cool with a sizable feral chicken population in DC.

  • Let me understand, you got the hen, the chicken and the rooster. The rooster goes with the chicken. So, who’s having sex with the hen?

  • My understanding is that it’s not illegal to keep chickens in DC but the regulations are too restrictive and roosters are not allowed. Bird flu and whatnot, but also irresponsible owners that don’t clean their stinky coops often enough. (we have a neighbor in MD that keeps a kennel of hunting dogs and they REEK.) From a 2010 article on that family on Capitol Hill: “the regulation requires a coop to be set back so far from neighbors that you would have to have a least an acre of land, which effectively denies chickens to city dwellers. Another provision also prohibits coops within 50 feet of a home, another deal-breaker in a rowhouse neighborhood.”

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