Chicken fanciers flood city hall, city to consider new fowl ordinance July 24


Ulysses has become a very chicken-friendly town.

The Ulysses City Council met in regular session June 26 and the big item on the agenda was an ordinance to allow residents to keep chickens on their property within the city limits. While many residents already keep chickens within city limits, it is currently against the law.

But that’s probably about to change.

The council originally heard from chicken fanciers at its June 12 meeting, but wanted residents who were against keeping chickens inside the city to make their voices heard so it could consider both sides of the issue. A request on the city’s social media and reports in the Ulysses News, however, failed to bring about anyone who was anti-chicken to the June 26 meeting.

Joshua Martin spoke in favor of allowing chickens and explained why.

“Chickens can provide a family with food, especially in these hard times, with eggs or their meat” Martin said. “By owning chickens, you avoid supporting the industrial farms that produce the majority of the eggs that are sold here in the United States where hens are kept in such close inhumane quarters that they can’t stretch their legs, walk around, or even socialize with other chickens.”

Martin added that, aside from the initial coop expense, the average egg costs $3 a dozen; chickens serve as composters for kitchen scraps, and their feces can be used as fertilizer for gardens. Chickens eat pests and make great pets that can help children learn responsibility, Martin added.

Martin had a message to anyone who says chickens attract rodents.

“Everywhere there are people, there are rodents, and beyond that, there are still rodents; you don’t always see them, but they’re there,” he said. “The rodents is essential to the balance of our ecosystem they keep the insect population check, they clean up decaying material and contribute to other animal diets. Rodents don’t become a problem until we create the right conditions for an infestation.”

“He said securing feed and keeping the coops clean decreases temptations for rodents.

Even some chicken fans are not too fond of roosters because of the crowing, but Martin pointed out that “hen song” is 70 decibels and a rooster crow is 90 decibels, compared dog barks, which can reach as high as 100 decibels and a screaming child 120 decibels.

Addressing the smell, Martin added that a properly-kept chicken coop should not smell and if the chicken-keeper maintains good practices, smell won’t linger.

“With the right measures, such as number of chickens one can own - though I do not think there should be a limit - no roosters - if that’s still an issue - or keeping chickens confined to your property with proper care as required with owning cats and dogs, we can coexist with chickens,” Martin said. “With Ulysses being a highly-agricultural area, it only makes sense to allow its residents to keep chickens responsibly with reasonable rules and regulations.”

Jamilin Lorenson - who spoke during public forum regarding fireworks - said she is pro-chicken but anti-rooster.

“You have a whole town with a whole bunch of roosters, you’re going to have a lot of noise and decibels are going to add together,” Lorenson said. “So, with a dog, if its barking at 2:00 in the morning there’s rules, you can fill it out and you can turn it in and you can be ticketed for the dog barking; you really can’t do that with roosters.”

Lorenson asked who would be responsible for rounding the chickens up if they get loose, and if animal control has to pick up chickens, where will they be kept.

“We have a lot to discuss,” said Mayor Tim McCauley. “And that’s why we need info from the community, what everybody things - pro, cons, whatever.”

Deion Rodriguez of Ulysses has chickens, and said they are great to have around with his young children.

“Everybody has their own opinion on what they feel about having them here in town, Rodriguez said. “I think it could be a good thing so you don’t have to drive all the way out to the farm to do it and you have a few in town and you have a big enough yard and your coops built right, they shouldn’t get out.”

When asked about raising birds for meat, its Administrator Luke Grimes said his thought would be to not allow butchering in town based on his discussions with the state and local law enforcement.

“So much of what we are going to put forward is going to be for the worst case scenario,” Grimes said. “You’re obviously going to have people that are very, very skilled chicken owners - know what they’re doing, very intentional about it (but) you’re going to have people who are just going to buy chickens and they don’t know anything about it and they don’t really care. So things that we do put forward are going to be with that mind.”

When asked about dove and quail, Grimes said he couldn’t find a reason why those fowl shouldn’t be allowed if chickens are.

“My idea on a meat bird, we’re going to put a limit on how many you can have if this does pass,” Grimes added.

As far as number of birds allowed, Animal Control Officer Anne Langston said four to six.

“Personally, I love chickens, they do teach a lot of responsibility to children,” officer Langston said, saying there’s already a ‘Chicken-At-Large’ problem in some parts of town, and also a fox problem, which she said  would get worse with more chickens in town.

Langston is not opposed to chickens if they are taken care of responsibly, but pointed out she’s anti-rooster because of cock fighting.

“I wanted you do be aware that it is an issue in town already,” she said.

•A copy of the proposed ordinance is available on the City’s Facebook page, the Ulysses News Facebook page, Ulysses City Hall, and at The council will consider a vote on the ordinance July 24 at 5 p.m.