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A crucial vote is happening today in Bossier City that will decide the fate of what some people claim is a way of life.  That way of life includes raising chickens in the backyard, a practice that is currently forbidden in within the limits of Bossier City.

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The Bossier City Council Will Discuss The Legality of Chicken-Keeping In The City Limits Today

According to a report from KSLA, the Bossier City Council will discuss and take an initial vote on repealing a city ordinance that prohibits "poultry to be raised in the city limits for commercial purposes or otherwise."  As strange as it may sound, the proposal before the council today has hundreds of supporters in Bossier City.  A Change.org petition urging officials to allow residents to keep live chickens in their backyard had nearly 300 signatures at the time of this report.

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There is a Growing Movement of Backyard-Chicken-Keepers Across the U.S.

This move comes on the heels of a growing movement of chicken-keepers across the country who claim that direct access to eggs and fresh poultry is healthier and ecologically friendly.  Groups like Back Yard Chickens (BYC) on Facebook provide a robust network of small-scale chicken ranchers to share advice and concerns with each other.  That group alone has more than 325,000 members, and it is growing every day.

Lady scientist in microbiology laboratory working with E coli culture

The CDC Has Serious Health Concerns About Backyard Chicken Operations

The CDC's concern is that backyard poultry operations carry the risk of disease.  According to their official website: "poultry can sometimes carry harmful germs that make people sick."  Specifically, the experts are worried about diseases like Salmonella - which was linked to more than 1,100 cases and 2 deaths last year alone.  Officials urge anyone who keeps chickens in their backyard to follow these tips found on the website:

  • Wash your hands
    • Always wash your hands with soap and water immediately after touching backyard poultry, their eggs, or anything in the area where they live and roam.
    • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Consider having hand sanitizer at your coop.
  • Be safe around backyard flocks
    • Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them. This can spread Salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick.
    • Keep your backyard flock and supplies you use to care for them (like feed containers and shoes you wear in the coop) outside of the house. You should also clean the supplies outside the house.
  • Supervise kids around flocks
    • Always supervise children around backyard poultry and make sure they wash their hands properly afterward.
    • Don’t let children younger than 5 years touch chicks, ducklings, or other backyard poultry. Young children are more likely to get sick from germs like Salmonella.
  • Handle eggs safely
    • Collect eggs often. Eggs that sit in the nest can become dirty or break.
    • Throw away cracked eggs. Germs on the shell can more easily enter the egg through a cracked shell.
    • Rub off dirt on eggs with fine sandpaper, a brush, or a cloth. Don’t wash them because colder water can pull germs into the egg.
    • Refrigerate eggs to keep them fresh and slow the growth of germs.
    • Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm, and cook egg dishes to an internal temperature of 160°F to kill all germs.
  • Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these severe symptoms:
    • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
    • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
    • Bloody diarrhea
    • So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down
    • Signs of dehydration, such as:
      • Not urinating (peeing) much
      • Dry mouth and throat
      • Feeling dizzy when standing up
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Even If Bossier City Allows You To Keep Chickens In Your Backyard, There Are Limitations

Even if the proposal passes, there will be restrictions to backyard-chicken operations in Bossier City.  If passed, these restrictions would apply:

  • No male poultry (roosters) will be allowed for any purpose
  • Only six hens will be allowed per acre
  • All poultry must be kept in a coop at all times
  • All poultry must have their wings clipped
  • The living conditions need to be “odor free, clean, and orderly”
  • Residents cannot raise poultry for commercial purposes
Ballot box with person casting vote on blank voting slip

Today's Vote On Backyard Chickens In Bossier City Isn't The Final Step In This Process

Today's discussion and vote will determine if the proposal will go back to the council for a final vote.  According to the report, the measure will have to receive at least 4 votes to reach the next step in the process.

Update: After a unanimous vote, the Bossier City council has decided to keep the ban on backyard poultry operations within the city limits.  Read more here.

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