Backyard birds? OKC council to consider allowing chickens in yards

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OKLAHOMA CITY - If an ordinance that will be considered by the Oklahoma City City Council passes, it would allow neighbors of the feathered kind to start moving in to local neighborhoods.

Currently, owning chickens within city limits is illegal.

Those in favor of this ordinance say chickens are not only a great source for fresh eggs, but they are great pets.

However, others opposed to the change say it's a risky move.

We caught up with one metro woman who has chickens in her backyard, illegally.

Sara, who asked that we not use her last name, has been working for five years to get the city to allow hens to live legally in her backyard.

Sara said, "They're cute and friendly and nice to be around."

If passed, the ordinance would allow up to six hens in a yard that is less than one acre in size.

A chicken coop would be required.

Chickens would have to have access to the outdoors in a backyard or side yard.

Slaughtering of the chickens would be prohibited.

The ordinance would also ban roosters.

Sara said, "Roosters are the loud ones. Chickens are not noisy at all. They are certainly less noisy than dogs."

In fact, she says her neighbors admit they rarely hear these hens.

Sara said, "Sometimes, when one of them is laying an egg, they'll make a louder clucking noise."

For people, like Sarah Penn, who are opposed to the idea, it's not about the noise.

Penn said, "One of the rules is you can't have roosters, but people do. And what happens if the chickens have chicks and they have a rooster? What are we going to do with that rooster?"

Penn says the ordinance would be hard to regulate because code enforcement can't go in a backyard.

Penn said, "I think there are a lot of things that haven't been considered."

As for Sara's chickens, she plans to keep them no matter what city officials decide.

She said, "These are real good layers and so they're good for eggs and that's what we wanted."

The ordinance doesn't only apply to backyard chickens.

It actually covers community and home gardens, composting, greenhouses, hoop houses and rainwater harvesting.

The ordinance is supposed to be presented to the council on Dec. 3.

There will be a public hearing on the ordinance on Dec. 17.

The final vote is currently scheduled to take place at the council meeting on Dec.31.

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