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07 September 2011

New Council Rules for Poultry


Image from Come Home to Health


I spent most of last night, drafting a submission to my regional council in response to some proposed changes to the local bylaws for keeping animals in our region.

Currently, the rules are that anyone may keep up to 20 head of poultry on their property, with provisos made for the type of enclosures that the poultry should be kept in, including distances from boundaries and adjoining properties. The current rules are very reasonable, and there have not been huge numbers of complaints relating to poultry in the region, but because the council was recently amalgamated from about five separate shires into one, the rules had been a bit higgledy piggledy with all five regions having a different set of rules. The council, understandably wants to change this so that it is easier to administrate, which is quite acceptable and reasonable.

What is not reasonable, though, is the severe reduction of poultry numbers under the proposed new rules. The council proposes reducing the number of poultry permitted from 20 head down to only 6 head.
My submission to council on this change is below.

In their vision for the Sunshine Coast, the regional council states that the aim is to make the Sunshine Coast: "Australia’s most sustainable region—vibrant, green, diverse." I support this vision 100% but I have to say that I question how this vision can be held on the one hand, and yet the proposed new rules for animal management within the region appear to counter it.

Local Law No 2 (Animal Management) 2011 Subordinate Local Law No 2 (Animal Management) Schedule 3  2011 will preclude the ability of the average family to raise their own poultry for eggs and meat.

The average chicken lays eggs for a maximum of 2-3 years and then must be replaced with new point of lay or laying hens. Purchasing new hens as older ones go off lay is not sustainable.  In order to operate in a sustainable and self-sufficient way, roosters are required for the purpose of breeding more chickens so that a reserve of chicks, pullets and hens is readily available.

Residents should have the right to grow and produce their own food within reason and should not be subjected to overly punitive rules which make it difficult, if not impossible for the average family to provide an adequate living from their own property. I believe that a middle ground can be found which will satisfy all Sunshine Coast residents and contribute in a real and positive manner to council's stated vision for a sustainable, green and diverse future.

Recommendations:

I submit that the council revise the proposed rule on the keeping of poultry to reflect the following:

Up to 20 poultry or birds can be kept on an urban property if they are adequately enclosed to prevent escape and the enclosure is not within:

1 metre of a side or rear boundary
10 metres of a residence or any dwelling on adjoining premises
10 metres of a road.
Feed should be maintained in a manner which prevents vermin access

The enclosure must have a minimum floor area of one square metre per bird and be constructed so it can be hygienically cleaned.

It is recommended that a deep litter system be used to absorb any potential odours. Deep litter should be replaced at least annually and disposed of as garden mulch or in a tied bag in waste bin.

On any other land than rural land, a license is required to keep a rooster. For such a license to be granted evidence of a suitably constructed and attenuated enclosure including night boxes for management of noise and membership of local poultry club or online forum must be provided.

I know that I am not the only resident making a submission, and so far, the ones I have seen are quite similar to mine. I really hope that the council will see reason on this and revise the proposed rules to properly reflect their vision for the region as far as sustainability and diversity is concerned.

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