DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Opinion

September 26, 2013

Editorial: Cock-a-doodle-don't

Backyard chicken farmers in Derry may soon be in a bit of a cockfight.

The Planning Board is revisiting the town’s livestock ordinance and most of the attention seems to be focused on the king of the barnyard.

As the ordinance now stands, residents with 1 acre or more can keep chickens in their yard. But planners are considering increasing the minimum lot size to 3 acres for those vocal roosters.

But that’s the least of the potential changes that could throw local hen houses into a tizzy.

Under the nuisance section of the ordinance, planners are contemplating this addition: “Roosters shall not be allowed to crow between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.”

Good luck with that.

Telling backyard farmers to silence their roosters is akin to telling swineherds their pigs must fly.

Fish swim, birds fly, roosters crow.

Planners may try to find rules and regulations to fit every square peg into a round hole, but the laws of nature can supersede such efforts.

Well-known prizefighter Muhammad Ali, whose own swagger was not unlike that of the ruler of the roost, once said, “A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.”

Indeed. Local roosters, too, have seen the light and many of them are crowing.

Just ask some Windham Road residents, who have appeared before various town boards this year, seeking relief from one particularly raucous rooster, inclined to let loose at 3 a.m.

Roosters crow for all kinds of reasons — they’re bored, lonely, hungry, fearful. Ali apparently subscribed to one theory of silencing the leader of the flock, which says keeping them cooped up and in the dark will muzzle the mouthy birds. It can work, but it’s not fail proof, nor fowl proof.

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