Maintaining a backyard hen house has become an increasingly popular practice in New Hampshire, with rates of chicken ownership on the rise after years of decline.
State law does not address keeping poultry for personal use, which leaves policy on the issue in the hands of New Hampshire's cities and towns.
Municipal rules will often address minimum acreage for keeping chickens, or set limits on how close a coop can be to a dwelling, property line or road. Some also set a cap on how many chickens a household may have, while others allow for unlimited birds.
Recently, Manchester land use regulations viewed as too restrictive to poultry proponents have lead at least one citizen to start a petition to encourage the city to lighten up its hen-keeping rules.
Proponents argue citizens should have a right to farm, and that town zoning and land use laws should be updated to allow for household poultry production whenever safely possible. They also maintain that keeping hens can be helpful for a family's food production and provide a valuable experience for children.
Opponents express concerns that chickens can be a nuisance in terms of both sound and smell, or note that the birds can be linked to outbreaks of salmonella and other diseases. They express concerns that keeping hens could lower neighborhood property values.
For information about rules relating to owning chickens in your community, contact your town offices.
Would you support allowing backyard chickens in your town? Leave a comment below to join the discussion.