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Raising backyard chickens on the rise

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Raising backyard chickens on the rise
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It's a trend in the North Country. People are raising chickens in their backyard for a little fresh food. But, it's not allowed everywhere. Barry Wygel takes a look at how one town is thinking about changing its rules.


CANTON, N.Y. -- In the past couple years, people have taken more of an interest in where their food is coming from.

"I think there is also some desire to have control over what breeds, how the animals are raised, what they feed them," said Brent Buchanan, the ag issues director at Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Chickens are the popular choice for people who want to produce their own food, as they can provide both eggs and meat.

"We in the United States have developed a very, very efficient system for raising poultry," said Buchanan.

But it's not a practice that is allowed everywhere. In the Town of Canton, there are no farm animals allowed in residential zones. Some people want that to change.

"We're talking about it. But we have got to go back to those people who have bought in the residential areas without any expectation of animals in those areas, and talk with them about this issue as well," said David Button, Canton town supervisor.

One of the biggest concerns raised about letting people have chickens in their backyards are concerns about neighbors.

"People having bought in a residential area never expecting that they would see something like that in their neighbors next door backyard are concerned about how far this might go," said Button.

The village of Canton, which lies inside the town, allows chickens if residents submit an application and get neighbors' approval. But Buchanan says if chickens are raised right, neighbors shouldn't be bothered, except for the occasional rooster call.

"I don't think neighbors would actually know, except for the fact they might get some free eggs now and again, they probably wouldn't know they were even there," said Buchanan.

The Canton Town Board is beginning to look at the rule. There will be public hearings before any decision is made.

If you live in an area where raising chickens is allowed and would like more information, you can visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension's website at cceslc.com.

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