News – for Mar. 28, 2011

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No crowing within town limits

Can you feel the love? Some roosters in the state of New Jersey may not feel it too often as a township plans to limit their conjugal visits with hens.

“It’s a noise issue,” said John Hart, a farmer who helped draft the chicken ordinance in Hopewell Township, which borders on Princeton.

The measure would limit mating between roosters and hens in backyard farms to 10 days a year and no more than five consecutive nights.

Crowing is strictly prohibited in the relatively rural town but Hart said that it could pose a problem.

“That’s basically their mating call. In the morning, they wake up the hens and say, ‘It’s time for me to take care of business,’” Hart said.

The chicken ordinance has been under discussion for three years, ever since a family wanted to erect a backyard co-op but was told by the town health department it would be illegal.

Meanwhile, Hart said, hundreds of chickens and roosters have been living in town under the legal radar as the proposed ordinance nears a final vote on March 28. Some people mistakenly think a rooster is needed for a hen to lay eggs, when the rooster is only necessary to fertilize eggs to hatch live chickens, Hart added.

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