Chicken broods can grow

Members of the Keizer City Council approved an increase to the number of backyard chickens permitted in Keizer, and added ducks to the mix, at its meeting Monday, April 20. 

The decision to relax development code restraints on backyard fowl was not without its detractors however. 

Councilor Marlene Parsons was the sole vote against it. 

“I don’t think we should raise the limit because they are not very neighbor friendly. I will not vote for six and I will not vote for ducks. Ducks quack and dogs bark and it’s a constant nightmare,” Parsons said. 

In addition to raising the number of allowable birds, the action on the part of the council also did away with a permitting system. The permits were free and largely a way for city officials to gauge the interest in urban chicken ownership. Roosters are still banned.  

A handful of enthusiasts turned out to advocate for raising the limits, and including ducks, at a Keizer Planning Commission in March.

“Duck eggs are bigger and more nutritious and they keep up production through the winter,” said resident Erica Arcibal at the planning commission meeting. Adding drakes also isn’t the noise problem that roosters can become while offering protection for the females, she added. 

Councilor Kim Freeman applauded residents for turning out to talk about the issues surrounding backyard fowl and coming armed with information that helped commissioners arrive at their recommendation. 

Arcibal offered written testimony for the city council’s public hearing, which was held via teleconferencing. 

Some residents hoped to remove the stipulation of keeping chickens confined to coops and suggested six-foot fencing was enough to contain the birds, but that suggestion didn’t pass muster with either the planning commission or the city council. Owners will still need to maintain active supervision when chickens or ducks are outside coops or keep them locked up. 

Councilor Dan Kohler had no issue with raising the limits, but stressed owner responsibility. “As long as they are properly cared for, it’s probably okay,” Kohler said. 

The city’s new rules on chickens and ducks do not supersede those of home owners associations such as McNary Estates. 

The council also changed another portion of the development code unrelated to birds with its approval. Homeowners had been limited to three-and-a-half-foot fencing in front yards, but changes in manufacturing have made fencing less than four feet tall hard to come by. Four-foot fences are now permitted in such spaces.