Keeping chickens in the backyard has mushroomed into a national phenomenon in recent years, driven by a growing interest among consumers in knowing where their food comes from and ensuring its quality. Numerous pro-chicken groups such as “backyardchickens.com” have sprung up, and a company called”mypetchicken.com,” which sells baby chicks and chicken-raising equipment, has catapulted into one of the nation’s 5000 fastest growing companies. Several cities -- among them Boston. Salem, and Springfield in Massachusetts -- have passed rules allowing them. New York City has one of the most lax set of rules regarding backyard chickens, and there are reports of hundreds of backyard coops throughout the city.
Backyard chickens are chiefly raised for the high quality eggs that they produce, which are said to be nutritionally richer and much better tasting than store-bought eggs from largescale farms. They are also voracious eaters of insects, including ticks and garden pests. Gardeners prize their manure, which is rich in nitrogen. There are hundreds of breeds of chickens available in a surprising array of colors, appearances and traits.
Numerous Amesbury residents already have chickens in their backyards. Chickens are typically kept at night in small buildings, called “coops,” and let out during the day into backyards or fenced-in areas called “runs.” Hens usually lay an egg every other day or so.
Scorzoni said he’s open to suggestions from the other councilors and is willing to amend the ordinance if certain issues need to be addressed. He added that he’s received a lot of positive feedback from residents and is confident that the measure will pass.
“This ordinance has generated a lot of ‘eggscitement’ in town,” Scorzoni joked.