Chickens and geese are OK within reason, as are beehives, but roosters and pigs are definitely a no-no. Rabbits, horses, mules, sheep, llamas and ostriches are also allowed under certain conditions. And if you want to bring a herd of goats in to munch down that patch of grass that has grown too high that’s fine too, as long as their stay is short-lived.
Those are some of the items contained in the revamped “Keeping Farm Animals” section of the Roseburg Municipal Code that was approved on first reading by the Roseburg City Council. Final approval is expected next month.
Roseburg Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein was tasked with updating the code, which dates back to 1996, and enforcing the changes, a duty he didn’t seem all too pleased to be saddled with.
“We’re not going to run around doing a chicken count,” Klopfenstein said. “I’ve got a lot of things on my plate.”
The main proposed changes include:
- Prohibiting roosters.
- Prohibiting livestock over 50 pounds on less than 2 acres.
- Restricting the number of poultry allowed to five for most properties.
- Restricting the number of bee hives allowed on real property.
- Defining space required for different livestock.
- Specifying required livestock enclosures.
- Language clarifying permit issuance requirements and processes.
- Language clarifying permit revocation processes.
In order to keep a livestock a permit, issued by the police chief, must be obtained. Additionally, the property boundary lines must be at least 200 feet from any dwelling. If the distance is less than that, the person seeking to keep livestock must get written approval of neighbors before they will be issued a permit.
The new code goes into some detail about bee keeping:
No more than three bee hives are allowed on a property. However, a beekeeper who picks up a swarm of bees may hold them for up to two weeks. Colonies shall be maintained in small movable frame hives. Adequate space shall be maintained in the hives to prevent overcrowding and swarming. Colonies shall be requeened with a young hybrid queen annually, or as often as necessary to prevent any swarming or aggressive behavior. Hives shall not be located within 25 feet of any property line.
Other items in the new code include:
- Horses shall have a fenced corral or pasture, or a combination of the two, with a usable area of at least 10,000 square-feet for one horse, 20,000 square feet for two horses, and 5,000 square feet for each additional horse.
- Cows, mules, jackasses, goats and sheep shall have a fenced corral or pasture, or a combination of the two, with a usable area of at least 10,000 square feet per animal.
- Unless authorized by the police chief, enclosures for livestock such as barns, animal runs and poultry pens shall be located on the rear half of the property at least 25 feet from any dwelling off of the permittee’s property.
- Livestock, including poultry, shall be properly caged or housed, and proper sanitation shall be maintained at all times. All animal or poultry food shall be stored in metal or other rodent-proof containers.
- Fences used for enclosing livestock shall be kept in good repair and be at least four feet in height.
- City officials said that as with most city codes, those dealing with livestock are complaint driven. The city has received complaints recently from neighbors of residents who have livestock permits. One involved unsanitary conditions due to a large number of chickens and ducks being kept in the small backyard of a duplex. Another had to do with chickens roaming around.
Three people, including former city council member Ashley Hicks, who has chickens herself, submitted letters objecting to the restrictions of poultry, saying some people depend on raising chickens for food.
Klopfenstein said he will take each complaint on a case-by-case basis and will work with those who are deemed to have too many animals. As an example, he said he came across one man recently who had too many chickens. Klopfenstein said he gave the man adequate time to eat them.
“I’m not going to be unreasonable,” he said. “If someone is truly eating them, I’m not going to starve them.”
Klopfenstein also said the item in the code on goat herding caught him by surprise. He said the department got a request from the caretaker of a cemetery to allow a herd of goats on the property for two weeks to chew down the grass and weeds.
“I guess it’s a thing,” Klopfenstein said, adding that he was OK with idea, to an extent.
“I don’t have the resources or the time to chase a herd of goats around.”