A Wilson Times Co. publication · Serving Southern Nash County Since 1947

No love for chickens in Bailey, Middlesex; backyard birds OK in Spring Hope

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No fowl play is allowed in Bailey and Middlesex, making Spring Hope the only bet for anyone who simultaneously wishes to live in a southern Nash County municipality and raise a handful of chickens.

Bailey and Middlesex forbid keeping chickens — or any form of livestock — inside town limits, according to the towns’ ordinances.

Spring Hope permits fewer than seven hens. No roosters allowed.

Spring Hope Town Manager Jae Kim said the town board adopted the chicken ordinance in August 2012 after starting in April of that year with the planning board.

“There were multiple meetings regarding that topic,” Kim said. “I think the origin of the chickens started with several residents wanting fresh eggs by owning hens. As for the rooster, it is very typical of these types of ordinances to restrict roosters because of their crowing.”

While exceptions are made for areas of town that might be zoned for agricultural purposes, there’s no grandfathering in a pig or two. Owners of newly annexed areas of Spring Hope have 90 days from the effective date of annexation to bring their property into compliance, according to Chapter 4 of the town’s Code of Ordinances.

Chickens are allowed, but don’t plan on running a real-life Old MacDonald’s Farm in Spring Hope. Just like the other two towns, Spring Hope prohibits cows, horses, swine, goats, sheep and other livestock.

The request to keep chickens has grown popular in towns and cities over the past several years, Kim said.

“As for other livestock, I think they only allowed for chickens due to the ability to pen them as it is regulated,” Kim said. “It seems goats or other type of livestock would be more cumbersome to restrict their movements unlike chickens where this seems to be more widely accepted or used.”

Spring Hope chickens must be kept in coops or runs, which can be a fixed or mobile structure and can’t be kept within 10 feet of a property line. The coop or run must be kept in a clean and sanitary condition.

“The run or coop must be built so that the hens are raised and kept in a humane condition. The run or coop must be kept and maintained so that no nuisance shall be created by the odor produced by the run, the coop, or the hens therein,” states a portion of Chapter 4, Section 4 in the town code.

Hens cannot be slaughtered within the town limits. Hens that die have to be removed or disposed of within 24 hours of the owner learning of the bird’s death. If buried, the hen must be placed in a hole at least three feet deep no closer than 300 feet to any flowing stream or public body of water.

No rules about chickens exist in the unincorporated portions of southern Nash County because unlike municipalities, county governments cannot regulate livestock, said Nash County Planning Director Adam Tyson.

“There could be homeowner association covenants that prevent chickens, but the county has no rules on it,” Tyson said.

Of note, Bailey is home to the late Jack Finch, a famous conservationist known primarily for his efforts to save the eastern bluebird. As a state-authorized bird sanctuary, no birds can be killed in Bailey with the exception of hawks, crows, starlings, pigeons, blue jays and domesticated fowl.