Neighbors' Chickens

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Neighbor's chickens are a nuisance

Jan 2014

The scene: long-time residents of Berkeley, moderate income, finally saved enough to do some landscaping in the backyard, including a small patio area which induces visions of lovely, relaxed Sunday morning coffee or leisurely meals with friends. They love it!

Next: family moves in directly behind them, so they are back-yard neighbors who share a back fence. No issues there! Until: we realize said family has animals with them! As soon as they moved in, we were absolutely BOMBARDED with endless squawking, screeching, honking, snorting, screaming, and whatever other assorted noises chickens and ducks can make. There goes the relaxation, right? And it's not just occasional, it's constant. Well, ok, maybe playing music can help ( though we're not always in the mood for music loud enough to drown out squabbling animals, but I digress...).

But! That's not the only problem with said farm animals who live along our fence line. The bigger problem: they STINK! We aren't sure if it's poop, old eggs, feathers, rotten food, or a combination thereof, but our lovely patio area (along with other areas of our yard) REEKS. The smell is nauseating, and honestly prevents our use of our whole backyard.

The question: what to do? Yes, we've tried speaking with them, and although they do have other options for location of the outdoor ''coop'' (or whatever it is that keeps them abutted against our fence at all times) and they did say they would ''do something'', nothing has been done

This seems really unreasonable to us. Anyone have ideas? Can stench be considered a ''public nuisance'', and if so, who do we contact? Are there no rules or guidelines for keeping farm animals in the city? Can they be kept regardless of huge negative impact on neighbors? If we were to complain, who might we be complaining to?

Anyone have ideas, or dealt with similar issues? Chicken/duck poison, anyone? J/k... We are completely frustrated and honestly can't believe this is ''ok''. If politely asking doesn't work, what might you do if you were in our place?

Thanks so much for your advice. Overwhelmed by foul odor

Sounds like a good time to brush up on your city codes and get face to face with the city officials. We had a similar situation in my city (Contra Costa - El Cerrito). Our neighbors had chickens, which brought with them, noise, stink, flies, raccoons, rats, etc. Often the chickens would get out and come into my yard. Sometimes the raccoons would kill them and drag them into my back yard blood, feathers and all. The 5 cats and large dog would lounge in my yard as there was no room at their house. Before my son could play our fenced in back yard we would have to do a ''poop'' patrol. I diligently combed through the code and permit process for livestock for my city. This information should be posted on your cities government website. I was able to find out that chickens and chicken coups cannot be located w/in 90 feet of a dwelling or a neighbors dwelling (fence and all). In addition, a yearly permit fee was required to have a chicken which was quite lucrative (read hundreds of dollars). We had approached our neighbors several times nicely about the situation with no resolution or compromise. So I had no reservations in filing a complaint at the city level after months of issues. Once the complaint was filed the city was required to come out and take a look. It was IMMEDIATELY apparent that the back yard farm was not conforming to the ordinance and also a permit was never pulled to have the chickens (and all the other animals that came along). I believe the code enforcement officer stated ''why didn't you bring this to our attention sooner''. Our neighbors were cited and elected not to pull the necessary permits. Shortly the coup was gone and the chickens were sold. While Berkeley has different codes, this might be an avenue to look into. Best of luck! enjoying our space again

There is a really down to earth urban garden guy who has kind of a mediator personality. I think he does free consultations - maybe asking for tips on how to manage your side of the fence and conversation? Halliday Dresser (Wabi Gardens). 415-494-9445. I've been maintaining a coop for 10 years, and neighbor issues are important!! Good Luck with opening up a conversation! I tend to check and re check for these exact items you are citing. An empathetic coop owner in Berkeley

Each city has specific rules re how many clucking, honking, etc creatures you are allowed to have. I suggest you go to City Hall and persist until you fnd out the exact rules in Berkeley, then document the mess and have the cops over for a visit to independently verify this.

I have backyard chickens and am very insistent on keeping the chicken yard clean. If neighbors find the smell too much, then someone's lazy about cleaning up after the chickens. Or, they have too many chickens/ other pets: San Francisco for instance only allows four of each of these types of pets. Responsible Chicken Owner.

Neighbor's Chickens Attracting Skunks - STINKY!

June 2011

We live on a corner lot and our neighbor directly behind us has chickens. The chicken coop is about 50 feet from our back door. The neighborhood skunks are attracted to the chickens at night. They come through the area, sometimes right by our bedroom windows, and spray. Of course, this isn't such a big deal when it's chilly and all the windows are closed. But, when it's warm and the windows are open it is seriously stinky! We are getting skunked multiple nights a week. We're afraid to sleep with our windows open for fear of being awoken by skunk spray. Instead, we keep the windows closed and get a hot and fitful night's sleep. So, what to do? I'm sure the neighbor isn't going to get rid of the chickens. The City of Berkeley has stated that they do not trap wild animals. Anyone have a method for keeping the skunks away?

Eeeeeek. I think I would send the neighbors a copy of your posting. If I knew I was causing that type of aggravation to my neighbors, I would be deeply ashamed. But beyond that... maybe you can locate some foxes? If the City of Berkeley can't take care of the chickens, I know the foxes can! farm girl

I doubt it is the chickens that are attracting the skunks. Your neighbor isn't letting the skunks eat the eggs and chickens, is she? The skunks have probably found a cozy spot under the coop to den up. I recommend that you talk to your neighbor about modifying the foundation of the coop so animals can't get underneath. Skunks seem to have become more numerous over the past few years. I think it would help if everybody excluded them from warm cozy spots like the areas under sheds and other outbuildings. anon

There is only one solution to your skunk problem---Eat More Chicken! Other than that you could try a fence as skunks can't climb as ground dwellers. They might try to dig under a short fence but they won't climb over. They tend to be creatures of easy opportunity that follow their noses to find food along an easy route. Something like a dog or cat must be spooking them to cause the spray. Electric fences will work but the first few times they get into it they will automatically spray but then learn not to come around that area. anon

The skunks might be going for the chicken food and/or water. Ask your neighbors if they can take in the food at night, not leave it out all day, etc.