Craig youth to speak with city council about domestic chickens
July 25, 2011
On Tuesday, 11-year-old Jeremy Looper will enter Craig City Hall, step up to a podium, and make his case to the city council.
"I plan to present what the advantages of chickens are," he said.
Currently, it is illegal to have domestic chickens within city limits.
The issue has come up, however, at two recent city council meetings.
First, on June 14, Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta discussed the issue of fowl in town.
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Then, on July 12, Craig resident Jim Meineke addressed the council, and asked for the ban to be lifted.
Jeremy, who will soon enter sixth grade at Craig Middle School, said he hopes chickens can eventually find a roost in Craig.
"I've always wanted chickens," he said. "We were just about to get chickens when my mom found out there are no chickens allowed in Craig city limits."
The Looper home is located just inside city limits in the Ridgeview neighborhood on the west end of town.
Another reason for Jeremy's presentation is his membership in Boy Scouts Troop No. 172, based in Maybell. He is working on his Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge.
"One of the requirements is to find an issue in your community … and find what branch of government is responsible for the issue," he said.
Jeremy said he's learned of many advantages to domestic chickens through researching the issue online.
"Fresh eggs are … better than store-bought eggs," he contends. "They have tons of nutrition in them, unlike some store-bought eggs. The have minerals and vitamin C, and some other vitamins."
Chickens also help reduce the burden on landfills, he said. Leftover food that normally goes into the trash can go to chickens.
"If you have chickens, you don't have to waste food because they eat almost anything. They're carnivores. They'll eat all sorts of stuff," he said.
Jeremy added that the propensity of chickens to eat almost anything makes them a viable mode of chemical-free insect control.
"They'll peck at anything to see if it's tasty, and if they think it's tasty, they'll eat it," he said. "So, if you have a lot of bugs in the grass, they'll just eat them away."
Chickens can help with lawn control, too, Jeremy said.
"They're also lawnmowers. They'll clip your grass. They won't eat it all the way down, they just clip it," he said.
Chickens may also help the grass grow greener, Jeremy contends.
"They're a rich source of natural fertilizer. Their manure is really good for plants," he said.
Jeremy acknowledges that last item is fodder for opponents.
"The manure does smell," he said.
Other potential drawbacks include noise, Jeremy said. But noise can be mitigated through regulation.
"Roosters are the ones that make noise, so you can just allow (hens)," he said.
Allowing chickens within city limits has precedent, as well, Jeremy added. Denver, Grand Junction, New Castle and Steamboat Springs have ordinances that permit small flocks.
Some of those communities require permits and coops, and set limits on the number of chickens according to lot size.
Many of those communities do not allow roosters, he said.
Jeremy's mother, Cindy Looper, said her son's political action is not surprising.
"He gets his outspokenness from his mother," she said. "If he wants something, he's willing to work for it."
Father Randy Looper said he tacitly supports the idea.
"I think chickens are fine," he said. "It's not something I'm thrilled with, but he wants it. And, like Cindy said, if he wants something, he'll go do it."
Cindy said chicken ownership makes sense for the area.
"We're a rural community out here. We enjoy that fact, we relish in that fact," she said. "If you can ride four-wheelers through town, why can't we have chickens? Seriously."