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  • Shirley Harriman

L.A. supervisors seek to limit roosters in unincorporated areas.

Los Angeles – County Board of Supervisors – In a letter dated September 25, 2018 and addressed to The Honorable Board of Supervisors, Animal Care & Control is asking for approval to the recommended amendments to Los Angeles County Title 10 – Animals to add provisions relating to the keeping of roosters in the County.

Community meetings regarding the rooster provisions were held from January 31 in Lake Los Angeles through April 11 in Topanga. The Antelope Valley meetings were in Lake L A, Antelope Acres Town Council and Acton/Agua Dulce Public Library.

The Department held ten community meetings in various parts of the County to gather input from residents. The Department also received emails and letters from residents expressing their opinion on the restriction of roosters. Many of the people who opposed the restriction of roosters attended every meeting. The meetings in Lake LA and Acton were packed houses. Some of the attendees came from other counties and would not be impacted by the proposed ordinance but came to support those who have chickens and are involved in chicken raising activities. It was reported that at times during the meetings their opposition intimidated Los Angeles County residents into silence. The Antelope Valley did not experience intimidation but full support from each other.

The report is 26 pages so only highlights are what can be covered in an article. A copy of the letter, the analysis and the Ordinance are at the library in Lake Los Angeles for anyone who wants to read the whole package.

The purpose of the Keeping of Roosters chapter is “to limit the number of roosters that may be kept on a single property to reduce public nuisances, illegal cockfighting, the raising of birds used for cockfighting and to protect the health and safety of the County's residents. For purposes of this section a single property is defined as any parcel or combination of parcels operated as one unit.

It is unlawful to keep or maintain on any single property more roosters than are listed in the following table without an animal facility license:”

Size of the property and the maximum number of roosters is under Rooster Keeping Requirements:

Less than one-half acre 2 roosters One-half acre to one acre 4 roosters One to five acres 6 roosters More than five acres 10 roosters

The ordinance will go into effect 30 days after its second reading at the Board of Supervisors meeting. However, the Department will only issue warnings for the first three months after passage of the ordinance to give rooster owners time to rehome their roosters. During this time, the only enforcement activity will be in response to complaints or criminal activity (e.g. cockfighting). The recommendation to the BOS from AC&C is to introduce, waive reading, and adopt the Ordinance.

One constant in the listening sessions was raising poultry is a great hobby for our children and keeps them busy and out of trouble. LLA and surrounding communities have FFA and 4-H members. How will this ordinance impact our children’s poultry activities? County’s response is: Section 10. 38.010 C.3 provides that 4-H and FFA members will be able to continue with their projects provided they have the proper documentation to support their involvement in one of these organizations. The Department encourages the development of animal welfare-minded youth.

One question that came up at all three sessions was low income residents raise chickens for food, for themselves and to share with neighbors. They have no control over the sex of the chick when it is born, and do not want to be penalized for creating roosters. County’s response: “The ordinance doesn’t define chicks as roosters until they are at least six months of age, or have adult plumage, or are capable of crowing, so it won’t matter how many baby roosters are born. Chickens are slaughtered at approximately 13 weeks of age, so this ordinance won’t affect their use as food. Additionally, hens lay eggs without the presence of roosters, so it is not necessary to have roosters to raise chickens for food.”

County was often accused of this being another way to create a revenue stream and to raise money. County’s response is: “There is no license requirement, and therefore no fee for the allowable number of roosters depending on the size of the property. A rooster owner who wants to keep more than the allowed number of roosters will pay a nominal fee of $25, which includes an annual inspection to ensure the well-being of the birds, proper sanitation, and to confirm that there is no evidence of cockfighting.”

If this ordinance will be successful in curbing illegal cock fighting is yet to be seen. To read all of what is being presented to the BOS, you can read the copy that is at the Lake Los Angeles Library.

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