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Upset about registering all backyard chickens, no matter the flock size?

You’re not alone.

By Richelle Gerner, Rootbound HomesteadPublished about a month ago 3 min read

Starting this fall, all poultrykeepers—even those with a small backyard flock of just a few birds—must record their flocks on the national register. There are mixed emotions on the subject, and we want to know what you think about the whole thing if you have a flock here in the U.S.

At the moment, in the UK, only birdkeepers who maintain 50 or more birds must turn in their information. However, this is being extended to all poultrykeepers as part of a Great Britain-wide initiative to improve disease control in the aftermath of recent avian influenza outbreaks.

Do you think registering every bird is a good idea?

In recent years, the trend of raising backyard chickens has soared. Now many individuals are after producing their own fresh eggs at the same time connecting to where their food comes from. However, amidst this poultry popularity boom, news of government registration requirements for backyard flocks have sparked conspiracy.

Why is this important, and why should you care way over here in the U.S. with your small backyard flock? Some are worried it’s an invasion of privacy and just another way for them to keep an eye on those who are gaining self-sufficiency and off-grid living away from prying eyes. Ask backyard flock-keepers in Maryland; they already have this rule in place, no matter their flock size.

“By registering their birds, keepers will ensure they receive important updates relevant to them, such as local avian disease outbreaks and information on biosecurity rules to help protect their flocks.”

While this statement is helpful for keeping an eye on and tracking avian flu, a small backyard chicken keeper with six birds is hardly enough to write home about.

“In order to improve surveillance, the registration will also be used to identify every birdkeeper in disease control zones.”

This is a great idea in theory, but it also means they will be able to identify every birdkeeper, period. Information from bird keepers will be required, such as contact information, the address where the birds are housed, and specifics about the birds (species, quantity, and purpose of keeping).

Mandatory registration may inadvertently discourage people from keeping backyard chickens altogether. The bureaucratic process and associated costs could dissuade potential chicken keepers, depriving communities of the benefits associated with urban agriculture, such as food security and sustainability. If we can’t grow our own food, we have to keep buying into theirs.

“Registration is another tool in the toolbox to safeguard bird health, along with stringent biosecurity measures.”

So why are backyard flock keepers so upset?

Backyard flock keepers are nervous about outside surveillance. From what I'm hearing, chicken keepers are stating it's an infringment on their rights. What hobby farms do in their spare time shouldn't be anyones business, as there's already a fight going on with our broken food system. As people pull away and become more self sufficient, some think local governments are looking for ways to keep track of things, and having to register your chickens is a great way to open that door. The other red flag people are raising is data privacy. Where are they storing all this information on who is becoming self-sufficient?

Biosecurity from backyard bird hobby farms is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion. It’s crucial to question the effectiveness of mandatory registration in achieving its actual goal. While people may argue that registration enhances disease surveillance or facilitates response in cases of outbreaks, the actual impact of such measures on public health and safety may be minimal compared to the burden they impose on citizens.

Instead of imposing mandatory registration, local governments could explore alternative approaches to promote responsible chickenkeeping and address any concerns related to public health and safety.


About the Creator

Richelle Gerner, Rootbound Homestead

Rootbound Homestead is a community bound by roots. Leaving our old comfy life in FL to move to NY to start living cleaner, more simply, and with purpose. Garden hacks, tips and tricks, natural medicine, healing, animals, recipes and more!

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