To the editor:
I was troubled to see the faulty logic that seemed apparent in the Journal-World reports about efforts to prohibit chickens in the city. While there is evidence that small children can contract salmonella if they handle chicks and don't wash their hands, a better response to this concern would be to educate parents about the risks of letting children handle baby chicks. Do we really want our government telling us we may not engage in the age-old practice of keeping a few chickens to lay eggs for us?
There are many benefits to keeping chickens. For one thing, they produce eggs that are much more nutritious than those you can buy at the supermarket. (Testing by Mother Earth News found that, compared to official USDA nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain a third less cholesterol, three times more vitamin E, seven times more beta carotene, and two-thirds more vitamin A!)
Also, backyard chickens will generally get far more humane care than those raised in crowded factory farms. Industrial production is creating numerous problems, including pollution from manure, antibiotic resistance and higher risk of a more dangerous strain of bird flu.
Keeping a few chickens at home is one way people can help address these problems. Limit their numbers, and require clean, humane care, yes. But there is no legitimate reason for the city to prohibit keeping a few chickens, any more than there is reason to ban the keeping of dogs or cats.