Why are cattle allowed in the Pulaski city limits but not chickens?
That is the question that Pulaski Alderman Vicky Harwell asked her fellow board members to consider during this week’s work session.
“I think this board has always tried to serve people in like manner,” Harwell said. “I think we’ve always tried to stand on the purpose of the decisions we’ve made and to treat our reasons for any action with consistency just like our purpose. And I’ve had several people stop me to talk about how there are cattle, cows in the city limits but we’re not allowing chickens.”
Harwell stressed consistency when asking the difference between cattle in and around residential neighborhoods versus chickens.
“Do chickens carry disease? Some of them can,” Harwell said. “Do they excrete waste? They do. Do flies land on that waste and carry it to other folks? Yes, I’m sure.
“But consider cattle,” she continued. “We allow cattle within two blocks of a fast food restaurant and in a highly and densely populated neighborhood. Do we have any constraints on that cattle? We have nothing on the books. They’re just allowed.”
Harwell said she lives within a half mile of where chickens were once kept and where cattle are currently allowed, noting that the cattle make just as much, if not more, noise than the chickens.
She suggested that the health and safety risks for either chickens or cattle are the same.
“If I’m having a picnic would I prefer that fly that lands on my burger to have sat on chicken poop or to have sat on a cow pattie? It makes no difference to me,” she said. “I prefer neither one, quite frankly.”
Harwell restressed her stance that the city council should remain consistent in either allowing both chickens and cows or allowing neither in the city limits.
Alderman Randy Massey said he would like to revisit the issue of allowing chickens in the city limits, but noted that it must not include roosters due to the noise.
“We need to really go back and take a hard look at this and see why we can’t amend that ordinance to allow the chicken and not the rooster,” Massey said.
Harwell said she was on the board when the issue of chickens in the city limits was first considered and noted the board stood on the idea of airborne diseases and other health and safety issues when the original decision to ban chickens was passed.
“But I ask you, what’s the difference in cattle?” she said.
Noting that all types of wild animals can be found in the city limits that also carry diseases, Alderman Ricky Keith turned to the question of cattle versus chickens.
“It’s not in the best interest in my opinion for the city to accommodate farm animals in the city limits,” Keith said. “There was a reason we don’t have chickens in residential areas now and maybe we should take that same reasoning and apply it to the cattle and so forth.”
Keith suggested reaching out to other towns with large livestock ordinances for guidance.
Massey brought up dogs, noting that from a sanitation point of view if owners are not cleaning up behind their pets or even their cattle there is little to no difference in having chickens.
City Administrator Terry Harrison reminded board members that there are a lot of large tracts of land that are not usable for residential use because they are in a flood plain, or in industrial areas.
Those areas he said are currently agriculture, with most being used for row crops, but could be converted by their owners to pasture land.
“How big of a problem is this?” Alderman Pat Miles asked. “It doesn’t sound like it’s that big of a problem.”
“It’s not,” Harwell said. “We just need to be consistent.”
The board decided to move further discussion of the issue to its next work session.