MARIBYRNONG residents are questioning the council’s commitment to sustainability after its latest order to remove backyard chickens.

In for a fight: Angela Chiew says she will lobby against the council order to remove her chooks from her backyard. Picture: Benjamin Millar

A Maidstone family was given until last Friday to re-house its three hens or surrender them to the council.

The demand followed a similar order slapped on a feathered trio that were the pride and joy of Footscray’s Eldridge Street, despite a 150-signature petition calling for them to be allowed to stay.

A council spokesman said 40 notices to chicken owners had been issued in the past 12 months. He said the most common reasons for neighbour complaints concerned chickens being in yards which were too small, an offensive smell and noise, and rats and mice being attracted to the yard. “Most matters have been resolved through communication and co-operation of the occupants to remove the chickens.”

Angela Chiew said her chickens were given their marching orders following a “misunderstanding” with a neighbour that had since been cleared up.

“She thought the chickens might have been attracting rats, but when we talked to her about it she understood they weren’t behind it,” she said. “Rats pop up regardless of chickens. They were around long before our chooks.

“We’re meticulous with their yard and the chooks would actually process the compost so quickly there was nothing for the rats.”

Ms Chiew said the chickens played a vital role in her backyard garden and would be sorely missed. The council’s ‘general purposes local law’ prohibits chicken houses within 15 metres of a dwelling, although it may allow exceptions.

The law came into effect in 2005 and is valid until the end of 2015.

The council is preparing a report examining the rule for a meeting next month, following the tabling of the Eldridge Street petition.

Ms Chiew said there could be very few homes in Maribyrnong that could ensure a 15-metre buffer from any dwelling.

“The council is running a workshop next month about keeping backyard chooks, but with rules like this nobody would be able to.”

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