Breeding flocks need one rooster for every 10 hens to be successful. 

You know, fertile eggs, baby! As in eggs that can produce little chickee chicks. With Santa Barbara County’s new rooster regulations, you can’t really breed a flock of more than 10 hens on less than 1 acre, 20 chickens on 2 to 5 acres, and 50 hens on properties with more than 5 acres. 

Not to harp on the county’s new roost rules for a second week in a row, but the dust kicked up at the last meeting made me curious. 

Chicken limits aren’t included in the rules, per se, but that’s what the reality of the new ordinance means for hobbyist breeders and poultry show enthusiasts. There are exemptions for large poultry ranching, reasonable family uses, educational poultry projects, or other “legitimate” agricultural activities. Is being a chicken hobbyist legitimate?

I guess it depends on who you ask. Cebada Canyon resident Eduardo Ramos purchased his property because it was agriculturally zoned. He saw that it was “the right place to keep his fowl because of zoning.” His flock numbers 140—meaning he needs more than 10 roosters to keep those hens laying. 

“Then I started to hear rumors saying that I fight roosters here. I don’t,” he said. “I don’t know why they persist on that without any evidence.” 

And yet, persist they do. Anonymous letters submitted to the county as public comment on the ordinance—having names blacked out on consecutive public comment letters is super strange—make wild accusations and spread rumors about cockfighting operations breeding with abandon in Cebada Canyon. They call their neighbors liars. Sounds like a nice place to live, huh? Friendly.

Was Nextdoor not accessible enough to you folks? You had to take things to another level? 

One resident said that those housing roosters changed their story to say they are raising birds for poultry shows.

“If this is the case, let’s see the 4-H show pictures,” the resident wrote, not realizing, maybe, that adults can’t actually participate in 4-H. “These roosters are not for breeding or showing.” 

Yeah! They’re for crowing! 

And, let’s be honest, that’s really the main issue that people have with roosters. These brave, anonymous Cebada Canyon residents probably don’t give a cluck whether the roosters are boinking hens or fighting for their lives. What they do care about is the noise. 

Too much cock-a-doodle-doo! 

Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, whose district holds Cebada Canyon among other rooster-impact areas of the county (yes, that’s a thing), said that “noise complaints consistently rank among the top issues brought to my office, affecting the quiet enjoyment of homes for many residents.” 

Hmm. Interesting. I guess people living in agricultural areas aren’t expecting agricultural noise? 

This little ordinance seems to be a tad too stringent, for folks with legitimate operations, something 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson took issue with. It didn’t take into account, for instance, the hens’ needs. Everything has needs. If the limit was say one rooster per 10 chickens, it would make more sense—agriculturally

“When you live in ag zoning, you’re going to have animal noises,” Nelson said. “It’s concerning when we start to use urban criteria on ag properties.”

The Canary is always anonymous. Sorry not sorry. Send guesses to [email protected].

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