News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

April 26, 2011

MS TAKES: Roosters as pets are nothing to crow about

TERRE HAUTE — My friends, the frequent correspondents, have been sending me outrageous clippings from newspapers in their areas.

Just the other day I received a clipping from the wilds of New Jersey. It seems that “Hopewell Township” (I have no idea where that is and my atlas doesn’t go smaller than counties) has passed a law to keep chickens in their place.

The law requires that a chicken fancier living in the suburbs must dwell on at least five acres of land and even then will be allowed to keep no more than six chickens.

The key word is “chickens” — read “hens.” Apparently it was only the roosters which were found offensive.

Roosters are allowed residence only 10 days a year. Presumably this is a conjugal visit required to fertilize the eggs and keep the chicken population at a steady half dozen. A clause in the law prohibits the roosters from crowing.

Good luck with that! Greeting each morning with a hearty crow is a rooster thing. You can read them the law all you like, but come dawn you are going to have a rooster in full crow. I’ve never heard of muzzling a rooster. Maybe you could cut their vocal cords? How about using duct tape to tape their beaks shut?

The whole thing reminded me of Fletcher, our resident rooster on 23rd Street. No. 1 son had been gifted with several fertile chicken eggs. So, he created a makeshift brooder and one of the eggs hatched — Fletcher. Chickens do make interesting pets and Fletch liked to go out into the yard and hunt insects — chaperoned, of course. He actually lived in the basement.

Enter my cousin who was bedded down in the family room. Come morning, Rua emerged looking wild eyed. “Liz!” quoth she, “I think I’m losing my mind. I keep hearing this chicken!”

I explained Fletcher. As he matured he roosted on the clothes line in the basement and every time a car went up the alley, the lights alerted Fletch who thought it was time to announce the dawn of a new day. Rua didn’t stay a second night.

The only sure way to shut up a rooster is to give him the starring role in a plate of chicken and noodles.

Liz Ciancone is a retired  Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to

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