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Raising Chickens in City Backyards: The Public Health Role


There is increasing interest in raising chickens in urban settings across North America. Current regulations on backyard chickens vary by jurisdiction due to concerns about perceived health threats. Proposed negative impacts on public health and community well-being include infectious diseases acquired through rearing practices or consumption of eggs, inappropriate waste management, interaction with pests and predators and nuisance factors such as noise and odour. Proposed benefits are derived largely from the human-animal bond and from feelings of autonomy over food selection. The importance or validity of claims of positive and negative effects cannot be supported by literature specific to the urban agriculture context. Public health practitioners might approach this issue in a manner analogous to concerns over keeping domestic pets.

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The authors would like to acknowledge Mê-Linh Lê and Michele Wiens for their invaluable assistance with the literature review and referencing.

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Correspondence to S. L. Pollock.

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Pollock, S.L., Stephen, C., Skuridina, N. et al. Raising Chickens in City Backyards: The Public Health Role. J Community Health 37, 734–742 (2012).

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  • Public health practice
  • Zoonoses
  • Environmental health
  • Urban agriculture