Group petitioning Hanahan to allow backyard chicken coops

A Hens for Hanahan group wants to change the law to allow the pets. (WCIV)

Thanks to the farm to table movement, backyard chicken coops are popping up in countless neighborhoods.

It’s a popular trend around the Lowcountry, but it’s ruffling feathers in Hanahan.

No roosters, chickens, or hens—that’s the law in Hanahan.

Danielle Woodford learned that the hard way. Four months ago, her two hens Pork Chop and Goldie were seized by Berkeley County Animal Control.

At the time, friend Kelly Atkinson was fostering the birds while Woodford and her family moved to a new home.

“It was awful, I cried like a baby,” said Atkinson. “(The officer) was like ‘I’m so sorry’, I said ‘it’s okay it’s your job, I’m doing something I shouldn’t have, it was just supposed to be temporary.’”

Woodford said Pork Chop and Goldie are currently at another foster home in Summerville. She said they are like family, treated just like any other household pet.

“My kids loved to carry them around, all the neighborhood kids came to play with them, I mean, they’re just sweet animals,” said Woodford. “We owned them in Park Circle and my girls raised them from babies. They cleaned the coops, they fed the chickens, they collected the eggs. Fresh eggs are amazing by the way, in case you don’t know.”

Since the hens were taken away, Woodford and Atkinson have formed a group called “Hens for Hanahan.”

They’re petitioning the city to scrap the current ordinance. They’ve drafted their own, which puts a hen limit for households to four hens. It would also require fencing and a coop,to protect the animals and to keep them from wandering off.

The proposition has been met with opposition, though.

“A lot of the complaints have been, ‘Well I grew up on a farm with 400 chickens and it was nasty’,” Woodford said. “And we’re like, ‘okay well 400 dogs are nasty, 400 cats are nasty, 400 rabbits are nasty.’”

Woodford is currently building a home in Hanahan on a one-acre property.

She said her neighbors have given her their blessing.

Both women said the birds offer a lot more than fresh eggs daily.

Woodford said she uses the chicken manure as compost for her garden and said they dig for bugs—a way to weed the yard without using harmful chemicals.

Atkinson said the hens helped control a pest problem that was killing her peach trees. Committed to growing organic and avoiding pesticides, she said they tried everything from vinegar to hot sauce to no avail.

“We had a big Japanese beetle problem, huge they ate just about everything, it was awful,” Atkinson said. “The year we had the hens, we barely noticed them. I mean, it was amazing, we didn’t to use anything.”

City council is considering the matter. On Friday, Mayor Christie Rainwater said the feedback she’s received has been split down the middle, which has kept officials from making a decision.

She said they’re doing significant research and want to honor both sides of the argument.

Rainwater said she expects a decision soon and hopes to have it on the city council agenda in April.

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