Dancing Rabbit Animal Agriculture Policy

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Dancing Rabbit Animal Agriculture Policy

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This is Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage’s Animal Agriculture Policy. It makes reference to other DR decisions regarding land use planning and such but may still have some useful info for other communities.

Contents

Introduction

The following are various policies regarding livestock at Dancing Rabbit. These policies were created to try to balance the needs of DR members with very diverse views regarding animal agriculture. If you are new to DR and are considering animal agriculture or have concerns about its impact on you please read these policies. We also suggest talking to numerous members to gain an understanding of the diverse opinions on these subjects and to understand how/why these policies were agreed to.

We want to stress that as a village we need to accept that our fellow rabbits will often have very different values and opinions on topics that you or they feel strongly about. We want DR to be a village where people care about and respect their neighbors. We encourage folks to check in with their neighbors (especially those immediately adjacent) if you might be doing something that might “offend” them. This could include anything from playing loud music, to putting up blinking neon signs, and might often include things relating to livestock. It is best not to assume what people will be offended by or how they would have you deal with it as you may often be surprised at the range of people’s feelings and preferences.

We are not intending to create any rules or regulations about checking with neighbors or about how you resolve differences of conflicts that may come up (other than our general agreement to resolve conflicts peaceably).

It is part of our covenants that all agriculture must conform to OCIA standards.

Basic Agreements

  • Livestock is any animal that provides any non-social good or service. Animals that only provide social services or relationships are pets. Service animals for handicapped folks are exempt.
  • Livestock will regularly live, eat, shit etc. on land that is leased.
  • Owners are responsible for keeping their animals on their leaseholds and preventing damage to property. The owner is responsible for fixing or compensating for any damage livestock does.
  • We expect owners to treat livestock humanely but how that is done is at the discretion of the owners.
  • Once guidelines are in place, it is an individual decision to obtain livestock. Any existing livestock will conform to the guidelines.
  • At least for now, all animal agriculture should be at a small scale. Animal agriculture at a large scale would require group process.
  • Assuming for now that animal slaughtering/butchering will be happening on a small scale, it should happen on leased land and all wastes should be disposed on leased land or at least 1/2 mile from our village and off of main paths on our land.
  • We recognize that livestock does have environmental, community and human health impacts. We will try to be aware of and minimize negative impacts.
  • Bees are harder to contain then other livestock. Their hives would have to be on leased warrens but they can “roam free.”
  • Grievances between village residents and owners of livestock will be dealt with in the same manner as all other grievances, informally and one-on-one. If that is not sufficient, the parties can ask for mediation.
  • Livestock cannot roam free around the village. Livestock can perform temporary services outside of the areas they are usually allowed to reside. See Temporary Services below for the full regulations.
  • We had a specific previous agreement about roosters from the spring of 2005. The Animal Noise section below covers areas of that agreement that remain that were not superceded by this new livestock agreement. The livestock locations agreement applies the norms for suppressing rooster noise to other noisy animals, as detailed in the Animal Noise section

Livestock Locations at DR

Livestock of different types can reside at different locations based on the following

Note: if neighborhood designations arise, neighborhoods can, with the
approval of the appropriate governing body at DR, set different standards
than those proposed below.

Definitions:

From previous land use planning:

  • Realm 1 – This is the area including main street and town center. It is not

100% clear exactly how close you have to be to main street or town center
to be part of Realm 1 but the LUP will attempt to clarify this ASAP. It at
least includes all adjacent leaseholds (and probably just that).

  • Realm 2 – This is the entire residential/horticultural part of the village

outside of Realm 1 and inside Realm 3.

  • Realm 3 – This is the area outside the residential area of the village

where things like ag take place (does not include all of DR land as some is
set aside for wildlife etc.) There is a 250 ft buffer between the last
residential warren and the beginning of Realm 3 that will likely be leased
at garden rate or be held by DRLT.

For this proposal we are also defining:

  • Realm 2A – This is the area within 125 ft of the border of Realm 1. This

definition might need to change as new areas are developed.

  • Realm 2B – The rest of Realm 2 outside of Realm 2A

Allowed Activities for each realm

Realm 1:
  • Animal agriculture is generally discouraged but some is allowed.
  • Animals under 20lb/each and up to 60lb total weight of all animals on

leasehold are ok. (examples of such animals: chickens, rabbits, ducks,
small geese or turkeys, earthworms, crickets, guinea pigs, etc.).

  • Roosters or other animals with similar noise impact would not be allowed.
  • Young of larger species would be allowed while they are within the

weight limit (eg lambs, baby goats, etc.)

  • Extra care should be taken in this realm to keep odors generally

considered offensive at a minimum.

Realm 2:
  • Animals of any size are allowed (except in 2A as noted below)
  • Maximum of 4000lb total livestock weight per leasehold (eg 2 cows and a

calf, 2 or 3 horses, etc.)

  • Noise considerations from Animal Noise section below would apply (ie

sound-dampening structure required for roosters or animals with similar
noise impact)

Realm 2A:
  • Only animals up to 250 lbs each are allowed (eg goats, alpacas, sheep,

small pigs, etc.)

Realm 3:
  • Any animals are allowed within this realm in any quantity, given they

comply with other livestock agreements.

Special note: In the 250ft buffer zone between realm 3 and last
residential warren, all realm 3 livestock conditions apply. While this
buffer zone may be leased at garden rate it seems reasonable to allow
people to have animals adjacent to their residential space within this area
if they choose.

We did not address the issue of noise from animals in Realm 3. Obviously
noise can still travel into other Realms (we can certainly hear our
neighbors cattle). At this point we suggest no restrictions but good
neighborliness is assumed.

Temporary Services

Livestock may perform temporary services in areas they are not permitted to dwell permanently.

  • Definition of temporary: for less than or equal to a week per instance
  • Areas included:

(A) leased warrens of a lower realm number than the particular livestock in question is authorized to dwell. In this area livestock may reside on a warren for up to a week, day and night.

(B) unleased land, in which case the animal(s) must be providing a service to DRLT/village as a whole. In this area livestock must be completely contained (as in a chicken tractor, for example) to remain overnight. In all other cases, the animal(s) must be returned to their permanent dwelling location at night. (Exceptions are possible, as always, but would require an OK from the group.) As well, DRLT/village must have a clear point person for cases of livestock employment.

Process for livestock performing services for DRLT/village in area (B)

  • For the present, let’s have a single volunteer, approved by the OT, to act as point person for DRLT/village for all cases of livestock employment falling under (B). This person would receive and file a copy of all requests for livestock employment, as well as making sure any compensation gets to the livestock owner in a timely fashion. Primarily, this person is an info and history keeper, and would eventually be part of a larger livestock committee when this seems more necessary and feasible.
  • The required responsibilities of the point person do NOT include: writing proposals, shepherding proposals through group process, dealing with most complaints/concerns.
  • Only in cases where the livestock owner cannot be reached and a concern cannot be dealt with immediately by any averagely sensible person, would complaints/concerns be given to the point person. (See below for an example.)
  • The owner of the livestock should propose employment two weeks in advance to the projected time of employment whenever possible, by sending out a proposal by email and posting it in written form. Group then has 2 weeks to raise objections. If no objections are raised, the livestock employment can begin. Otherwise, the owner should should work things out independently with the concerned parties, making sure to post the final arrangements, and making sure the point person has a copy of them.
  • All proposals for livestock employment should include: name of owner, description of animals being used, purpose for use, location(s), compensation being sought, expected start date and end date of job, any info of note regarding animal behavior, and the name of at least one back-up caretaker.

APPENDIX 3 – Animal Noise

Roosters present specific noise issues. They generally begin crowing early in the morning before the average co is awake. In summer, when windows are frequently left open for ventilation and cooling at night, this presents a noise nuisance that can be regularly disturbing to folks who sleep lightly, or whose windows are so placed as to make rooster noise more of a problem (line of sight to rooster location, above trees, etc.). For any chicken owner who wishes to breed chickens, and in particular those wanting to breed specifically (heirloom and rare or endangered breeds, for example), it is not reasonable to eliminate roosters altogether (for free-roaming chickens, rooster are also the primary lookout for predators like hawks, and serve as the shepherds of the flock).

Housing- As a compromise, then, we propose that permanent housing/shelter for chickens be both light-and sound-dampening; the former in an attempt to delay the time at which roosters start crowing (it being generally a light-triggered response), and the latter to dampen the noise from whatever crowing does take place at early hours. We do not propose specific requirements for achieving these effects, but offer a strawbale chicken coop as one example of a structure which could significantly reduce sound from within, and which could be managed to minimize light entering from outside.

Experimentation and open, ongoing communication about the results are encouraged, as they are for any animal-related issue. Chicken owners should be open to input from community members about how they are affected by chickens, and have willingness to refine their solutions, but it is anticipated that even with good-faith efforts at finding appropriate solutions, there may still arise on occasion conflict about rooster noise or other issues. We rely on established community channels for mediation and arbitration if such conflict should prove difficult to resolve.

Some Relevant OCIA Standards

Note: Remember in reading this that all OCIA standards apply in all zones.
OCIA standards do not define a maximum animals per area (except in the EU)
but do say:

3.3.1 Management of the environment of the animals must take into
account the behavioral needs of the animal and provide for:

a. Sufficient free movement;

b. Sufficient fresh air and natural daylight according to the needs
of the animals;

c. Protection against excessive sunlight, temperatures, rain and wind
according to the needs of the animal;

d. Enough lying or resting area;

e. Ample access to fresh water and feed according to the needs of the
animals;

f. Adequate facilities for expressing behavior in accordance with the
biological and behavioral needs of the species. Rabbits and pigs must not
be kept in cages.

g. Access to open air and/or grazing appropriate to the type of
animal and season taking into account their age and condition. Exceptions
may be allowed in cases where:

The specific farm or settlement structure prevents such access
provided animal welfare can be guaranteed.

Feeding of animals with carried fresh fodder is a more sustainable
way to use land resources than grazing providing animal welfare is not
compromised.

We are assuming that in many cases below the number of animals will be
limited by the size of leasehold and the requirements of OCIA.

See http://www.ocia.org/files/CD-P-001.rtf for OCIA standards.