Sales limits designed to keep chicks, ducklings out of the wrong hands

As I posted previously, it’s illegal to sell less than twelve chickens, ducks or geese under one month of age in Columbia. It sounds downright goofy at first, but Columbia/Boone County Environmental Health Manager Gerald Worley, who oversees the city’s animal control department, said the reasoning behind the rule is rock solid: The humane society was under siege. By endearing little birds.

The Central Missouri Humane Society requested the ordinance years ago — he can’t remember exactly how many it’s been — because “they were besieged by chicks and ducklings and baby geese as a result of Easter.”

Folks would pick up a cute, peeping little critter to spice up the kid’s Easter baskets only to desperately pull the plug on the experiment when that little yellow gosling somehow, much to their surprise and alarm, morphed into a massive, honk-happy goose or gander with absolutely no interest in becoming housebroken.

Worley couldn’t remember punishing any violators — local police haven’t exactly been spending their time busting down doors to bring contraband one-or-two-chick-at-a-time smuggling rackets to their knees — saying that the city generally depends on places like Orschelns Farm & Home Supply to adhere to the rule.

“We feel like its being complied with,” Worley said.

As far as I can tell, he’s right. Professional ethics (and the complete absence of an overwhelming desire to own chickens) prevented me from attempting a covert citizen sting operation and attempting to purchase less than a dozen chicks on a recent visit to the farm store’s north Columbia location, but I did note the prominent signs ordering folks to purchase twelve or more baby chickens. There didn’t appear to be any smaller amounts being swapped under the table.

Worley said the 12-bird minimum weeds out the dilletantes while still permitting those who are truly serious about raising birds to get their fowl fix.

“The people who are actually wanting to raise chickens are the ones who buy them now,” he said.

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