Stopham chicken breeder’s fears over complaints about crowing and clucking

Sarah McKenzie with her daughters Willow and Hebe with some of their rare breed chickens and cockerels (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151130-112858008 SUS-151130-112858008
Sarah McKenzie with her daughters Willow and Hebe with some of their rare breed chickens and cockerels (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-151130-112858008 SUS-151130-112858008
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A chicken breeder fears for the future of her business after complaints from ‘townies’ over the noise of her cockerels crowing and hens clucking.

Sarah McKenzie, who rears rare-breed birds at a rural site at Sussex Garden Poultry in Stopham, near Pulborough, has been running her business there on rented land since 2011.

But, she said, feathers had begun to fly recently after neighbours moved nearby and complained about the noise.

“Chickens do make noises,” she said. “We’re in the countryside. If you can’t farm in the countryside where can you do it?”

Sarah, a 43-year-old single parent, said that agents for her landlord had now told her that she could only house six birds in her garden ‘for personal use.’

But last year she reared around 1,500 birds and has 2,500 on order for next year and fears that she could lose her livelihood if she has to move her flock.

As well as breeding birds, Sarah - who specialises in pure-breed Sussex chickens - has embarked on a poultry education service and helps schoolchildren, and adults, learn more about egg and chicken production.

She said she currently has around 70 birds, including 10 cockerels, but, she said: “They don’t crow all the time, all day.

“It’s all very well these people moving to the countryside but people already here are trying to run a business and preserve the rural area.”

Along with her rare-breed hens, Sarah keeps ducks and geese.

Nick Burchell, land agent for Cluttons which handles the lease of the property, said they had received complaints from neighbours but were trying to resolve the problem.

“It is very much an on-going matter and something we are trying to resolve.”

He said no decisions had yet been made and that a meeting had been set up with Sarah next week to discuss what could be done.

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