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Beverly farmers go to court in effort to keep roosters

December 24, 2021 GMT

BEVERLY, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts husband and wife who operate a small farm in Beverly have gone to court in an effort to keep their roosters.

Brian and Anita Deeley in their complaint filed in Essex Superior Court this week said the city Board of Health overstepped its authority by ordering them to remove the roosters from their 19-acre farm, The Salem News reported Friday.

The Deeleys said the city has “intimidated and coerced” them, and the roosters are critical to the farm for breeding and protecting hens from predators.

The city Health Director ordered the Deeleys to remove the roosters after a neighbor complained about noise and the couple was prohibited from having roosters by a permit issued in 2015. The Board of Health in October denied the Deeleys a new permit that would have allowed them to keep the roosters.

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The Deeleys in the suit said the power of a local health board is limited when it comes to commercial farms and the “crowing of roosters” does not constitute a nuisance under state law.

The suit seeks damages and a reversal of the board’s decision.

The city in response said it has the authority to revoke the animal permit for cause and asked that the suit be dismissed.