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NJ Town Forces Girl to Give Up 4-H Chickens for Violating 'Livestock Ordinance

“When I heard I had to get rid of them, I was in shock mode.”

LOWER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (The Blaze/AP) -- A 10-year-old girl is the latest to run afoul of a Cape May County town's livestock ordinance.

Brianna Lyman, 10, has until Sunday to get rid of the two chickens she was raising for a 4-H project because her family's yard falls short of the acre that Lower Township requires for farm animals.

A neighbor complained after the Rhode Island Red and a Black Silkie got loose and rooted through the neighbor's yard.

The fifth-grader, who spent two years raising the chickens in hopes of winning a 4-H prize, told The Press of Atlantic City she was shocked.

“When I heard I had to get rid of them, I was in shock mode,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to get rid of them because I raised them as little chicks. Every day, I got home from school and held them. I didn’t want to get rid of them — ever.”

Township Manager Mike Voll responded that while the  township supports 4-H, the chickens were getting loose and rooting around a neighbor’s yard.

“If they kept them cooped up, this guy wouldn’t have said a word. Now, it’s become public and we have to deal with it, and its being enforced by code enforcement,” he told The Press.

The girls father, Lyman, who's a local paramedic, said he's going to campaign to get the ordinance changed so homeowners can keep chickens on residential property, just like is allowed in neighboring Middle Township.

“There is a grow-your-own foods thing going on. We grow our own vegetables, and I’ve taught Brianna about fishing and crabbing. Brianna will never forget having chickens when she was young. If she becomes an executive in New York or Philadelphia, she’ll still have that rural background,” he told The Press.

A family that has a child in 4-H has offered to take the chickens.

An 80-year-old last week was forced to give up six chickens that violated the ordinance.

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