• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

How many miniture goats = one horse

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,176
Points
51
I have a situation where some people want to go before the Zoning Hearing Board for a variance to still have 2 miniature goats and a few chickens for their daughter’s 4-H project. Here is the thing… they have enough acres for two horses (three Acres), but our ordinance does not allow any agriculture on land less than 10 acres. My thoughts are what is the impact made by one horse, and how many small animals (size of a dog) would have that same impact. Ok, now I am looking for your input on if anyone has had to deal with something like this, and if so what are your thoughts, reactions, feelings, and what all happened.

Please voice your opinion soon!
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
5,444
Points
34
I have seen ordinances that use "animal units". I don't have a link to one, but a search for that phrase would help you I am sure.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
First, I don't see how you could issue a variance for this. There can't possibly be a "hardship" as the applicants already have a conforming use and are not denied privileges that neighbors have. They would have to petition for an amendment to the text.

I have dealt with this question for years and no longer suggest using numbers as the basis of regulation for livestock in areas where agriculture is not the main use. Using numbers can result in wonderfully entertaining tables showing that a llama equals 3/4 of a horse, etc, but that this approach really does not work. LIvestock are very mobile and numbers can fluctuate in ways that you don't want to have to monitor or try to develop evidence on. And virtually all complaints and actual issues are results of how the stock are managed, not of their precise numbers. Properly managed, a few chickens and a couple of goats are no big deal. One goat who is not properly cared for is a big deal.

It is unfair to allow horses without allowing other livestock, so you may want to look at a text amendment with some strict performance standards on odors, flies, dust, area laid bare by grazing, fencing, proximity to waterways, etc.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
Ditto Lee Nelis!

I have chased the Animal Units question as a ZA like a dog chasing its tail. It is a nightmare. But, people that move to the country expect to be able to dable in ag related activities. Dealing with those expectations is crazy.

"What kind of Communitst crap is this restriction on my GOD GIVEN RIGHT TO FARM?"
Yada yada yada.

Me, I don't think a bucket calf or a 4-H project goat is something to get upset over. The problem is when a neighbor starts raising holy hell over it. Then it can get real ugly. I once had a mean old nasty evil disgusting ugly horid woman give me all kinds of grief because her neighbor was graizing his goats on her land. I told her there was nothing I could do, and to call a lawyey, sheriff or a bounty hunter. But, she never stoped calling because it was a zoning issue. I even offered to loan her my .308 Enfield and all the ammo she needed to destroy any and goats on her property from the comfort of her back porch. There is no pleasing some people.
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
goats

Call them seeing-eye goats. They have seeing-eye miniature horses now. Why not. Then they can take them into a restaurant with them. Probably have to get them certified though. Does anyone know of any seeing-eye pot bellied pigs?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Lee Nellis said:
Using numbers can result in wonderfully entertaining tables showing that a llama equals 3/4 of a horse, etc,...
Would this be the same thing as three quarter horses? ;)

I would agree with the others. Change the text of the ordinance. Three acres is certainly a large-enough piece of property for a couple of goats and chickens. When does raising goats or even having a vegetable garden cross over into agriculture? That is perhaps the larger question. My personal belief is that raising animals or growing food for personal consumption is essentially a household activity, and should be permitted under the zoning ordinance. Of course, there should be the types of performance restrictions suggested by Lee and El Guapo.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Did some googling for you

http://baap.lt/education/animal_units.htm
http://www.ci.corcoran.mn.us/docs/municipal code/Animal Units 1 Acre.pdf
http://www.mda.state.mn.us/feedlots/dmt/aucalcws.htm
http://www.maeap.org/permit_determiningAnimalUnits.pdf
http://www.das.psu.edu/nutrient/forms/survey.cfm (This one is funny it breaks dairy cows into separate breeds, who knew that jersey's multiplier would be less than a guernsey's)

From reviewing these pages it looks like 1 horse equals 10 to 20 sheep.

I've had to explain to people that turkeys are not household pets (on a 60ftx100ft lot) within the city limits in a developed area.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,176
Points
51
Lee Nellis said:
First, I don't see how you could issue a variance for this. There can't possibly be a "hardship" as the applicants already have a conforming use and are not denied privileges that neighbors have. They would have to petition for an amendment to the text.
They are thinking of the side of the property as a hardship due to this property is surrounded for the most parts by farms... but several years ago, someone decided to divide a 12 acre farm into 4 sections... The one in question, was the original farmhouse and barn, and is surrounded on both sides by vacant lots. There is maybe 4 or 5 homes with in a mile. (The street is the city limit line.)
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
michaelskis said:
They are thinking of the side of the property as a hardship due to this property is surrounded for the most parts by farms... but several years ago, someone decided to divide a 12 acre farm into 4 sections... The one in question, was the original farmhouse and barn, and is surrounded on both sides by vacant lots. There is maybe 4 or 5 homes with in a mile. (The street is the city limit line.)
This would still not meet the definition of a hardship.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
We just got a new interpretation of hardship, and I quote from the decision:

"There is a vast difference between being unhappy and disappointed, and having suffered a 'special or unreasonable hardship'".

Classic, and finally a Board that is interpreting it properly. We've had some crazy cases on hardship here.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,176
Points
51
Now that you mention it your right... it wouldn't.

But I will pose a new question... is a miniture goat a farm animal or a pet?
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Depends on how your by-law defines pet. If it excludes animals typically kept as farm animals then a goat, regardless of size is not a pet. Our definition is a bit more thorough, but not much.
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
baa

What about sheep. Do co-habitation laws apply? Domestic partners? Common law ..?
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,176
Points
51
I am just thinking along the lines of how a horse is not a farm animal, and can be concidered a pet.
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
Mr. Ed

Other than a miniture horse guide animal, I suppose it could be a movie actor. Neigh, I think not.
 

Plannerbabs

Cyburbian
Messages
1,037
Points
23
We require three acres minimum if you' re raising livestock, but horses (guide or otherwise) are not explicitly mentioned. Neither are goats, but I wouldn't consider either a household pet, no matter how compact. They can't be housetrained, can they?
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Plannerbabs said:
We require three acres minimum if you' re raising livestock, but horses (guide or otherwise) are not explicitly mentioned. Neither are goats, but I wouldn't consider either a household pet, no matter how compact. They can't be housetrained, can they?
I should be emabarrassed to admit this, but goats, horses and especially donkeys while they can't be house trained(let you know they want to go) they can be "litter" trained (ie to go in the same spot all the time).
 

IPlan

Cyburbian
Messages
60
Points
4
Using weight (livestock Units) and Nutrient Units, my calculations say that one horse equals about 7 to 8 goats. My calculations make no distinction on the size of goats - because they are all roughly the same size.
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,194
Points
26
Here is the thing… they have enough acres for two horses (three Acres), but our ordinance does not allow any agriculture on land less than 10 acres.
I agree with the previous posters regarding a variance not being appropriate. Granted, our board would probably approve it, but that's a whole 'nother issue.

Could you amend your ordinance to allow a certain amount of livestock on parcels less than 10 acres, but as a special use? That way the PC would still have some discretion when reviewing these requests.
 

GeogPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,433
Points
25
ditto on the variance...

it would seem that the best solution is a special use and some performace standard. but livestock versus pet is another question...i guess it depends on the role of the animal...i.e. do you milk it? and 4H projects are usually agricultural in nature...so i would say that they are raising livestock and not a pet. i would call a horse may be a pet b/c you may ride it and care for it, but it's not working in an agricultural manner...plowing or pulling a cart of veggies for example.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
31
Out here we needed to accommodate the 4-H projects. The previous code permitted horses and chickens (but not swine or goats or hippopotami) in all residence districts. That was a bit too much, especially the roosters behind city hall.

Now, in the large lot residence district, "limited non-commercial animal husbandry" is permitted. We tried the animal unit concept, but elGuapo is right about it not being workable. (Did I say that I agree with the Guap?)

Limited animal husbandry is defined as up to two horses per fenced acre. "Other non-commercial animal husbandry may be allowed in the RS district only after review by the Board of Zoning Appeals as a special exception." We then cite the animal control code for performance standards.

There is an abbreviated public hearing notice for these, with notification to the immediately adjacent land owners.

This works for us. I do not know how many emus will have the same impact as two horses--let the board decide.
 
Top