Court sides with chickens in dispute over noisy henhouse

A court in the canton of Vaud has ordered a man to pay more than 36,000 francs in court costs after it rejected his complaint that his neighbours’ chickens made too much noise.

Court sides with chickens in dispute over noisy henhouse
File photo: Stuart Richards

The saga dates back to 2010, when a couple bought a chalet in a rural area above Montreux with the intention of keeping chickens on its 4,000m2 parcel of land, reported 24 Heures on Wednesday.

Before buying the place the couple – named as Anouk and Philippe Michauville – checked they were able to keep chickens there and the commune confirmed they could, as long as their number didn’t surpass 2,000, said the paper.

But in 2012 a lawyer on behalf of their neighbour served them ten days’ notice to put an end to the “racket” made by the cockerels and hens.

The neighbour owned a place 50m above the couple’s chalet but actually lived in Zug and was only ever there a few weeks a year, the Michauvilles told the paper.

They did nothing to respond to the order, considering it an absurd request in a rural area, said the paper. But the following spring they received another legal letter on behalf of the neighbour claiming the noisy birds reduced the value of his house and demanding 97,000 francs in damages.

Despite keeping their cockerels inside at night to prevent them crowing, the row continued and went to a court hearing in March, where a number of measures were considered in an effort to resolve the dispute.

The neighbour agreed to renounce his claim for damages if the couple gave up their henhouse. But they refused, said 24 Heures.

Finally, six months after the hearing, the civil court rejected the neighbour’s case last week, ordering him to pay 21,642 francs in legal costs and 15,000 francs expenses.

He has not yet decided if he will appeal, reported the paper.

The issue of noise in the countryside crops up in Switzerland from time to time.

In May this year a farmer in the Zurich Oberland lost his appeal over his neighbours' complaints that the bells on his cows were too noisy at night.

The farmer was ordered to remove bells from any cow located within 200m of a house during the hours of 10pm and 7am.

At the time the farmer told the media he was ready to fight the issue in the supreme court.

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Shredding of live chicks to be banned in Switzerland from January 2020

The crushing of live male chicks is at the centrepiece of a number of new animal protection regulations to be passed in the new year.

Shredding of live chicks to be banned in Switzerland from January 2020
Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

A number of other changes to mass agriculture will also come into effect in January, including tracking sheep and goats, as well as greater restrictions on pesticides and more assistance available to farmers in the instance of drought. 

In industrial farming across the globe, male chicks are typically shredded a day after birth as they do not lay eggs and are of little value in factory farms. 

Although the practice is relatively rare in Switzerland, it will be formally forbidden from January 2020. 

READ: Germany allows the shredding of live chicks to continue

The law does include some exceptions for smaller egg producers, however if male chicks are to be put to death, this must now be done with CO2 gas. 

The Swiss House of Representatives, when passing the law, called the practice “absurd”. 

Technology exists which can determine a chick’s sex just nine days into incubation. Although this is used in the United States, Germany and elsewhere, it is as yet not widespread in Switzerland. 

Pesticide restrictions, helicopters for thirsty cows

The Swiss government has made army helicopters available to transport water for cattle in the instance of drought. 

Switzerland’s central animal trafficking database will now also track sheep and goats, with the animals to be given tracking ear tags. 

Furthermore, there will be restrictions on certain pesticides, with the carcinogenic Chlorothalonil banned from January onwards. 

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