Manuse-Sponsored Chick Law Encourages Small, Family Farms and Sustainable Local Foods

Families Now Free to Purchase Any Number of Chicks to Create Small Egg Farms in Their Own Backyards

DERRY, N.H.—Derry Republican and State Rep. Andrew J. Manuse encourages New Hampshire families to help create a sustainable local farming and food production market by taking advantage of a new state law he sponsored, which allows citizens to buy the appropriate amount of chicks for their own backyard egg-production needs.

HB 1231, effective July 22, repealed a state law that prohibited businesses from selling less than 12 chicks, ducklings or goslings to any one person at a time. Since roughly three chickens produce about a dozen eggs a week, many families held back from buying chicks and raising them into egg-layers because they feared the abundance of eggs that would come from 12 chickens. Others were forced to figure out how to split their purchase with someone else. 

Because of the law change, families can now buy as few—or as many—chicks, ducklings or goslings as they want or need in New Hampshire without the hassle of dealing with a pointless state law. Additionally, people in cities such as Concord, which limits the number of chickens per household to five, can now buy the appropriate number of chicks for their community without worrying about what to do with the remaining birds.

“From my conversations with Derry residents and others, it’s clear that this law change will get more people involved with raising chicks for backyard egg production, and such local farming activity is a great way to help develop a healthy local food supply that will hopefully grow to sustainable levels,” Manuse said. “In fact, my family purchased our first three chicks thanks to this law passing, and we will now have a dozen fresh, healthy, organic eggs every week from a source that we know well. I hope other people take advantage of this law, which will help develop a culture for local agriculture and also help stimulate business at local feed stores such as Derry Feed or Dodge Grain.”

Derry residents Michael and Erica Layon, who have a small flock of chickens of their own, identified the problem with state law last year during a conversation with Rep. Manuse, who then decided to put in a bill to address their concern. Manuse recruited Bud Evans and Ann Evans at Derry Feed to help promote the bill, and the Layons were instrumental in recruiting feed suppliers, such as Jim O’Toole from Dodge Grain in Salem, to testify in favor of the bill in Concord. The Layons both took a couple days themselves to testify in favor of the bill.

The process was very informative, and we had very good discussions with both the House and Senate committees,” said Erica Layon, a Derry chicken owner. “There was a lot of support for backyard chickens on both committees, with a handful of these legislators having their own flock and numerous others regularly purchasing eggs from backyard chicken owners. Because of the care taken to maintain laws that prohibit chicks from being colored during the holidays, there was no opposition from animal rights groups, and the farm bureau supported the bill, too.”

“When HB 1231 is combined with other law changes this past year, such as a new law sponsored by Rep. Guy Comtois of Barnstead that allows a home-based operation to process raw milk into cheeses, creams and butter for sale, and another new law sponsored by Rep. Jeanine Notter of Merrimack that prohibits government officials from seizing local livestock or other farming goods or equipment from families in times of emergency, New Hampshire is well on its way to restoring a true sense of liberty and personal responsibility that comes with land ownership,” Manuse said. “For the most part, this type of local agriculture is just plain fun, educational, healthy and rewarding. At the same time, these and other changes to state law can provide assurance to astute families that they will be able to weather some of the most troubling potential hardships on their own.”

Co-sponsors of HB 1231 included Rep. Kevin Reichard of Derry, Rep. Carol McGuire of Epsom, Rep. Dan Tamburello of Londonderry, Rep. Ken Kreis of Canterbury, Rep. Tammy Simmons of Manchester, Rep. Spec Bowers of Georges Mills, Rep. Laura Jones of Rochester, Rep. Lenette Peterson of Merrimack and Sen. Ray White of Bedford.


About Rep. Andrew J. Manuse
Andrew J. Manuse, a state representative for the People of Derry, is serving in New Hampshire’s House of Representatives as part of the House Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs, the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules, the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee, the State Transparency Website Oversight Committee, and the Task Force on State Procurement Policies and Procedures. Rep. Manuse, a husband, father and owner of a successful media-services business, passed several core pieces of legislation this session that advance his Common Sense for New Hampshire agenda of limited and accountable state government, individual liberty and personal responsibility, and spending and tax cuts to support free markets. For more information, visit