crowing ruffles feathers

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A MAN who bred cockerels to be more self sufficient has been found guilty of failing to stop his noisy poultry disturbing his neighbours.

Nicholas Stutchbury, 42, of Stowupland Road, Stowmarket, has kept chickens and cockerels in his garden for their eggs and meat after being signed off work due to a blocked artery in his leg.

On November 23 last year, Stutchbury received a noise abatement notice alerting him that there had been a complaint made about his birds’ crowing and that he would have to make changes to keep them quiet.

But after visits from Mid Suffolk District Council’s environmental protection team it was deemed he had not done enough to stem their early morning crowing.

On Wednesday, Stutchbury appeared before Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court charged with breaching the noise abatement notice on or about January 17 this year. He was found guilty and fined £50 and must also pay £300 in court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Michael Turner, the neighbour who lodged the complaint, said the cockerels were ‘annoying and very noisy’.

He said: “It is just horrible, it’s horrific living there.

But Stutchbury, who defended himself, said his family had been breeding cockerels since 1973 and that he had done everything he could to keep the birds quiet, including moving the cockerels away from his neighbours and using a light-proof coup.

He said: “I was trying to be a bit more self-sufficient. There are other people with cockerels and I feel like I am being victimised. I did have seven cockerels but when I realised they were a problem I reduced their number by three.”

Stutchbury currently has three grown cockerels, four juvenile cockerels and 30 hens in his garden.

Susan Herne, environmental health officer with Mid Suffolk District Council, said on one visit she recorded crowing at a rate of almost one a minute.

After the decision, Stutchbury said: “I feel aggrieved that one neighbour out of probably 30 does not like the sound of cockerels and I get found guilty.

“There are probably 10 other people who didn’t mind it or like to hear it.

“I have done all I have been asked to do – there is nothing I can do short of getting rid of the cockerels.”

Ms Herne said after the verdict: “This is a step towards controlling a very distressing situation for neighbours and we hope that we will soon be able to ensure they can have a good night’s sleep without the risk of this unreasonable disturbance. Today’s result shows that Mid Suffolk District Council and the courts take noise complaints seriously.”

A spokeswoman for the council said they were endeavouring to talk to Stutchbury to bring the noise under control but if this did not prove possible, it was likely that further prosecutions would be necessary.