Rather than keeping backyard chickens under the cloak of darkness, research your city’s or town’s laws and ordinances to be sure you’re allowed to have the feathered friends. That way you aren’t fretting that every bawk and cluck is setting off alarms to surrounding neighbors, just biding your time until authorities come knocking at your door.
How Do You Know If Chickens Are Allowed in Your Community?
Head to your local municipality and ask for the local laws on chicken keeping. If you don’t have a local municipality, the courthouse is a good next step. Still no luck? Try the local humane society and see if they know the rules for your area or can connect you with the right people to find out.
Questions to Ask When Researching Local Chicken Laws and Ordinances:
- Is there a fee to keep chickens? Is it a one-time fee or annual fee?
- Is there a set limit on how many chickens can be kept or is it dependent on lot size?
- Does the coop and birds need to be kept a certain distance away from property lines? All that cluckin’ and bawkin’, you know?
- Are there any building codes set for coops? You may be allowed to have a standard coop, but the Taj Mahal of coops may be frowned upon.
- Are roosters allowed? If you’re starting from chicks, a good thing to establish ahead of time is what you will do if one of your chicks turns out to be a rooster. Look into rooster rehoming or animal sanctuaries.
Keep in mind that even if chickens are allowed in your area, individual rules may vary based on the residence type. For example, Homeowners Associations may have their own restrictions on keeping chickens. Likewise, chickens may not be suitable for all rental units or even permitted by the landlord. Know the rules of your own roost before setting up a chicken roost.
A handful of our customers have scored victories of changing the ordinances in their community by doing research into laws within areas that do permit chickens, collecting signatures from those in favor of changing the rules, and being kind and persistent advocates at their local council meetings; getting local ordinances changed is not an overnight process. Here’s an example:
In 2016, a group of folks in Edmond, Oklahoma came together and formed Edmond Urban Chickens. Edmond did not permit backyard chickens, and this group of local chicken keeping advocates wanted to change that. After years of talking with residents, collecting facts and doing research on backyard chicken keeping, attending and speaking respectfully at seven city council meetings, and arguing that, if given the chance, chicken keeping enriches a community, they won! It was a three-year journey that paid off. The icing on the cake of this victory is that Edmond Urban Chickens provides two-hour classes on Chicken Keeping 101 for anyone applying for a permit to keep backyard chickens. That way people learn the work that goes into chicken keeping and maintaining a healthy flock.
Regardless of whether you’re on the up and up with keeping a flock, be respectful of those around you. Keep a clean coop to reduce that chicken aroma (you know what we mean), take proper biosecurity measures to prevent health issues, keep your chickens in your own yard, rather than roaming about your neighbors’ yards. Be a good example of what keeping chickens can look like so other towns and cities can see that having a small flock in urban areas can improve quality of life both in health and happiness.