Cracking the Chicken Code: How to Change Local Backyard Poultry Ordinances


Boy Collecting Backyard Chicken Eggs 

Are you like me and put the egg before the chicken? Were you ready to roll with your new flock of feathered friends only to realize there’s a law against it? You’re not alone — and you don’t have to take no for an answer.

I was shocked when I found out our city had a municipal ordinance that made it illegal to raise backyard hens. We’d moved less than 5 miles but had to give up our girls when we moved in.  So, in 2016 I worked with my city council to change our municipal ordinance. Beyond voting, I’d never been involved in anything governmental. If I can do this, anyone can do this!

Many cities are changing their chicken code, following the increase of homeowners who are interested in gaining more control over their own food sources. Whatever you reason for wanting to raise your own backyard hens, know that the work is more than repaid in delicious, nutritious eggs, from eating your kitchen scraps, creating amazing compost not to mention the entertainment and garden companionship a backyard flock provides. As one survey reports, most urban/suburban chicken keepers have been at this five years or less. Just another reason to stay tuned into your online news sources for up to date information.

Here are some easy steps to follow to help you change the Chicken Code in your neck of the woods!

What’s on the Books?

The first step is to find out your city’s current municipal ordinances for backyard chickens. You can start by searching your city’s website. It’s usually under municipal code (get ready to search for a bit) usually listed under ‘keeping of animals’. Here’s how our Keeping of Pigeons and Chicken Ordinance reads now.

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