Anyone familiar with Massachusetts laws?

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by jmk518, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. jmk518

    jmk518 In the Brooder

    Jun 1, 2012
    Marlborough, MA
    My wife decided that she needed fresh eggs every morning, so I was going to get a few chickens. The problem is, I can't seem to find very much information from my town. I live in Marlborough, MA. Based on what I'm not finding I would have to say there are no laws on the books, for or against it.

    Any help would be appreciated!
  2. Kikiriki

    Kikiriki Songster

    May 26, 2011
    Roanoke County, Virginia
    Hi, JMK. Since no else answered, I will. You need to include more information. Do you live in the unincorporated county, or fall under the rules of a town, village, city? Usually, township/city rules trump county rules so this is important. A county can ban chickens but a city can allow them or vice versa. Where I live, I fall under county rules. How much land do you have and what is your property zoned? What are the dimensions of your property? Sometimes the chickens are allowed but restricted by having to be so many feet from a dwelling. The size of the property is also often linked to how many chickens you may have. Any dwelling regardless of lot size in my county can have one chicken, but one has to have 2.5 acres to have two or more! Stupid, huh? Our county has a rule that allows a variance for helath reasons, so if one can support that with a doctor note, one can get the variance. Then there are state rules that might trump all other rules although they tend to apply to commercial sales of products and might include a clause that specifies sales have be over some amount of money: I saw a fifty thousand dollar limit set for one state, but other states do not specify an amount. Also, food sales usually have a lot of regulations, and one might have to get a tax ID number for sales over a very small amount of proceeds, so even if you can set up a farm stand, you might not meet the rules regulating how food is handled for public sale.

    There is a lot to look into, so the info you need to add makes a big difference...

    Conversely, you could go outlaw: someone would have to look over my privacy fence to see my chickens. I am allowed one, but I have three. My county has been asked to change the ordinance already, so I'm hoping they will soon be legal, but I will keep all three regardless of the outcome.

    I did talk to my neighbor whose house is nearest the coop. They are country folk who do not mind at all. So you could just ask your neighbors if they care, if they would like a share of eggs for pitching in for feed, and reassure them you will not have a rooster. If they are not familiar with chickens, take a video with you that has sound so you can reassure them the chickens are not noisy. Be prepared to tell them how you will handle waste so they dont have worry about flys and odor. If they kids, check out some sites that address the benefit of animal husbandy in educating and teaching responsibility, like 4-H clubs. Also, 4-H animals are sometimes specifically excluded from zoning rules, so if you have children, you might be able to this as a 4-H project.

    So that's all I know and I would be glad to help you find rules if you post the necessary info!
  3. jmk518

    jmk518 In the Brooder

    Jun 1, 2012
    Marlborough, MA
    Thanks for the response!

    I actually forgot I posted this. I ended up just calling the city (Marlborough) and asking questions. Basically what I found out was as long as I name them, they are pets.
  4. curiositykt

    curiositykt Songster

    Apr 4, 2012
    Marlborough MA
    I live in Marlborough and have chickens, and I am pretty amused by our "if you name them, they are pets" law.

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