Best Case for Chickens as Legit/Legal Pets


13 Years
Jan 17, 2007
New Jersey
This thread is prompted by a number of cases where people were made to give up their beloved backyard chickens because town ordinance and/or closed minds did not see the chickens as legitimate or legal pets.

The below article was brought to light in another thread and it's a great example of the problem:

Perhaps we can collect in this one place 1) the best ordinances we know of or can find that authorize chickens as pets and also 2) the best reasons chickens should be allowed as pets.

This info could be a resource for anyone trying to make the case for more evolved ordinances in their towns. And for those simply trying to educate others on why chickens are good and valid pets.

Mods, if you deem it worthy, maybe this thread could park up top for awhile so it doesn't get buried as the info builds, which I'm thinking could take a bit of time.

I started a thread awhile back where some people sent in good info about ordinances - I'll dig it up and copy the info into this thread so everything is in one place.


p.s. If citing an ordinance, maybe you can pull out its most important sentences and include them in the body of your post to save folks from having to hunt down the ordinance..thanks!
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Sorry this is so long but this is the info from the other thread.....

#1 12/11/2007 10:43 am
From: NJ
Registered: 01/17/2007
Need good examples of chicken friendly ordinances (residential not ag)If you know of any chicken friendly ordinances for residential properties (vs. agricultural) I would be grateful for any info. If you have link to the language, even better. Maybe this info will also help others who are trying to inspire their communities to be more chicken friendly.
Looking for simple ordinances that welcome or recognize chickens as pets. It's okay if numbers are limited and commercial use is prohibited.

People have all sorts of birds as pets - parrots, cockatoos, etc and more and more folks have chickens as pets (if one, why not the other?). I sit on an advisory board for 3 towns, one of which has been approached by residents asking them to consider allowing chickens as pets - currently the ordinances only recognize them as livestock and for livestock one needs a minimum of 5 acres. The people who would like a few chickens as pets are on much smaller lots. One such person is suggesting very prescribed rules - no roos, minimum setbacks etc. that just happen to meet his desires so he threw it out there and now it is in danger of sticking. My hope is to keep any new ordinance or ordinance amendment really simple as everyone's situation is different (I myself have a roo and a hen on a small residential lot and in all honesty, she and not he, is the one that likes to talk and yet combined, they don't make even the tiniest fraction of the noise many of the neighbor's dogs make).

Simple language that interprets chickens as pets when they are in small numbers (I guess the number could depend on lot size) and when the chickens are not a business.....
I can draft language but odds of success are better if I can point to other places that have done it. Thank you!

#2 12/11/2007 11:00 am
Registered: 02/15/2007
Posts: 735
ps. I allow mine to free range in the yard, so I'm technically in violation.
Last edited by mom'sfolly (12/11/2007 11:01 am)

#3 12/11/2007 11:39 am
From: Hillsborough NC
Registered: 11/24/2007
Posts: 71 … d%3A163261

#4 12/11/2007 12:56 pm
From: Jersey Shore
Registered: 03/19/2007
Posts: 1298
According to the my town's regulations I can have 4 hens. No roo. (That's if I read it right) I will dig up the info and send it to you, the zoning part confuses me. Now I'm worried because our town has paid an assessment company to go to each house and yard and do their measuring etc. And I was worried about my hen house being too close to a neighbor's property, although they have no idea I have chickens. Anyway, I'll look it up for you.

#5 12/11/2007 1:15 pm
From: Southern Maine
Registered: 04/25/2007
Posts: 1004
Hi jjthink-
My daughter and I convinced our city to rewrite the zoning ordinance to allow pet hens. Here is a link to the web site we used during the "campaign":
and here is a link to the site we put up about the new law:
and the full ordinance text: … 96F%7D.DOC
I have a good word document that has language from several other cities ordinances as well. I worked with the city on the language so I did a substantial amount of research on the way other cities worded theirs. email me if you would like it, using the link on the sopochickens site.
Good luck,
Last edited by SeaChick (12/11/2007 1:16 pm)

#6 12/11/2007 1:20 pm
From: Los Angeles, California
Registered: 10/26/2007
Posts: 141
It's a good idea for the towns to realize backyard hens are here to stay. It's a growing pastime and the towns would be better to recognize and contain this through some sort of restrictions, rather than attempting to squelch the movement.
It would also be helpful to mention to the many larger cities, such as Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Los Angeles, etc. that allow chickens in residential areas.
Another idea is for you to follow Stacey's great example, ie. take your sweet daughter to plead the case! Who could deny such an articulate, winsome and passionate child a few backyard pets ?
Last edited by CarlaRiggs (12/11/2007 1:22 pm)

#7 12/11/2007 1:48 pm
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Registered: 03/12/2007
Posts: 4
Colorado Springs seems to have a fairly laid back approach.
Takes some looking but boils down to up to 10 hens no roosters and keep it clean. Springs/index.htm
Check Chapter 6, Article 7.
There are a couple of other areas also.
Search for fowl, chicken and rooster.
There is a whole Article on Pigeons!

#9 12/12/2007 11:26 am
From: Jersey Shore
Registered: 03/19/2007
Posts: 1298
You probably already have this info, if not here goes: … =0201_A...
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Just a few of the reasons chickens are good pets

- - Playful
- - Entertaining
- - Affectionate
- - They are good company
- - Children can learn a lot by caring for them
- - Much more quiet than dogs (even most roos do not sound off nearly as much as dogs do)
- - They don't hurt other people's pets, unlike some dogs
- - They can produce some natural food for their human family (eggs)
- - Their droppings make good, all natural fertilizer
- - Perform some natural pest control services, by eating bugs

Now turning this thread over to anyone who wants to plug in! Thanks

* I really hope that this thread can marshall enough resources to help a lot, JJT. I live in an area where people keep all kinds of TRULY DANGEROUS 'pets', like a man who got bit by his 'pet' cobra last year-- but my chicken is illegal?????
Hey Everyone,

Judy, this is an awesome idea!

If this board will get together bylaws that allow chickens within city limits that shows forward thinking I will copy it all and send it to the family in the middle of this whole mess. It should not be too hard to track them down.

Please make sure the bylaws can be referenced from a legitimate source/website so that the family can make a solid case for keeping backyard chickens.

Go Chicken Power!

Urban Coyote

P.S: Better yet, maybe I'll get in touch with the family and forward them to this board
If they can find information to prove how valuable chickens are then they'll find it no where!
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