Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by artisan1, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. artisan1

    artisan1 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 27, 2008
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Does anyone know the history of laws that outlawed urban chickens? I'm sure that originally there were no laws. What was the rational for putting the laws into place and when did it happen?


  2. HeatherHillary

    HeatherHillary Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 9, 2008
    Portland OR
    It happened anywhere from around 1920, to the 1980's, from what I have seen in my extensive bylaw research.

    The more recent bylaws usually came about because there were irresponsible chicken owners who annoyed their neighbors so badly, that the neighbors went to their city halls and altered city bylaws. Chickens roaming loose, crowing roosters, and smelly, unclean, and unsightly coops were the most common annoyances.

    Older bylaws outlawing city poultry seem to reflect a general feeling of city dwellers, that they left the country to get away from all of those smelly dirty animals and people. They had arisen above all that and didn't want to be associated with that image or those people anymore. That is just me reading between the lines, but I have read a lot of those old bylaws, and that is the impression that they give me. There is a bit of legitimate concern that people not keep poultry in their houses, and they shouldn't be butchering them willy-nilly in and around their houses, and manure management can be an issue, but health concerns didn't really seem to be at the heart of these old bylaws.
  3. SewingDiva

    SewingDiva Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think a couple of factors came into play that created the passage of anti-backyard chickens. I've done some research into this as well; I can't annotate anything, so really this is just my opinion.

    Up until WWII chickens were primarily raised for eggs on family farm operations. The birds used in those operations were the dual-purpose breeds that many of us have here on BYC. The separation of chickens into "meat birds" and "egg layers" appears to have come about when the modern Cornish X hybrid meat bird was developed in the late 1950's. I believe (but I’m not certain) that the White Leghorn commonly used for production egg laying was developed at the same time as well

    It seems that these two events helped create the rationale for both large battery chicken operations for egg production on a massive scale and for large meat bird operations on a massive scale. Once the animals were able to be genetically modified to conform to industrial production producers were able to scale up to the huge operations we see today and appears that the 1950's to the 80's is the period when communities began to widely outlaw backyard chickens because they wanted to separate commercial operations from residential zones.

    What we see today with BYC is people wanting to go back to a less industrial method of food production as a backlash against the big agribusiness companies that dominate the world food supply and the fight to overturn anti-backyard chicken laws is part of that movement.

    That's my view!
  4. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    My grandmother raised white leghorns in the 1920s (and her mother before her); they weren't developed in the 1950s; I'm pretty sure they have been around for a very, very long time.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by