Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances for Elkhart County, Indiana

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by Hydropup, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. Hydropup

    Hydropup New Egg

    Jun 27, 2011
    I am interested in having a small chicken tractor with 2 or 3 Silky Bantam hens in my backyard. I want to check with the local laws for Elkhart County, Indiana to make sure it is allowed. Have been searching all over the internet and can not find who to contact or a web site that gives me guidelines to follow. Any suggestions???? All help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
  2. ChooksinChoppers

    ChooksinChoppers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 24, 2011
    Ocala, Florida.
    Have a look in here. I didnt see your county listed so you will have to go by town. when you find the right town or city type in chickens or fowl or poultry in the search box at the top right side of the page. [​IMG] and if you need more help just come back here and ask. [​IMG]

  3. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 30, 2011
    Springfield, Ohio
    [​IMG] Hi Hydropup. I was in a similar situation as you, and online searching (even on my local governement website) was not helpful. State laws are readily available in Ohio, but are written to apply to commercial producers. Ultimately, I made three phone calls. First, I called the County ag extension office. They weren't quite sure if it was OK for me to keep chickens, , but they referred me to the local 4H offices. There, I was told that they were aware of the zoning ordinances as they applied to keeping chickens for show (it was specifically legal for 4H projects), but weren't sure if it was still OK for non-4Hers to keep chickens. They referred me to the township zoning officer. I had been avoiding that call, which should have been my first, because I was somehow afraid that they would say no. People told me that I should avoid letting them know who/where I was so that I could still keep chicks even if it were illegal. I wanted to avoid legal problems down the road, so I called, and was prepared to abide by the law.

    It was the right call to make. The zoning officer was of course very knowledgable and asked me a few simple questions. The bottom line is that, in the county where 4H began, there is a good deal of tolerance for folk keeping chickens, though no specific laws saying 'yes you can' or 'no you can't.' It's an accepted grey area, and as long as there are no nusiance issues (smell, large number of fowl, noise, etc.) there will be no problem at the local level. These nusiance issues are enforced by the state. No nuisance, no legal issues.

    I did this all BEFORE I even broke ground on a coop, as it sounds you are doing. I'm glad that I did, doubly so because I can have the chickens I've always wanted to have. I see that Your area has a strong 4H program, so there is likely to be some local government experience related to the keeping of pet chickens. Just be mindful that there are sometimes covenants for subdivisions, or HOAs, that can have their own guidelines for or against chickens. If you live in a developed area you should also look into those ordinances.

    I hope that my experience is of help, or at least of interest to you. Best of luck, and keep coming back!
  4. Vida Organica

    Vida Organica New Egg

    Feb 16, 2013
    hi hydropup, Did you ever figure out about Elkhart's zoning laws? I live in Elkhart county as well and haven't had the best of luck online finding an answer. Thanks!
  5. HeatherH

    HeatherH New Egg

    May 10, 2013
    Hi! I live in Goshen, and we're trying to get hens permitted in town. Meanwhile I've been hearing about regulations out in the county. The official line is you need just over 3 acres to keep chickens. If you need details about size of chicken housing or the limits on the number of chickens, i would encourage you to call County Zoning department. If they don't know, they can tell you what department to ask.

    Commercial scale chicken houses would need approval from building department, etc. But if you're asking here, you're probably not hoping to run a CAFO.

    The rest of the story is that in our area, regulations are enforced only when a neighbor complains. So if you have less than 3 acres, and you want to keep a small number of hens, chances are your neighbors either won't know you have them or won't care. Meaning you can probably fly under the radar.

    Good luck to you!
  6. CVAN732000

    CVAN732000 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 17, 2014
    South Central Michigan
    Just an update since this thread is old... Preparing to buy a house and checked local law. For county addresses (typically those with a five digit house number), a minimum of 3 acres (contiguous if parceled) is required for livestock. According to local Elkhart County law, chickens are listed as just that...livestock. As far as I can tell, backyard chickens, ducks, etc. are still illegal within city limits.

    Hope this helps those in the same situation as myself.

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