Trying to Get Chickens in the City

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by gavinj77, Apr 27, 2008.

  1. gavinj77

    gavinj77 Hatching

    Apr 7, 2008
    I'm new here and have not posted yet...actually I registered hoping to find out information on my city and if I could have chickens. One look at the FAQ here and I checked MUNI codes...alas no chickens. [​IMG]

    Several months have passed and it finally dawned on me to go to city council to change the MUNI codes. Have any of you ever done this? I've drafted up an email to send to each council member along with the major, but am wondering if this is the best approach. I'd be willing to go to a council meeting of course, but I don't know how any of this works.

    So my question,

    What would you guys recommend I do?
    Would you guys mind giving me feedback on my letter and ways to improve it?

    I would so love to have chickens, (and goats - but that will never happen) in my backyard. We're hoping to move to the country but that won't be for several years. I was raised on a farm, my husband was not. Now our DD is 3 1/2 and DS is 2, I would love for them to get some of the exposure I got as a child, (not to mention all of the other positives to having chickens that I don't have to mention to you all as you fully understand).

    I would love any advice I could get on this matter as it is near and dear to my heart. Thank you very much for your time.


    *Edit guess it's only been a month since I registered and found out I can't have chickens....seems like forever [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2008
  2. ridgefire

    ridgefire Songster

    Jan 8, 2008
    Northern Michigan
    It will be an uphill battle, but it can be won. There are members here who have fought the battle and won. I believe its Seachick, who has posted here about changing the laws.
  3. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Hi Julie-
    My daughter and I convinced our city council to change our town's ordinance, but it was NOT an easy thing to do by any means. I think that you should be prepared for a really long and exhausting battle, and count yourself luck if it's easy!
    My daughter started by contacting our district's city councilor last May. She gave a presentation to him explaining why she thought she should be able to have a few pet hens in the city. he agreed to bring it to the Council and thought it would be pretty easy to pass. it wasn't, and my daughter and I spent pretty much our WHOLE summer running a campaign; the final vote was not until September.
    I'd be happy to share the procedure and experience we had if you like. Feel free to start here: and at the web site we used during the campaign:; which has lots of information you're free to use, as well as news stories (in reverse chronological order) about our summer. Here's the page where we rebuff the opposition:
    do you live? I think a key thing is to feel out what the opposition might be and shape your letter to that. Here, we started out asking for "backyard chickens" but the thing we ran up against was people's preconceived notions of chickens as nasty barnyard animals.... we needed to really stress the "suburban pet" thing to the city, and started saying "pet hens" instead. Also, if your community is at all progressive, the whole "green, sustainable" angle (which was our impetus for hens in the first place) is good to stress. I believe that the reason we prevailed was that we garnered a LOT of public support; over 500 people emailed the city coucilors in favor of allowing chickens. This was from email pleas we sent out, flyers and door-to-door talking to the community.
    I'd be happy to take a look at your letter and to share some of our letters and info we sent to the city, if you like. You can email me directly.
    Good luck!!
  4. gavinj77

    gavinj77 Hatching

    Apr 7, 2008
    Thank you for your responses. I really appreciate all your help!

    I live in Live Oak, TX a suburb of San Antonio. If I lived 1/2 a mile closer to San Antonio, I could have chickens.

    Based on the ordinance, (see below), the opposition appears to be health concerns. I have not spoken to anyone else concerning the ordinance except when I called city hall and asked about keeping hens, they said no, poultry is not allowed. Later I found the municiple code which reads as follows.

    "(q) Prohibited Animal. Any animal not normally born and raised in
    captivity, including but not limited to the following:

    (1) Class Reptilia: Family Helodermatidea (the venomous lizards) and all Varanidae (monitor); order Ophidia, family Boidoe (boas, pythons, anaconda); family Hydrophiidae (marine snakes); family Viperdae (rattlesnakes, pit vipers and true vipers); family Elapidae (coral snakes, cobras and mambas); family Colubridae, Disholidus Typus (boomslang), Cyclagras Gigas (water cobra), Boiga Dendrophila (mangrove snake) and Kirtlandii (twig snake) only; order Crocodilia (crocodiles, alligators and gavials);

    (2) Class Aves: Order Falconiforms (such as hawks, eagles and vultures) and subdivision Rapitae (such as ostriches, rhea, cassowaries, and emus);

    (3) Class Mammalia: Order Carnivora, (the family felidae) except cats; the family Canidae (such as wolves, dingos, coyotes, coydogs and jackals, or any hybrid thereof), except dogs; the family Mustelidae (such as weasels, skunks, martins, mink, badgers), the family Procyonidae (raccoon); the family Ursidae (such as bears); and order Marsupalia (such as kangaroos, oppossums); order Chroptera (bats); order Edentata (such as sloths, anteaters and armadillos); order Proboscidea (elephants); order Primata (such as monkeys, chimpanzees and gorilla); order Rodentia (such as porcupines); and order Ungulata (such as antelope, deer, bison, and camels);

    (4) Class Amphibia: Poisonous Frogs.

    (5) Livestock: any or all of the following: bovines, equines,
    swine, goats, sheep, poultry; or any other animal or fowl, which may cause a health hazard within the meaning of this Ordinance.

    Prohibited animal does not include normal household pets, such as
    a psittacine bird, canary, finch, cockatiel, hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, rabbit, domestic ferret, rat, mouse, sugar glider, hedgehog, fish, invertebrate, crustacean, or small nonpoisonous reptiles and amphibians."

    So I guess my first approach is going to have to be to debunk the health risks. I'll email you directly my letter...which is very basic...I was worried they wouldn't read the whole think if I went into too much detail [​IMG] Thank you again!


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: