Is it legal to keep chickens in my backyard?
It may be illegal for you to own chickens in your city, so call your local municipality and ask what the laws are in your area. More and more ordinances are available online as well, so it may be worth doing a search. Since roosters are perceived as noisy, they usually tend to fall under your city’s noise/nuisance ordinances. While hens are normally very quiet, they may still be subject to nuisance ordinances, and many localities may place limits on the number of birds you may keep on a given amount of land. Check the city code before you get your birds and become attached to them! In areas that were recently rural or have a strong farming culture, no law or license may be required to keep chickens. If chickens are illegal in your area do not despair. Many individuals have managed to get pro-chicken ordinances passed by organizing and lobbying local government, such as in Madison, WI, Portland, ME, and Ann Arbor MI. What follows are laws from various US cities regarding the keeping of chickens. As you are likely aware, laws can and do change, so we do not guarantee the accuracy or current status of any of this information. It is provided only as a guide, and you should plan to do your own due diligence before purchasing your chickens!
Aiken, SC. Chickens must be penned, and the pen kept 40 ft. from neighboring residences.
Albuquerque, NM. Allows the raising of unlimited chickens if penned at least 20 feet from neighboring dwellings.
Anaheim, CA. Can keep 3 chickens on a 5,000 sq.ft. lot, 6 chickens on a 10,000 sq.ft. lot.
Austin, TX. Up to 10 chickens per household allowed, but keep in an enclosure that’s 50 ft. away from neighbors.
Bakersfield, CA. Municipal code 6.08.010 Any chickens must be kept securely enclosed in a yard or pen at all times.
Bellingham, WA. OK here…just have to keep them “confined”….one of our coops will work great!
Boston, MA. All residential zones in Boston forbid “auxiliary keeping of animals”, which includes chickens.
Burlington, VT. Up to 3 chickens per household.
Casper, WY. Chickens are sometimes allowed. For example, if your children are taking part in a 4-H project.
Chicago, IL. Can keep as many chickens as you like but only as pets, not for slaughter.
Clive, IA. No more than 12 chickens on lots less than 1.5 acres.
Corvallis, OR. Unlimited chickens allowed. No roosters though. Your Chickens must be penned.
Davenport, IA. Chickens not allowed, unless property is zoned as agricultural.
Des Moines, IA. If you have 1 acre, you can have up to 30 chickens; lots 1 acre or larger, up to 50 chickens.
Detroit, MI. No “farm animals.” Is a chicken with a name that sits on your knee in the backyard a farm animal?
Falls Church, VA. Chickens not allowed.
Gresham, OR. Unlimited chickens allowed, provided your chicken coop is kept 100ft. from neighbors.
Houston, TX. Up to 30 chickens allowed. Chickens must be kept 100 feet from neighboring properties.
Huntsville, AL. Chickens must be kept 150 ft. from the neighbors.
Johnston, IA. “No chickens shall be allowed to run at large within the corporate limits of the city…” Coop em!
Lawrenceville, GA. No chickens allowed. However, apparently this law is only enforced if someone complains.
Little Rock, AR. Up to four chickens allowed, a perfect fit for your chicken coop!
Los Angeles, CA. You can keep as many as you like but 20 feet away of owner’s residence.
Lynden, WA. You can have up to 3 hens here in the city limits. No roosters.
Madison, WI. Up to four chickens per household allowed. Keep your chicken coop 25 ft. from your neighbors.
Miami, FL. May have up to 15 hens, no roosters. Must be contained at least 100 feet from neighboring structures.
Minneapolis, MN. Unlimited. Applicant needs consent from 80 percent of neighbors within 100 feet of real estate.
Mobile, AL. You can keep as may hens as you like here but no breeding allowed so definitely no to roosters!
Mountain View, CA. Up to 4 hens without a permit can be kept. Keep them 25 ft. from residences. No roosters.
Nampa, ID. You can keep 3 chickens here if they are kept 50 ft. from neighbors. No roosters.
New York City. You can keep as many chickens as you like. You have to have a permit for your chickens.
Oswego, NY. Can only have chickens that were “grandfathered.” Not sure what this means…
Ponca City, OK. Chickens must be kept 100 ft. from neighbor’s houses.
Portland, Oregon. You are allowed three hens. No Roosters. Coops must be kept more than 25ft. from residences.
Portland, ME. Up to six hens within city limits. Roosters not allowed.
Rochester, NY. requires a $25 license for keeping pet chickens; in the city limits, no roosters.
Round Rock, TX. Up to 5 chickens if your chicken pen is 25 ft. away from neighbor’s residences.
San Antonio, TX. Up to 5 chickens, any gender, per household. Must keep in a chicken coop.
San Jose, CA. You can keep up to 4 chickens 15 ft. away from residences. No roosters.
Santa Fe, NM. You are allowed as many chickens as you like here.
Santa Rosa, CA. May have up to 25 chickens. No chickens in residential areas zoned R1, R2 or PRC.
Seattle, WA. Can have a total of three chickens; more if the lot is large.
Sioux City, IA. A Permit is required here. No roosters over 4 months old. No more than 50 birds in total.
Spokane, WA. Up to three chickens allowed here.
Syracuse, NY. Chickens are sometimes allowed here. It depends on your zoning. But definitely no roosters!
Topeka, KS. Unlimited chickens allowed. Your chickens must be 50 feet from any neighbors house.
Urbandale, IA. Your chickens must be kept at least 150 feet from any dwelling.
Waukee, IA. No chickens shall be kept within the city limits of the City.
West Des Moines, IA. Chickens must be kept in a chicken coop.
Westfield, MA. Chickens not allowed.
Windsor Heights, IA. No more than 2 chickens allowed they must be kept in a chicken coop and run at all times.