Laws about Raising Backyard Chickens

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Nate Smith of

The Law Regarding Raising Backyard Chickens (and How to Not Get Stung!)

There are quite a few different things that go into preparing to raise backyard chickens. None of which however, are as important as figuring out the laws in your local area in regards to keeping chickens. Everything rests on that point because as you can image, if you are not allowed to raise chickens on your property, what’s the point of preparing to do so? That being said, let’s take a quick look into that point and see what you need to do in order to accurately find out the laws in your own town.

Talk to Local Offices

The very first think you should do when contemplating raising backyard chickens is to speak with your local government offices. If you live within a city, this would be the city government offices; or county offices if you do not live within the boundaries of a city. You can call, but I chose to go in person. Calling ahead might be a good idea just so you can make sure you are going to the right place. If your city offices are anything like mine, there are plenty of them!

Finding out that you can raise chickens in your backyard is not enough. You will need to know all the details. For example, there might be a limit on how many chickens you can raise. Sometimes there will be a flat number, ie. no more than 10 chickens. Other times, as is the case for me, there will be more of a graduated scale where maybe you can raise 4 chickens, or 8, or 12, depending on the square footage of your property.

The quantity of chickens that you can raise isn’t the only aspect that will be brought into question. There can be other restrictions as well, such as whether or not you can have a rooster, or whether or not you can slaughter chickens in your backyard (if that is even something you had in mind). It’s good to look into all of those issues before going out and buying a chicken coop and 10 chicks.

What if I Cannot Raise Chickens Where I live?

There is a chance that this might be the case. Don’t stress about this just yet; wait to see if that is indeed the law where you live. If you find that it is, I strongly suggest being an advocate of sorts where you live. It doesn’t take very many voices to get a law changed. In fact, it has only been about five years or so that my own city has allowed raising backyard chickens.

Look to see if you can attend a city council meeting (or equivalent) and bring up this issue. Plan out ahead of time what you would like to say, bringing up all the many good reasons that you can think of. My experience has been that no one on city council wants to be that one person that seems unreasonable while the others are all for the idea. Good luck!

Nate Smith writes about raising backyard chickens in both urban and rural settings. He focuses on the how-to’s including knowing your local laws, housing, feeding and caring for your flock. Visit Nate Smith at