I do love keeping a little flock of chickens! The eggs, the fresh meat, the way they eat bugs like ticks, spiders and other icky creepy crawlers, all add up to great reasons to keep a flock of chickens. These bevy of beauties have other benefits, too, including the excellent fertilizer their droppings produce when composted (never put it on without composting it first, as it will burn your plants!)
What chickens do, they do well and that is one reason there are laws restricting their presence in many areas. When digging for bugs, chickens can fairly quickly move a mountain of mulch around landscaped plants, leaving bare ground when scratching for bugs. Likewise, chickens have destroyed more than a few vegetable gardens. Their droppings, when left and not cleaned up, can be unsightly, stink, and draw flies. Roosters crowing can also be annoying to close neighbors. These are a few of the reasons chickens have been “regulated,” and in many places are illegal to raise. In short, people fear their property values will fall. Who wants to buy a house next to a chicken farm, after all? However, with proper care, a well-managed backyard flock can be kept without any of these problems being presented to the neighbors.
Are Chickens Legal to Keep in Your Area?
So, you have decided you want a backyard flock, and you’ve learned all the basics of keeping a small flock; how do you find out if it’s legally okay for you keep them? If your land is zoned as agricultural, you’re probably okay, but if you are zoned residential you will want to check with the following government offices to see what regulations or laws might be on the books concerning your ability to keep chickens in your area:
- Zoning Board
- Local Board of Health
- Animal Control
- Building and Construction office to check on necessary permits for building a chicken coop
Contacting any of these local-to-you groups and they ought to be able to tell you whatever restrictions are in place about raising chickens. Even if all the local government offices say you’re clear, don’t forget to check with your HOA, or homeowner’s association, if you belong to one.
No Chickens Allowed!
If you find chickens are not allowed in your area, don’t be too discouraged. Find other folks wanting to keep a flock, and band together to change the laws. You can attend zoning board meetings, talk to local politicians, or start a petition drive to allow backyard chickens. Be vocal, write letters to the editor of your local paper, talk to your neighbors to see if they agree with you, and whatever you do, don’t give up! There are many of these ordinances against raising chickens that are being overturned all over the country. Nothing succeeds like voters pushing for an issue. Politicians want votes, so show them voters with an opinion and win them over to your side.
Raising Backyard Chickens
Many urban areas have a group of people actively encouraging the raising of backyard chicken flocks. Check the Backyard Poultry Meetup pages for a group near you! Once you do find them, your fellow backyard chicken enthusiasts can be a source of much information, political pressure to the right officials and encouragement. Often, they meet together on a monthly basis. Keeping backyard chickens is an ever increasingly popular undertaking so you may see a lot of interest in chicken-keeping with other local folks.