Keeping Urban Chickens and the Law

Urban chicken keeping is quite popular, your neighbors might even have chickens and you don’t even know it! Chickens are quiet, it’s roosters that are loud and become the neighborhood nuisance. Every city has laws pertaining to keeping backyard chickens, but they are seldom if ever enforced unless there’s a complaint. So, no roosters!

There has to be laws, and be glad there are, nobody wants to have a neighbor with a gazillion birds  stinking up the neighborhood. But I can assure you there aren’t any chicken police knocking on doors of keepers having a few birds responsibly kept in a clean and secure environment.

Let’s be realistic, if you live in a suburban subdivision where the houses are only a few feet apart and you pay an HOA – keeping chickens is definitely a bad choice. Keeping chickens under the radar is also a bad idea, you could have your chickens confiscated by authorities, be fined, or both. However, if keeping chickens is allowed in your city and you have a spacious, private, and fenced back yard, a few hens won’t cause a disturbance. But, there are still rules and unwritten laws to follow.

Your hens should be completely out of sight from all neighbors and the public. That means building a privacy fence or planting bushes that add appeal to your property. It’s never a good idea to draw attention to the fact you are keeping chickens as not everybody will graciously welcome them. Many people believe they harbor disease, smell, attract flies, rodents, and the list goes on and on. You should have enough space for your hens to be confined in a fenced area attached to a coop or shelter.

My personal rule of thumb is to keep birds no less than 40 feet from your neighbors house, even if the ordinance in your city requires less.  If you can do this, there shouldn’t be a problem with neighbors unless you fail to keep them clean or confined.

Remember, the law may give you the right to keep chickens, but nuisance laws give your neighbors the same right to say you can’t. Be responsible, clean, and maintain your small flock with integrity.

Phoenix, Arizona  Ordinance Sec. 8

Author: amy elizabeth

Writer, Author, Artist, Chicken Keeping Resource Blogger

3 thoughts on “Keeping Urban Chickens and the Law”

  1. Boy, I would love to keep chickens but if I followed your advice, I wouldn’t be able to. However, it seems that it’s OK for my neighbors dogs and cats to run free and cr*p all over my yard and vegetable garden, not to mention the stink and flies their gift attracts! I’ve called animal control and emailed them until I was blue in the face. It took a few years, that’s right, years, before they finally got the dog problem solved. Now, it’s the cats who roam free. It isn’t the animals that are the problem, it’s the owners.

    1. I know a fence can be an investment, but in this case it may prove a worthy one. It wouldn’t solve anything with cats, but a dog on your side of the fence would take care of that. We put up a 7 foot perimeter block fence, not much gets over that, and if my neighbors want to snoop they’ll need a ladder. ha ha

      1. I put up a chain link fence on the back of my property because the neighbor I had back there allowed his dog, the size of a pony (named “Baby”) to come over to my yard and do his business. The fencing on the east and west side of my property belongs to my neighbors and had been fine up until last year when my “east” neighbor decided to take her fencing down because she said it was infested with termites. Now she ties her dog up in her yard. On the “west” side of me I think the house is abandoned. The fence is slowly falling apart. A tree from that yard fell on my property and damaged my chain link fence and part of their wood fence. I brought it to the attention of the neighbors I had when the house was occupied. She had some of the branches removed but left the area a mess. She and her husband have since died. If my “east” neighbor’s dog doesn’t keep the cats away, what makes you think me owning a dog would work? I would probably end up with a dog barking it’s head off at the cats. No thanks! And, why would I want to continue shelling out money for fencing that my irresponsible, obnoxious neighbors would also benefit from? Again, no thanks. Once was enough.

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