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

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