Are There Laws against Backyard Chickens?

  • Published on January 31st, 2011 by

Can you legally keep chickens in your backyard?

Many people curious about keeping chickens for eggs and meat want to know: can I raise chickens in my backyard? There is a lot of confusion about whether or not one can actually keep chickens on their suburban lot, since the ordinances vary from town to town in individual states.

However, you may be happy to discover that more often than not, it is perfectly legal to keep chickens, even if you live in a fairly conventional town.

This handy website has a directory organized by state that you can search for local chicken laws. Not all town listings are available, but this website is a good start to learn how feasible it is to keep chickens, and what the terms are. (If you learn the local chicken laws in your town and they are not listed here, you can submit them.) Some towns have limits for number of birds, and others do not allow roosters at all. Links are provided to municipal ordinances for reference and details.

I was happy to learn that many towns in New Jersey (where I grew up) do in fact allow chickens, for example. You wouldn’t guess it since so few people actually take advantage of that little known freedom, but there ya go! There is hope!

If you don’t have any luck determining what your local laws are regarding backyard chickens, give your local animal control office a call to find out.

Image credit: flickr via Steven-L-Johnson

About the Author

I’m a 26-year-old currently living at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in northeast Missouri, an intentional community devoted to sustainable living and culture change. Things you might find me doing here (other than blogging) are building with natural materials, gardening, beekeeping, making cheese, candlemaking, and above all else, living simply.

You can read about my on-going natural building projects at: