Before getting started, make sure you’re in synch with the local ordinances in your town. They do vary quite a bit.
Here are a couple of lists with the ordinances for Oregon and Washington cities as well as some national ones. Because the interest in chicken raising is growing, it is best to check with your own local laws. If you find new information, feel free to let us know and we’ll update! Thanks!
Albany, OR. Not more than two chickens on any lot less than 7,000 square feet in area. Keep chickens10 feet from adjoining property lines and 20 feet from any public right-of-way.
Beaverton, OR. Except for “household pets,” no person shall keep or maintain livestock or poultry within the city…. http://groups.google.com/group/brightgreenbeaverton . . . Update: As of 2010 chickens are allowed: http://tinyurl.com/2aeloqg -or- http://tinyurl.com/2aeloqg
Coos Bay, OR. Chickens appear to be allowed; you have to purchase a one year permit and renew it every year, though.
Corvallis, OR. Unlimited chickens allowed. No roosters. Chickens must be penned.
Eugene, OR. A maximum of 2 hens, no roosters, kept 20 feet from dwellings.
Gresham, OR. Unlimited “livestock” allowed, provided they are kept 100ft. from neighbors, which is possible only on uncommonly large lots.
Hillsboro, OR. It is unlawful for any person to possess or harbor any livestock within the corporate limits of the city. The county offices say say chickens are not allowed but if no one complains then its unlikely any enforcement would happen.
Keizer, OR. Chickens are illegal but they work “on the complaint basis.” If no one complains you can keep them. If they do, you have to remove them.
Lake Oswego, OR. The town Clerk here says there is no limit on the number of chickens. Roosters are not prohibited, but if they crow they might be out of compliance with the noise ordinance.
Lebanon, OR. No fowl of any kind are allowed within Lebanon city limits. However, chickens are dealt with on a complaint-basis.
Milwaukie, OR. Up to 50 chickens, including roosters, except if neighbors complain, then noise violations will apply.
Oregon City, OR. You may keep 5 or fewer hens on a lot of 10,000 square feet if the chicken’s housing is kept 40 feet from the front property line, 20 feet from all other property lines, and 25 feet from the dwelling. Roosters prohibited.
Portland, OR. Three hens allowed without a permit. No roosters. Permit for more costs $31. Keep 25ft. from residences.
Salem, OR. There have been recent debates in Salem regarding the current law that chickens are illegal here. UPDATE: They are now legal: http://tinyurl.com/2535yv2
Stayton, OR. Unlimited chickens allowed for personal use only, not commercial selling of eggs. No laws concerning roosters, but if neighbors complain, the City will ask you to get rid of them. Chickens must be kept 10 feet from property lines.
Tigard, OR. No poultry or livestock, other than normal household pets, may be housed or in a fenced run within 100 feet of any nearby residence except a dwelling on the same lot
Battle Ground, WA. No restrictions on poultry or game birds, and roosters are allowed.
Bothell, WA. You may own 3 or less fowl. Must keep coop 20 ft. from your own property line. If your neighbors say it’s okay, you may place chickens closer to your shared property line.
Camas, WA. The city code doesn’t appear to explicitly outlaw chickens, but it just says you can’t keep any animal that becomes a “public nuisance.” And nuisance is defined there as “…annoying noise or odor, causing detriment to the health, safety and welfare of neighboring persons and properties…kept in such manner as to be nauseous, foul or offensive.”
Edmonds, WA. As of November 15, 2009, up to three hens (no roosters) may be kept per single family lot.
Everett, WA. No roosters. Five hens allowed without a permit. If you want more than five, you must get a facility license permit from Animal Services. This requires inspection of your facilities/property. Chickens must be kept enclosed.
Gig Harbor, WA. No regulations for animals except bees.
La Center, WA. Having a few chickens is neither specifically permitted nor prohibited under La Center current code. Conform to nuisance and health rules.
Lynnwood, WA. An accessory building for the housing of small animals or fowl shall not exceed 36 square feet in floor area when located on a residential lot and neither the building nor the fenced area for roaming shall be closer than 25 feet to a property line.
Mill Creek, WA. If you want to keep chickens, the square footage of your lot must be 7,500 sq. ft. Up to six hens allowed. Roosters illegal. thoroughfare.
Olympia, WA. Up to 3 birds, hens are considered, roosters prohibited.
Seatac, WA. Up to five chickens (including roosters) on any sized lot. The total number of chickens allowed will be reduced by the number of other animals (including cats and dogs) on the property.
Seattle, WA. Can have a total of three small animals; more if the lot is large. Municipal Code 23.44.048 says up to 3 domestic fowl may be kept on any lot.
Sedro-Woolley, WA. It is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to maintain any stable, pen, lot, place, or premises in which any horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, mink, fox, chinchilla, or any other animals, or in which any chickens, ducks, or other fowl or poultry may be confined or kept in such manner as to be nauseous, foul, or offensive to any community, neighbor, family, or person, or to allow such animals to roam at large within the city limits. (Ord. 828 § 4, 1976)
Spokane, WA. Up to three chickens allowed.. Can have up to three animals total.
Tacoma, WA. Livestock allowed in the city
Vancouver, WA. Chickens are allowed, however roosters and peacocks are not.
Woodinville, WA. No restrictions in the code for animals according to the planning department.
Urban Chicken Laws and Ordinances
It may be illegal for you to own chickens in your city, so call the local animal control office or your local municipality and ask what the laws are in your area. More and more ordinances are available online as well, so it’s worth doing a search. Since roosters are perceived as noisy, they usually tend to fall under your city’s noise/nuisance ordinances. While hens are normally very quiet, they may still be subject to nuisance ordinances. Check the city code before you get your birds and become attached to them! Some cities limit the number of chickens you can have on a given amount of land. In areas that were recently rural or have a strong farming culture, no law or license may be required to keep chickens. If chickens are illegal in your area all is not lost. Many people have managed to get pro-chicken ordinances passed by organizing and lobbying local government, such as Madison, WI, Portland, ME, and Ann Arbor MI.
What follows are laws from various US cities regarding the keeping of chickens.
Aiken, SC. Chickens must be penned, and the pen kept 40 ft. from neighboring residences.
Albuquerque, NM. Zoning allows the raising of unlimited chickens if penned at least 20 feet from neighboring dwellings.
Anaheim, CA. Can keep 3 chickens on a 5,000 sq.ft. lot, 6 chickens on a 10,000 sq.ft. lot.
Austin, TX. Up to 10 chickens per household allowed, but keep in an enclosure that’s 50 ft. away from neighbors.
Bakersfield, CA. Municipal code 6.08.010 Any chickens must be kept securely enclosed in a yard or pen at all times. A handcrafted chicken coop is perfect for you!
Boston, MA. All residential zones in Boston forbid “auxilliary keeping of animals”, which includes chickens and other livestock.
Burlington, VT. Up to 3 chickens per household.
Casper, WY. Chickens are sometimes allowed. For example, if your children are taking part in a 4-H project or you are learning to bake cakes and need to have a good supply of eggs!
Chicago, IL. Can keep as many chickens as you like but only if they will be your pets. You are not allowed to keep them for slaughter. You must also keep them penned.
Clive, IA. No more than 12 chickens on lots less than 1.5 acres. Must be 150 feet from homes and 50 feet from property line.
Corvallis, OR. Unlimited chickens allowed. No roosters though. Your Chickens must be penned, that’s what our chicken coops are for!
Davenport, IA. Chickens not allowed, unless property is zoned as agricultural.
Des Moines, IA. If you have 1 acre, you can have up to 30 chickens; lots 1 acre or larger, up to 50 chickens. You are not allowed to keep them in the front yard, and must be at least 25′ from neighbors.
Detroit, MI. Not allowed sorry. No “farm animals.” Is a chicken with a name that sits on your knee in the backyard a farm animal?
Falls Church, VA. Chickens not allowed.
Gresham, OR. Unlimited chickens allowed, provided your chicken coop is kept 100ft. from neighbors.
Houston, TX. Up to 30 chickens allowed. Chickens must be kept 100 feet from neighboring properties.
Huntsville, AL. Chickens must be kept 150 ft. from the neighbors.
Johnston, IA. “No chickens shall be allowed to run at large within the corporate limits of the city…” That means a chicken coop would work just fine.
Lawrenceville, GA. No chickens allowed. However, apparently this law is only enforced if someone complains. So maybe speak to you neighbors first to check they are happy.
Little Rock, AR. Up to four chickens allowed, a perfect fit for your chicken coop!
Los Angeles, CA. You can keep as many as you like but 20 feet away of owner’s residence, and must be at least 35 feet from any other dwelling.
Madison, WI. Up to four chickens per household allowed. You are not allowed to let your chickens roam free. Keep your chicken coop 25 ft. from your neighbors. There is a $6 annual permit required.
Miami, FL. May have up to 15 hens, no roosters. Must be contained at least 100 feet from neighboring structures.
Minneapolis, MN. Unlimited. Applicant needs consent from 80 percent of neighbors within 100 feet of real estate. Chickens must be penned.
Mobile, AL. You can keep as may hens as you like here but no breeding allowed so definitely no to roosters!
Mountain View, CA. Up to 4 hens without a permit can be kept. Keep them 25 ft. from residences. Within 25 ft. is OK with written consent from neighbors. No roosters.
Nampa ID. You can keep 3 chickens here if they are kept 50 ft. from neighbors. You need a permit which costs $50. No roosters.
New York City. You can keep as many chickens as you like. You have to have a permit for your chickens. Must be kept clean. No roosters.
Oswego, NY. Can only have chickens that were “grandfathered.” Not sure what this means…
Ponca City, OK. Chickens must be kept 100 ft. from neighbor’s houses.
Portland, Oregon. You are allowed three hens without a permit. Roosters are not allowed. You need to apply for a permit to keep chickens. Permit for more costs $31. Any coops must be kept more than 25ft. from residences.
Portland, ME. Up to six hens within city limits. Roosters not allowed.
Rochester, NY requires a $25 license for keeping pet chickens; in the city limits, no roosters and no commercial breeding allowed. Coops must be kept 25 feet away from houses. Coops must provide a minimum of four square feet of room per bird; the chicken coop and run together measures 26.75sqft or 6.7sqft per chicken if you have 4 chickens in the chicken coop. Your coop set-up must be inspected before adding chickens, to make sure it provides enough space and healthy conditions for the birds. Licensing and inspection is done through the Rochester City Police Department (Sgt. DeAngelo). The online city code which outlines this can be found in Chapter 30, Section 19.
Round Rock, TX. Up to 5 chickens if your chicken pen is 25 ft. away from neighbor’s residences. If the pen is 50 ft. away, you can have 10 chickens.
San Antonio, TX. Up to 5 chickens, any gender, per household. Must keep in a chicken coop, 20 feet from any other dwelling.
San Jose, CA. You can keep up to 6 chickens at least 20 ft. from residences. Up to 4 chickens 15 ft. away from residences. No roosters.
Santa Fe, NM. You are allowed as many chickens as you like here.
Santa Rosa, CA. May have up to 25 chickens. No chickens in residential areas zoned R1, R2 or PRC.
Seattle, WA. Can have a total of three chickens; more if the lot is large.
Sioux City, IA. A Permit is required here. No roosters over 4 months old. No more than 50 birds in total. Must be kept at least 25′ from the home and at least 150′ from neighboring homes.
Spokane, WA. Up to three chickens allowed here.
Syracuse, NY. Chickens are sometimes allowed here. It depends on your zoning. But definitely no roosters!
Topeka, KS. Unlimited chickens allowed. Your chickens must be 50 feet from any neighbors house.
Urbandale, IA. Your chickens must be kept at least 150 feet from any dwelling.
Waukee, IA. No chickens shall be kept within the city limits of the City, except in A-1 District or A-2 Annexation District on tracts of one (1) or more acres.
West Des Moines, IA. Chickens must be kept in a chicken coop.
Westfield, MA. Chickens not allowed.
Windsor Heights, IA. No more than 2 chickens allowed they must be kept in a chicken coop and run at all times. They must be at least 25′ from neighboring residences, and may not be in the front yard.