Q: How do I figure out whether or not I'm allowed to keep chickens in my area?
A: We know you're dying to start keeping chickens--but you don't want to get a flock of beauties only to find out later that they're illegal and have to give them up! That said, determining if it's legal to keep chickens in your area can sometimes be a little complex.
Here's our best advice to determine if you are permitted to keep chickens in your neighborhood:
First, we recommend you contact both your local health and zoning boards to see if there are any regulations relating to keeping chickens in your area. In addition to local regulations, if there is a home owner's association for your neighborhood, you'll also want to contact them to find out if there are additional regulations related to keeping chickens in your neighborhood. (Make sure to do that BEFORE you make a purchase of chickens!) Sometimes one group will have regulations, even when the others don't---that's why you want to contact any local authorities that can regulate what you do with your property.
Some towns have their municipal codes available on the Internet on sites like these:
However, not all will. In that case, you may be able to find your local ordinances by doing an internet search for your town's name and state, along with "livestock ordinances" in the search field. You could also call your local city hall and ask them what the livestock ordinances apply to your area. Sometimes a county clerk or someone else familiar with the regulations can really help make sense of some of the legal jargon used to write the codes and can get you to the correct regulations right off without having to wade through everything on an internet site. It's true, too, though, that sometimes someone in authority will just assume chickens are NOT allowed in town when regulations DO allow them, so having direct access to your municipal code can help you in those instances where a clerk is mistaken.
Again, common sense tells you to make sure you check all this out before making any purchases of coops, brooders and so on, and ESPECIALLY before making any reservations for baby chicks. Remember, at My Pet Chicken, we must havenotice if an order must be cancelled because we need time to find new adopters for any babies you decided you couldn't care for after all, so be sure to have all your ducks---or chickens?---in a row before moving forward with your family's plans to keep chickens at your home.