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Chicken Laws for Homeowners*

Washington Cities

Bellevue: 6 Chickens, 25 feet from neighbors property

Gresham: Unlimited chickens, 100ft from neighbors property

Issaquah: 1 Chicken for every 2,000 square feet of land

Olympia: 3 Chickens, No roosters

Redmond: 10 Chickens, must have .5+ acres

Seattle: 3 Chickens

Spokane: 3 Chickens

Oregon Cities

Bend: 4 Chickens, $100 Permit

Corvallis: No restriction, Unlimited Roosters and Hens

Eugene: 2 Chickens

Gresham: Unlimited Chickens, > 100' from neighbors property

Salem: 4 chickens, $40 permit

California Cities

Anaheim: 3 chickens on a 5,000 sq.ft. lot, 6 chickens on a 10,000 sq.ft. lot.

Bakersfield: Chickens must be kept securely enclosed in a yard or pen at all times

Berkeley: Unlimited Hens, 25 feet from neighbors house

Irvine: 2 Hens

Mountain View: 4 hens without a permit. 25 ft. from residences.

Los Altos: 1 chicken per 1,000 square foot lot space

Los Angeles: 1 Rooster, Unlimited Hens, 35' from neighbors house

Oakland: Unlimited Hens, 20 feet from neighbors house

San Jose: 6 Hens, 20 feet from neighbors house

San Francisco: 4 Hens, 20 feet from any house

Santa Monica: 13 chickens

Arizona Cities

Flagstaff: 75 ft from neighbors property

Mesa: 10 chickens, 1 rooster, 40 ft from neighbors

Owning chickens has become a very heated topic in many cities yet is something most people know little about. 
Most people agree that it is a right every American should have.  Those that disagree are often under misconceptions based on lack of accurate information.   There is no viable reason for any restrictions on urban chickens. 


-Fresh eggs, nutrient rich fertilizer, and pest reduction

-Chickens require less space than most animals, only 10 square feet per bird

-They are less disturbing than dogs.  dog bark = 90 decibel level.  Hens clucking = 60-70 dBA

-Their small flock low stress conditions reduce the spread of avian flu.  Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states on their website: “There is no need at present to remove a family flock of chickens because of concerns regarding avian flu.” 

-Backyard flocks fed organic and fresh food have much healthier eggs with more nutritional value and less cholesterol.  They do not contain the high levels of Campylobacter found in commercially produced eggs that kills 124 people a year.

-They do not attract predators because they are contained in a coop that has no access to predators

-Chickens are scavengers eating ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, stink bugs, slugs, as well as mice, baby rats and small snakes.

-Chick Coops can be beautiful structures that add to the neighborhood and the house value

Advantages of Free Range Eggs (according to a 2007 test done by Mother Earth News)

•1/3 less cholesterol
•1/4 less saturated fat
•2/3 more vitamin A
•2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
•3 times more vitamin E
•7 times more beta carotene

Chickens have distinct personalities that entertain while being lower maintenance pets than goldfish.  I fill my automatic waterer and feeder twice per month and move their droppings into the compost once per month.


Prepared for; City of Delaware City Council
City of Delaware Planning Commission Council Meeting Monday February 13, 2012


Many of our parents WWII Victory Gardens, small family farms and CHICKENS were the way our predecessors nourished America for many years. Looking to the past will be the way to guarantee a quality, health-giving food source for the future. It’s also fun and exciting raising and breeding chickens.

The benefits to backyard chickens are many (pest control, fertilizer, eggs, entertainment), so it makes perfect sense that rational people would seek to legalize the keeping of hens on their own property.

Time and again, however, the rational pursuit of changing the law runs into an emotional barrier thrown up by NIMBYs and others who see city chickens as a retreat to less sophisticated times. The lack of sophistication, however, is typically found in the arguments against city chickens that, no matter how specious, still grab the imagination and make perfectly rational members of city government act in irrational ways.

I've identified the FOUR MOST COMMON MYTHS introduced as fact in the argument against chickens in the backyard:

  1. Chickens produce too much poop - the fact of the matter is that dogs and cats produce much more excrement in a week than a flock of four hens. And while the chicken manure can be converted easily into fertilizer to help your garden grow, for health reasons, you cannot do the same with dog and cat poop.

  2.  It’ll cost too much to enforce an urban chicken law  - the kind of people who want to raise chickens in their backyards for eggs are doing so out of a sense responsibility for taking control of their food sourcing and reducing their carbon footprint. These are not the kinds of folks who'll be requiring animal control to come out and bust chicken owners for too many animals making too much noise.

  3. Owning chickens means hosting salmonella in your backyard - the food safety folks have done a great job sensitizing the public to take care in handling chickens so as to avoid salmonella. The simpletons spreading salmonella fears as an argument against urban chickens don't seem to understand that salmonella is a problem of safe food handling, not of responsible pet ownership.

  4. Backyard chickens will spread the bird flu - the fact is, it's through backyard flocks that we might insulate ourselves from the spread of the H5N1 virus and the like that tear through the million-bird in-bred flocks of large-scale agribusiness. But, of all the arguments against urban chickens, this is the point most often deployed as an end-of-discussion "so there."

The local food movement is flourishing, and by keeping backyard chickens you can take pride in being a food producer and not just a consumer.
Think of all the recent factory farm egg recalls in the news – gross! When you raise your own eggs you know what the animal ate, its living conditions, and how it was treated.

Fresh foods simply taste better and eggs are no exception. Combine chicken keeping with a vegetable garden and you’ll never look at store bought eggs & produce the same way.
That’s right, chicken poop is high in nitrogen and great for your compost pile. Give your vegetable garden the nutrient boost it needs.

Every time a town or city considers allowing backyard chickens, opponents present their concerns and worries

“The Common Arguments”.
Here are the four most common.

Chickens are farm animals and do not belong in the city

Actually, for thousands of years, people have routinely kept chickens as “pets with benefits” in the same way as they kept dogs and cats to provide a service (guarding the home, hunting, ratting.) Up to the 1950s, many housewives would keep chickens to provide “egg money.” While it is not practical to keep large livestock in an urban setting, chickens are small, quiet, and need little space. In many urban environments, they go unnoticed.

Chickens smell

All animals have a distinct smell. People smell. And every animal smells more when it is kept in confined, crowded conditions, with no access to free air or sunlight and no ability to clean itself. The build up of manure at large chicken farms can generate odor issues. However, a well-maintained coop, which is cleaned regularly and permits the chickens the right to roam around in fresh air, will have no odor issues. Five hens generate less manure than one medium-sized dog. Again. unlike dog manure, chicken manure is actually useful and can be used for compost or even fuel.

Chickens are noisy

Hens are quiet birds. Ask any child "What does a rooster say?" and they will throw their head back and give you all they've got! But hens, are a different story. They usually make a soft, contented clucking sound--until they lay an egg. Then they get very excited and proud and will squawk for a few moments and then settle back down. They do not make a ruckus in the morning like their male counterparts and they are fast asleep in their coop by the time the sun goes down. Unlike the neighborhood dogs or cats!

Chickens attract predators

Chicken predators are the same as those of squirrels, rabbits, and small birds. By themselves, they do not attract predators. If owners keep feed locked securely away, and ensure their hens are in secure, well-built coops, predators are not an issue.

It is food that attracts rodents, not the birds. If you have wild bird feeders in your back yard, you run the same risk.
Here are top reasons why Backyard Chickens belong in the city:
  1. City Chickens as bargain-basement backyard city workers.

    The most economic and politically compelling reason to keep hens is to recycle food and yard waste, therefore keeping it out of landfills as it composts into an invaluable organic soil builder for your garden. The idea is that you feed your chickens kitchen scraps, they poop out a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, and you compost it with leaves and other untreated yard waste.
    In fact, in Belgium, one city is actually giving three laying hens to 2,000 homes in an effort to reduce landfill costs. City officials expect to recover a significant portion of the $600,000 a year the city spends on dealing with this type of household "trash." A single chicken can bio-recycle about seven pounds of food residuals in a month. If just 2,000 households raise three hens, it could divert 252 tons of waste from landfills annually.

  2. City Chickens are an organic exterminating service.

    Chickens love to eat protein-packed insects, which works out well because they can serve as the organic pest-cleanup crew in your garden and devour ticks on your property. They also love to eat many weeds, and serve as post-harvest garden bed gleaners, potentially making your work as a gardener very, very easy.  This, unlike the cats roaming the neighborhood utilizing manicured gardens as litter boxes and turning up plantings.

  3. City chickens as soil savers.

    The health of our food is tied directly to the health of our soil. And chickens perform multiple functions that can turn parts of our boring old yards into fertile garden patches. Their natural scratching and digging tendencies serve them well and can help you create top-notch garden beds. They are experts in mixing manure with mulch to create raised beds, which allow you to grow more produce in a smaller space and use less water, which is particularly useful to urban gardeners. They also act as gasoline-free, noise-free tillers, mixing the top layers of soil with compost or other mulches.

Backyard Chickens provide so many benefits

Got cockroaches, grubs, or any other pest you don’t want in your yard or garden? Chickens are great at controlling certain pests naturally- no need to put down nasty chemicals. And yes- chickens will even eat mice!

While chicken keeping may sound like a chore to some, many people see egg collection and putting out feed as a relaxing morning ritual. Also, just like cats and dogs, chickens have personalities and can be great companions.
An unintended consequence of backyard chicken keeping is meeting new people. You may attend a chicken class, participate in a chicken coop tour and get involved with local chicken groups in your area.

Ever hear of Oxytocin, the love hormone? It's a stress-lowering chemical in your body that's unleashed when you hug someone you love, or even pet your dog or cat. And anyone who has raised backyard chickens can probably contend the same effect holds true for hens. Believe it or not,  there are actually hens employed as therapy chickens!

*If you are considering housing chickens, we fully encourage it and would be glad to answer questions to help you but make sure you check with your local ordinance to verify the information we have posted since it may not be up to date or accurate. We post what we have to show that many cities do allow chickens and it is widely accepted.
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