Please note: I’m a veterinarian. Not a lawyer. This does not count as legal advice.
Many people are beginning to see the appeal of backyard chickens. Not only do these animals provide fresh eggs, but they can also make fun pets. However, owning a chicken is very different from owning a dog or a cat. Not only are they a bigger commitment than the average pet, but they aren’t necessarily allowed all over the United States.
While it’s easy to own chickens in rural areas, cities and residential areas often have restrictions on animal ownership.
Also, these laws and regulations are actually governed by cities rather than states, although most cities located within a state tend to have similar laws. Today, I’ve compiled a select list of American states and their laws and regulations regarding backyard chickens.
Backyard chickens in Vermont
Select cities in the state of Vermont (including Burlington, Bristol Town, and Hinesburg) allow the keeping of backyard chickens. However, many cities have a limit on the number of chickens allowed per household, and several cities do not allow roosters.
Certain cities, such as South Burlington, also require that owners keep a permit, which costs about $20 per year. You can find the backyard chicken ordinances of South Burlington, Vermont, located here.
Some chicken breeds that are well suited to life in Vermont include Barred Rocks and Araucanas.
You will, of course, need a heat lamp and a pen to keep the chickens cosy and sheltered from rough weather!
Backyard chickens in Texas
Laws on keeping chickens in Texas vary widely from city to city. Some cities, such as Dallas, outlaw the ownership of roosters, while Fort Worth does not allow chickens to be located within 50 feet of another residential building. Some cities require owners to have permits, while others do not.
While all of these different regulations can be overwhelming, detailed guides do exist for each city. This handy guide located at texas.gov also provides local ordinances on backyard fowl for major Texas cities.
It’s no secret that Texas is a hot state, so a couple of chicken breeds to consider raising there include Rhode Island Reds and Barred Plymouth Rocks.
Of course, it’s always important to provide shady shelter and plenty of water during those hot summer days!
Backyard chickens in Maine
If you want to raise chickens outside of an agricultural zone, you’ll have to comply with a few regulations in Maine. For example, one law that extends throughout the state of Maine requires that you must purchase at least six chickens at once, to ensure a well socialized and healthy flock.
Cities like Rockland, Belfast, and Portland allow people to keep chickens outside of agricultural zones, although many have limits on the number of chickens you can own. If you live in a smaller city, it’s a good idea to stop by your town hall to make sure you’re complying with all regulations.
Maine is known for its harsh, cold winters, so you’ll need hardy chicken breeds that can survive the cold! Two chicken breeds that can tough out the cold weather of Maine are Buff Orpingtons and Welsummers.
Still, you’ll need to ensure your coop offers protection from any wind, rain, and snow.
Backyard chickens in Idaho
Many cities in Idaho allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards. Similar to many other states, however, they often limit the number of chickens to six. Many cities, such as Boise and Idaho Falls, also do not permit residents to keep roosters.
As always, it’s vital for you to check your local city ordinances to ensure you are complying with any regulations.
For example, here is the ordinance regarding backyard chicken keeping in Boise.
Idaho is known for its harsh winters, so you should keep hardy, weather-resistant breeds such as Rhode Island Reds or Australorps.
You also need to keep your chicken coop well-ventilated, particularly in the winter, to ensure the air is dry and warm.
Backyard chickens in Iowa
Lots of cities in Iowa allow residents to keep backyard chickens, including Des Moines, Huxley, and Johnston. However, cities like Johnston and West Des Moines require the property to be a certain size in order to keep chickens.
Some cities also require permits, which can cost $600 in some cases. Sadly, Ankeny, Waukee, and Altoona, among other cities, do not allow residents to keep chickens.
This helpful article by the Animal Rescue League of Iowa includes a handy guide on keeping chickens, as well as ordinances for various cities.
Iowa is known for hot summers and cold winters, so you’ll need a breed of chicken that can tolerate all sorts of weather. Welsummers and Rhode Island Reds are both excellent choices for the extreme temperatures of Iowa.
Backyard chickens in South Carolina
South Carolina is filled with cities that allow residents to keep backyard chickens. Columbia and Spartanburg, for example, both allow the keeping of backyard chickens. Here you can find the requirements for keeping chickens in Columbia, South Carolina.
If you live in any other city in South Carolina, do your research on local ordinances before making any move to bring chickens to your backyard!
South Carolina is hot and humid, so you’ll need chickens that can tolerate the heat. A couple of good breeds to consider for this climate include Orpingtons and Barred Plymouth Rocks.
Of course, you’ll need to ensure that your chickens have a cool, shady shelter in those hot summer months.
Backyard chickens in Arkansas
In Arkansas, cities like Little Rock, Benton, and Rogers allow residents to keep chickens in residential areas. Most cities have restrictions on the number of chickens allowed, typically ranging from four to six, and roosters are often prohibited.
There are also regulations on coop conditions to ensure the health and safety of the chickens. This website has the official ordinances regarding chicken keeping in Rogers, Arkansas, but laws will of course vary from city to city.
Arkansas may have mild winters, but this state is known for its hot summers. You’ll need a heat resistant chicken breed if you want to keep chickens in this state!
Two chicken breeds that would do well in Arkansas are Andalsusians and White Leghorns.
Backyard chickens in New Hampshire
There are lots of cities in New Hampshire that have relatively lax laws about keeping chickens. Farmington, Pittsfield, and Rochester, for example, all allow residents to keep roosters, do not require a permit, and have no maximum number of hens.
Other cities, however, such as Manchester and Dover, are subject to stricter regulations. Here you can find chicken keeping ordinances for the city of Rochester.
New Hampshire is known for its cold winters, so it’s important to keep breeds that can tolerate cooler temperatures. Some good chicken breeds to consider for this climate include Australorps and Plymouth Rocks.
Backyard chickens in Oregon
Many cities in Oregon do allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards, but restrictions are a bit tighter than some other states.
While many cities in other states allow residents to keep up to six chickens, a lot of Oregon cities only allow between one and four chickens. This website explains the specific requirements for keeping chickens in the city of Portland.
Oregon is notorious for its harsh, cold winters, so you’ll need a cold-hardy breed to tolerate those freezing temperatures.
Consider purchasing breeds such as New Hampshire Reds or Delawares. Make sure to keep the coop well insulated against the wind and cold, along with good ventilation to keep the air dry.
Backyard chickens in Oklahoma
Being a very agricultural state, many cities in Oklahoma have rather relaxed laws regarding chicken keeping. Cities like Bethany, Hugo, and Oklahoma city have no limits on the amount of chickens that residents can keep, and many cities also allow people to keep roosters.
Here is a handy reference that illustrates the chicken keeping ordinances for Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma has very hot summers, meaning that it’s important to choose breeds that can tolerate the heat.
Rhode Island Reds and Orpingtons are excellent choices for the Oklahoma climate. It’s also important to ensure you have plenty of cool, shady spots for your chickens to seek relief from the heat.
Backyard chickens in Wisconsin
Most cities in Wisconsin allow residents to keep chickens, often allowing up to four chickens per property.
Most cities also require you to have a permit in order to keep chickens. Here are the official ordinances for keeping chickens in the city of Milwaukee.
Unfortunately, some cities, like Appleton, Manitowoc, and Marinette prohibit residents from keeping chickens.
Before purchasing chickens to keep in Wisconsin, you should keep in mind the cold winter climate. Barred Rocks and Australorps are two cold-hardy breeds that you might consider. While these chickens do better in the cold than other breeds, they’re not invincible!
Make sure their coop is well insulated against harsh cold and wind.
Backyard chickens in Colorado
Many cities in Colorado have relaxed laws regarding the keeping of chickens. For example, Denver, Louisville, and Loveland have no limit to the number of birds you can keep.
However, some cities, including, Dacono, Glenwood, and Rifle, do not allow residents to keep chickens. Here are the official ordinances regarding chicken keeping for Denver, Colorado.
Colorado has hot summers and cold winters, so you should consider purchasing a breed of chicken that can withstand extreme temperatures.
You might want to bring home a Brahma or a Rhode Island Red, as these two breeds are both well-suited to hot and cold temperatures.
Backyard chickens in Washington
Most cities and counties in Washington allow residents to keep chickens, although many cities, such as Renton, Lake Forest Park, and Snohomish have a number of restrictions based on how much land you own.
Seattle allows up to eight birds without a permit, but you can obtain more with special permission. Here are the specific regulations for keeping chickens in the city of Seattle.
Washington has a pleasantly mild climate year-round, so you don’t have to consider extreme temperatures too much when choosing a chicken breed.
If you’ve never owned chickens before, though, you’ll want to choose a breed that is docile and easy to care for, such as the Plymouth Rock or Rhode Island Red.
Backyard chickens in Missouri
Most cities in Missouri not only allow residents to keep chickens but don’t even have a maximum number of chickens you can own. Those that do have limits often have much higher upper limits, such as the city of Nevada, which allows up to 25 birds.
While the regulations vary from city to city, the code of ordinance regarding chicken keeping in the city of Branson can be found here.
Missouri’s summers are long and incredibly hot. This means that any breed you bring home should be able to withstand a good amount of heat.
Andalusians and White Leghorns are two chicken breeds that are well protected against hot weather.
Backyard chickens in Minnesota
Most cities in Minnesota allow residents to keep chickens but have a number of restrictions that vary from city to city. These limits often range between three and six birds, or depend on the amount of property you own.
Interestingly, some cities also require the consent of neighbours in order to keep chickens. Here is a more detailed guide illustrating how to keep chickens in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
While Minnesota may have pleasantly mild summers, its winters are long and cold. Consider purchasing chicken breeds like Orpingtons or Australorps, which are known to withstand cold temperatures.
For good measure, however, you should keep your coop well-ventilated, and make sure it’s protected against wind and snow.
Backyard chickens in Michigan
Unfortunately, many cities in Michigan, such as Birmingham, Detroit, and Madison Heights prohibit residents from keeping chickens. However, other cities such as Flint, Fremont, and Redford do allow chickens. Here is a helpful guide for keeping chickens in the city of Flint, Michigan.
Michigan has a relatively moderate climate, with warm summers and cool winters that aren’t too extreme.
Because of this, you don’t need to worry too much about choosing a chicken breed that can withstand extreme temperatures. However, some good chicken breeds for beginners include the Rhode Island Red and the Plymouth Rock.
Backyard chickens in Ohio
It is legal to keep chickens in many Ohio cities such as Delaware, Hudson, and Montgomery, although Carlisle, Franklin County, and Lakewood have all prohibited the keeping of chickens.
Fortunately, most Ohio cities do not have a limit on the number of chickens you can keep. Here is a simple guide to the ordinance of chicken keeping in New Castle Delaware.
Ohio has hot summers and cold winters. While the temperatures are not typically extreme, you should still choose chicken breeds that can withstand a fair amount of heat and cold.
Consider bringing home a chicken breed like Rhode Island Reds or Orpingtons.
Backyard chickens in Florida
Some Florida counties and cities allow residents to keep chickens, such as Orange County, Orlando, and Jacksonville. However, many cities like Miami, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale do not.
If you’re interested in learning more, here is a guide to the code of ordinances for Jacksonville, Florida.
Florida is one of the hottest, most humid states in America. If you want to keep chickens in Florida, you’re going to need breeds that are resistant to extreme heat.
Welsummers and Orpingtons are both good chicken breeds for the relentless heat of Florida.
Backyard chickens in Austin
The city of Austin has very specific regulations for keeping backyard chickens. However, it is far laxer than many other cities. In fact, some chicken owners consider it a dream come true! Firstly, Austin does not have a limit on the number of chickens you can keep. Second, unlike many cities, Austin also allows residents to own roosters.
Finally, you do not need a permit to raise chickens in your backyard. If you want to learn more, here is the full municipal code regarding the keeping of chickens.
Texas is, as we all know, notorious for its hot climate, and the city of Austin is no exception. This means you should select a chicken breed that can withstand long, hot summers. Some good chicken breeds to keep in Austin include Welsummers and White Leghorns.
Backyard chickens in Mississippi
In Mississippi, the cities of Columbus, Flowood, Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Rankin County all allow chickens and don’t even have a maximum limit for hens allowed. Many of these cities also do not require residents to have a permit.
Here are the official ordinances for keeping chickens in Jackson, Mississippi. As always, make sure to look up the local regulations for your city or town if you are unsure!
Mississippi has long, hot summers with lots of rainfall. It’s important to purchase chicken breeds that can withstand extreme heat, such as Rhode Island Reds or Barred Plymouth Rocks.
Of course, you should also ensure your chicken coop is well protected from the elements, so your chickens have somewhere to shelter during rainy weather.