First-time essentials checklist with 46 tips for building and maintaining a happy home for your urban or suburban chickens. But before you buy the chickens, the coop, and all the accessories that come with owning a backyard flock, consider whether your city even allows them first and if you have enough good space in your yard.
To determine whether your backyard is big enough for a flock, a good starting point for standard-sized breeds is to figure at least four square feet per bird for the coop (where they lay eggs during the day and roost at night), and at least eight square feet per bird for the run (an enclosed space where they can wander during the day if you don’t want them to wander your whole yard). Smaller bantam breeds can live with a little less space. Of course, more square footage is always desirable, especially if your chickens are confined to the run all day. If the exterior walls of your coop and run are well within the setback requirements of your city, then you’re good to go.
Ordinances vary widely between cities, with some capping the amount of chickens you can keep, many banning roosters outright, and others requiring permits for any type of fowl. City code supersedes county code.
Backyard Chickens has an extensive online resource for both aspiring and established chicken keepers, offers a crowd-sourced listing of specific laws on the books pertaining to poultry.
Your best bet is to contact your local city hall to find out current regulations, as “urban homestead” laws are being considered in many cities.
Most cities also post their municipal codes online, so a good way to search for them is by Googling “(city name) poultry ordinance.”
If keeping chickens is not legal in your town consider asking them to change the ordinance, here’s how one Vicki went about creating change.
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