Can I Raise Chickens in My Backyard? Understanding Local Zoning Laws

Mother hen sitting outside with her baby chicks

Raising chickens has become one of the most fast-growing animal care trends today, and for good reason. Not only can chickens be companionable pets, but they also provide a tasty benefit: fresh eggs! They’re also pretty good natural pest control agents — chickens have been used to kill bugs for centuries, and cities like Portland aren’t without their invasive critters.

These days, you don’t have to live on a farm or in a rural area to legally raise chickens. However, it is important to brush up on local regulations before adopting chicks and building your coop.

How to Find Out If Raising Chickens Is Legal in Your Area

Luckily, it’s not too difficult to find out whether raising a flock of chickens in your backyard is allowed where you live. Let’s take a look at a few of the simple steps you should take before getting started on your flock.

1. Check with Local Government Institutions

Multiple backyard chickens walking into and around chicken coop

In some cases, you may be able to find out whether raising chickens in private residences is legal in your area through a quick online search.

For example, Portland’s government website offers some quick information on what kinds of livestock you can keep and how many of each. Here, you’ll find that you can keep up to six chickens in Portland, depending on square footage, but no roosters.

If you have trouble finding the information you need on the internet, reach out to your local animal control rep, planning board, or county clerk.

2. Have Important Questions Ready to Ask

Once you have the attention of a local government rep with the information you need, it’s important to come prepared with specific questions that will leave no stone unturned. Make sure to ask about important details, like how many chickens you can own, whether both roosters and hens are allowed, what kind of permit is needed (if any), and whether you need neighbor permission to get started.

3. Keep Copies of Local Ordinances for Your Records

Multiple chickens looking into camera lens

Once you’ve determined that you can legally raise a flock of chickens on your property, make sure you can provide proof to anyone you might ask with printed and organized records of local ordinances. This might come in handy if confused or concerned neighbors come knocking!

If you're a resident of Portland, you might want print out the city's comprehensive guide to keeping chickens and have it ready if your neighbors have any questions. If nothing else, it will serve as a great reference for you!

4. Communicate with Neighbors

Speaking of neighbors, it’s important to communicate your plans to them, whether or not you’re required to do so. After all, you would want them to do the same!

Growing Your Feathered Family

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Raising backyard chickens is legal in most areas, but be sure to contact your local government reps to make sure you’re in the clear (and get the okay from your neighbors if possible) before building your coop.

Ready to get started with your backyard flock? Find all the fowl care you’ll need and more at Pets on Broadway or shop our farm supplies directly by clicking here