Changing Local Backyard Chicken Ordinances

Spring is a time when many people wish to start a backyard flock, but their local laws prevent them from doing so. The good news is, lots of people have been successful in changing their local laws and ordinances. Here are some tips for changing the law where you live:

1. Find out exactly what your local ordinances are and make sure they are sufficiently specific. Some ordinances may be vague enough for you take advantage of, for example one that prohibits “barn animals,” but doesn’t specify poultry. However, some ordinances state that anything not addressed in the ordinance is assumed prohibited. Get your information directly from the city, in writing.

2. Ask around and check Facebook for groups of people in your town who are already busy trying to change your local laws. If not, invite others from your area and create a support group. There is strength in numbers and the more people sign on, the better your chances of success will be. Environmental or hunger organizations can help by writing a letter in support of backyard chicken keeping that you may present to your local government.

3. Contact one of the chicken-friendly towns near you. Ask about their policies, how it works and if it has been successful. Then draft an ordinance that is appropriate to your town. You can use the ordinance of a neighboring town as a template.

4. Assemble an informational packet, based on the information you get. State facts, cite your references, include maps charts, photographs and letters of support.

5. Once you’ve got all the information you need, contact your city council and request the issue be placed on the council meeting agenda. Find out how your council meetings work and when public comments are allowed. Learn the protocol for submitting an item for discussion with your public officials.

6. Expect for this to take months. Changing city ordinances is neither easy nor quick, but it can be done. Stay polite, friendly, firm and persistent. This will help win your council’s favor and show them you are serious.

We wish you the best of success in making a difference and helping your community experience the wonderful hobby of chicken keeping. When you do get your flock started, consider signing up for Henny+Roo, the first and only subscription box for chicken keepers, sending treats, supplies and gifts monthly. Learn more at: hennyandroo.com

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