how to keep chickens in a "no chicken zone." : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We live in a small community on the edge of a large city; I'm told that in the past, many people here kept chickens, a goat or two, even a horse. At present, however, there are laws against keeping any such critters. I would very much like to keep a few (4-6) chickens, for eggs and meat for ourselves, and would appreciate any suggestions from others who have succeeded in raising "secret" poultry. Would a certain breed, or cross, be best ? If we don't have a rooster will they still be noisy? Would any particular type of housing be best? We have a very large yard which is well fenced and private. The articles in "Countryside" on poultry raising have taught me a lot, but don't seem to address this issue. Many thanks.

-- Marilee Thome (, August 28, 1999


Before I moved onto my homestead I lived in a medium large California city. Complete with all the ordinances and restrictions. I kept not only chickens, but also sheep on the city property. The real key to keeping livestock in town is to take care of your neighbors. Befriend them, talk to them, offer them some treats, help them when they need it. Also important is to keep your critters clean and never allow anything to smell. That is what I did and it worked very well. Cost me a few cackleberries and a few extra guests at a barbeque, but I had no problems.

-- Nick (, August 29, 1999.

i agree with the answer above but would add talk to neighbors before hand to make sure they dont mind. we have 2 goats 6 rabbits and 3 chickens in our backyard and great neighbors who even put the goats back once when we were gone for a little while. we also live now in a city near san francisco.

-- kathy hart (, August 29, 1999.

If you are only keeping a few chickens, can you pass them off as "pets" in any way? You know lots of people keep pet pigs and it is accepted in a different way than if you said you were "raising hogs". There are plenty of people who keep exotic pets other than the typical cat & dog. If people can have snakes, monkeys, and all kinds of other weird things, why not pet chickens?

-- Kathy Miller (, October 17, 1999.

Since you are interested in meat as well as eggs you might start out with about 3 hutches of "pet" rabbits over your compost pile. Protect carefully from neighborhood dogs. Don't make a fuss when you have bunnies, so no one makes a fuss when all the bunnies disappear. After accepting your pets the neighbors may be more receptive to fowl because you will have shown odor and noise control with the rabbits. Khaki Campbell and Indian Runner ducks will outlay most chickens, never ever crow, and might be easier to pass off as pets. Watch the manure odor from any fowl.

-- Kendy Sawyer (, October 17, 1999.

All of the above answers were true for me in some way or another also. I live on a double city lot (approximately 75 feet by 150 feet) in Everett, Washington, a town of 30,000 located about 30 miles from Seattle. Everett also has "no farm animal" ordinances. Before I invested in fencing and housing, I checked with animal control. They said that as long as I didn't have complaints from the neighbors, and as long as all the animals were licensed, there shouldn't be any problem. Licensing fees are $5.00 per goat, and $1 per chicken if I have over 6 chickens.

I then went to all my neighbors and asked them what they thought about me having two miniature goats (Nigerian dwarfs). They thought they would be cute. I assured them that the noise would be minimal and there would be no smell because I would not have a buck. We have a number of small children in the neighborhood, and my yard became the neighborhood petting farm. The spring kids were especially popular with the children. This was fine with me and good for neighbor relations. People kept saying I should charge admission, but I felt that not being hassled was ample compensation. Besides, I liked the children.

When I got chickens, I again checked with animal control. I didn't check with the neighbors this time, because I planned to have only hens. Hens are usually only noisy when they lay an egg. I got nine hens, and when they started laying in the spring, I was swamped with eggs. It was a happy coincidence that as the morning noise level increased (that's when they lay), so did the egg production, and I was able to distribute about two dozen eggs per week to my long- suffering neighbors. I spoke with animal control a couple of months ago, and so far, they have had a number of questions as to whether I could keep those animals in the city (the answer was yes), but no actual complaints.

I also sold almost enough eggs at $1.25 per dozen to keep my hens and goats fed. People have been very cooperative about bringing me egg cartons, too. I've never had to buy any.

When I bought a dozen meat chickens and raised them in a chicken tractor, there was no comment. When I slaughtered them, using a homemade killing cone, there was also no comment, but everyone thought I had be best chicken around at the barbeque.

I hatched out some chicks for replacements, and unfortunately, a large number of them were cockerels. The ones that started crowing while they were still small and scrawny, I gave to the feed store. The later ones, I put in the freezer as soon as they started crowing. I might have tried caponizing them if I had been able to tell which were the roosters a little earlier on.

This has been a great experience for me. We have lived in the house for four and a half years, and since I got the animals one and a half years ago, we have come to know many more of our neighbors on a very positive basis. I just don't give the grumpy ones anything to complain about, and they leave me alone. I have been extremely careful to keep the place tidy and inoffensive with regard to sight, smell and sound. Feel free to write. I always like to hear about the experiences of others.

-- Laura Jensen (, December 07, 1999.

Stay away from roosters! They will be heard several hundred yards away! You don't need one unless you want or need fertile eggs. Hens are pretty quiet, only "bragging" when they've laid an egg, and then not that loudly. I have a friend who lives in a very urban area - his houselot is probably 1/4 acre, and he has 6 hens in an attractive little henhouse with no problem. He occassionally gives a few eggs to the closest neighbors, and everyone seems happy. My personal advice is not to tell the Code Enforcement Officer. The zoning rules are not his doing, but he HAS to enforce them, whether they make sense or not, otherwise risk the fury of a neighbor who might get a hair across their buns. If your neighbors aren't ugly folks, I see no problem.

-- Brad Traver (, December 24, 1999.

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