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Illegal Fowl: A Survey of Municipal Laws Relating to Backyard Poultry and a Model Ordinance for Regulating City Chickens

September 2012

Citation: 42 ELR 10888

Issue: 9

Author: Jaime Bouvier

As the movement toward keeping backyard chickens continues to grow, many cities are facing the decision of whether to allow residents to keep chickens and, if so, how to effectively regulate the practice. A survey of municipal ordinances in the top 100 most populous cities in the United States that concern keeping and raising chickens offers lessons that may be applied to designing a model ordinance. This survey reveals that chickens are, perhaps surprisingly, legal in the vast majority of large cities. The survey also identifies regulatory norms and some effective and less effective ways to regulate the keeping of chickens. A proposed model ordinance, based on the background information and survey results, could be adopted by a city or easily modified to fit a city’s unique needs.

Jaime Bouvier is Visiting Legal Writing Professor, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

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