From the wide news coverage and booming backyard chicken magazine and book market, one might think that backyard chickens were accepted in all corners of the United States with open arms and open-minded hearts. While raising chickens is indeed legal in the United States as a whole, it is far from legal in many cities and towns across this great nation. People who don’t follow their local rules and regulations or who set up a backyard coop in a restrictive city face some pretty serious consequences.
Criminal Consequences in Virginia
Natural News brought the story public in March 2013: the Virginia government is prosecuting a Virginia Beach homeowner with criminal charges because she raises backyard chickens for organic eggs. The homeowner kept a healthy flock of chickens with full blessings from her neighbors, but local officials had a big problem with her backyard birds. They claim she broke zoning ordinances. Despite support from neighbors and an appellate fight, she was strictly warned that chickens are not allowed within the city. She now faces serious criminal charges. To read more, check out: http://www.naturalnews.com/039538_backyard_chickens_homeowners_government_intrusion.html.
A Woman’s Livelihood in Jeopardy in Connecticut
Amanda Kettle makes her living selling high-quality eggs and meat from her small farm in Connecticut. Her livelihood is in jeopardy because her 100-chicken-flock breaks town regulations limiting people to 2 chickens. Kettle farms on two acres, but town regulations require three acres per every two grazing animals. Kettle is required to relinquish many of her birds. A hearing is scheduled in the near future. To read more, check out: http://www.wfsb.com/story/22565868/pawcatuck-woman-forced-to-get-rid-of-chickens-some-of-them-missing.
Backyards, Not Barnyards in DC
Arlington is a hen-free county and they are adamant to keep it that way, even launching a new “Backyards, Not Barnyards” initiative strictly for the purpose of keeping back-yard chicken-keeping illegal within county lines. Why? The group sites the smell, waste, exposure to salmonella, and a likely increase in the rat and mouse population, just to name a few issues. The Arlington Egg Project works for the opposite goal, fighting for DC residents to have the right to raise backyard birds. As of now, raising chickens is still illegal in DC. To read more, check out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/01/arlington-chickens_n_3367708.html.
No matter where you live, carefully check with your local guidelines and conform to them carefully. Keep up to date on changes. There’s not much worse than legal troubles to detract from the beauty of raising backyard chickens.