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The locavore movement and similar trends in sustainable agriculture and health are renewing interest in backyard residential chicken coops. This Article analyzes some of the regulatory approaches cities and towns have taken to address backyard residential chicken coops. The Article focuses on how regulation can support and encourage the beneficial aspects of keeping backyard chickens while mitigating the potential harmful impact of excessive or irresponsibly managed residential chicken coops. In particular, the Article examines common trends in local regulation, like limits on the number and sex of birds allowed in each residential yard, setback and structural requirements, and animal welfare requirements, in the context of the corresponding local benefits. Additionally, the Article discusses creative and progressive developments in modern regulatory schemes, such as comprehensive planning and educational requirements.


Second prize winner in the 30th annual Smith-Babcock-Williams Student Writing Competition.

Recommended Citation

Chris Erchull, A Hen in the Parlor: Municipal Control and Enforcement of Residential Chicken Coops (2013) (unpublished manuscript) available at