Chicken Keeping: The Rules and Regulations

Photo by Debbie Chopas

Photo by Debbie Chopas

In the age of DIY everything, the popularity of small-scale homesteading, and a reflection on simpler pastimes, chicken-keeping has been gaining popularity over the past decade. Chickens are funny birds, and watching their fluffy waddles can make for a relaxing afternoon. If you’re thinking about getting poultry this spring, though, familiarize yourself with the Town regulations. Knowing the process will save you a lot of headache if your neighbors aren’t on board with your fowl friends.

First, know where to build your coop and how large to make the structure. According to Town Ordinance 91A - Animals, § 91A-42. PERMITS FOR FOWL, EQUINE, CLOVEN-HOOFED ANIMALS, ETC, before purchasing or adopting your chickens, you need an inspection by Animal Control, a division of the Matthews Police Department. Only one permit is required per household, no matter how many birds you have, and that permit must be renewed annually. Animal Control will check to make sure your new hobby won’t make your neighbors sick or unreasonably unhappy. Many of the guidelines are good to follow just because they will keep your birds healthy.

For your neighbors’ sake: Your coop and run must be at least twenty-five feet from the adjoining property line.
Build a castle: The chicken house must be at least 18-inches in height and well-ventilated. You can have up to 20 chickens per acre, but you must have a minimum of 4 square feet of floor space per chicken.
No piles of poop: The run must be well-draining, kept clean, and free from objectionable odors.
No free-ranging: Your chickens must always be confined within the run.
You’ve got to bag it up: The town is specific about handling poop. All droppings and body excretion shall be placed in a fly-proof container and double-bagged in plastic bags.

All in all, it’s a relatively easy process to get the permit, then it’s up to you to stay on top of following the rules. The reward of fresh eggs makes the small hassle at the front-end well worth it.