Policies & City Chickens

In Chicago, keeping chickens as pets and for eggs (humanely, cleanly, appropriately) is not prohibited in residential districts. There is no specific prohibition on livestock in residential areas, but slaughtering, nuisance, sanitation, and humane treatment and housing ordinances apply.

See section 7-12-100 of the city code.

AND see our growing collection of info about IL Chicken Policies and people organizing for pro-chicken policies where they live.

In addition, in Chicago:

  • There's no limit on number of chickens per household, nor is there a ban on roosters.
  • Keeping ANY animal for the purpose of slaughtering for food is prohibited. Permitted slaughtering facilities in Chicago (like "Live Poultry" establishments) are monitored by the state under biosecurity protocols.
  • Excessive animal noise like crowing (and barking) is prohibited.
Related state law addresses sale of eggs and poultry meat processing (also see our page End of Life.)

We want to preserve the option of keeping chickens (and other livestock) in Chicagoland backyards
To that end we network with each other, provide backyard chicken keepers with advice and guidance, offer workshops and coop tours to promote best practices, and correct misinformation.

Municipal Codes in Chicago and Illinois

Municipal, county, and state codes are increasingly online and searchable by keyword. Search keywords to find related topics and consider the reasons for these policies where you live.  Try: chicken, rooster, poultry, fowl, slaughter, manure, compost, rats, coop, stable, nuisance, noise, sanitation, eggs.

Try your town or village website, or links below:



Other Examples & Information

These and the examples that follow provide models and guidance; some details may have changed since they were posted.

In January 2008, we drafted language for an ordinance in Chicago to reserve in case of future need. (See the attachment below.)

A Chicken Ordinance in Chicago could include elements common to other cities’ regulations.
For example:

  • A limit on total number of chickens allowed per residence or standard lot (but at least 2 since they are social animals), and/or
  • A maximum number of chickens allowed without a permit or license, and/or
  • A requirement to complete a training/workshop on best practice.
  • No roosters allowed, or no crowing that neighbors identify as a nuisance.
  • Coop design/build recommendations. For example: gauge of wire mesh, birds enclosed in pen, fenced yard for daytime foraging, minimum distance from nearest neighboring residence.
  • Reference to existing nuisance, sanitation, humane housing and treatment, and anti-slaughtering laws that apply in all situations (not just backyard chickens).

From the NYC health code and the Madison WI municipal code (the latter directly addresses rats):

  • New York City states no number limit or coop requirements but location must be 25 feet from nearest adjacent property's residence, and all property occupants must approve.
  • Madison limits total birds to 4, in a coop, also 25 feet from neighbor's residence (they were recently looking at increasing the limit).
  • Both NYC and Madison require a permit. (See www.madcitychickens.com for more information)
  • Other cities require a permit over a maximum number of hens (usually 4-6 birds.)
Martha Boyd,
Feb 28, 2014, 3:15 PM
Martha Boyd,
Apr 24, 2015, 10:03 PM
Martha Boyd,
Sep 20, 2012, 9:36 AM