News and updates

BIG NEWS: County Zoning Code Rewrite

posted Mar 14, 2016, 7:15 AM by Bradley Kennedy

Backyard poultry in Prince George's County is handled through the zoning code, and right now, the county is undergoing a complete overhaul of the zoning code. Influencing this rewrite is our best shot at legalizing backyard hens.     

The first draft of the new zoning code has been published. Unfortunately, the new draft would allow poultry at single family homes, but only on very large lots. We need to let Prince George's County know that residents on smaller lots should be allowed poultry too.

Let them know what you think!

Here are instructions for providing comments on the zoning rewrite:
- Go to
- Create an account.
- Go to "Module 1: Use Regulations."
- Go to page 81.
- Click on the bubble at "13. Home housing for poultry."
- Comment about removing the 1/2 acre and 15-20 foot setback requirements.

Here is a sample comment to use:

The 1/2-acre minimum should be dropped, as it essentially maintains a ban on suburban residents owning backyard poultry. It is out of step with best practices in the hundreds of localities, from Baltimore and Anne Arundel County to New York and Chicago, that allow residents to own and benefit from backyard poultry on their small lots. If these areas can manage backyard poultry on small lots without an effective ban, there is no reason why our county can't, too.

Conditions i-iv do reflect best practices and should be kept and should be sufficient to mitigate any potential concerns about animal management or nuisances.

Condition v also needs to be amended, since a 15-20 foot setback from the property line is essentially a ban on raising poultry on small suburban plots.

Want to get more involved? We need your help! 

City of Mount Rainier supports legalizing hens

posted Feb 12, 2013, 9:07 AM by Bradley Kennedy

In November 2012, the Mount Rainier City Council passed a resolution of support for a county-wide legalization of hens. The law is set at the county level, so cities and towns cannot legalize chickens on their own - they must wait for the county to change the law. Only then can individual municipalities could decide for themselves whether to allow hens. 

Resolutions of support are also being considered in a few other cities and towns around the county. Email us if you would like to get involved passing something in your home town. 

Text of the resolution is below: 

A Resolution of the City of Mount Rainier supporting the legalization of the keeping of hens for
personal enjoyment in residential zones.

WHEREAS, the City recognizes that the Prince George's County (“County”) Zoning Code currently
prohibits residents from keeping hens on residentially-zoned lots; and,

WHEREAS, hens provide numerous benefits to their owners and communities, including personal
enjoyment, nutritious eggs, insect control, soil enrichment, food waste disposal, and agricultural
education; and,

WHEREAS, many jurisdictions across the country already allow backyard hens, including Baltimore,
Annapolis, Gaithersburg, and Howard County; Petersburg, Danville, Norfolk, Charlottesville, Herndon,
Warrenton, Roanoke, and Lynchburg (Virginia); Memphis; Atlanta; Augusta (Georgia); Baton
Rouge; Cleveland; Newark (New Jersey); Rochester (New York); Oakland (California); New Haven
(Connecticut); Seattle; Portland (Oregon); St. Louis; Chicago; and New York City, among many other
cities; and,

WHEREAS, studies have shown that such cities have seen few, if any, new new animal control,
public health, or property value problems related to backyard hens since adopting them into their
communities; and

WHEREAS, in September 2012, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
(“MNCPPC”) released a report entitled “Urban Agriculture: A Tool for Creating Economic
Development and Healthy Communities in Prince George’s County, MD,” in which MNCPPC called
for the amendment of the County Zoning Code to permit backyard hens to be kept on residential lots
smaller than half an acre; and,

WHEREAS, any nuisance concerns would be mitigated if the County were to prohibit roosters, which are not
quiet like hens and not necessary for hens' egg-laying or welfare, and if the County were to authorize
the keeping of hens in residentially-zoned lots in conjunction with reasonable sanitation, shelter, and
setback requirements, as recommended in the above-referenced MNCPPC report, provided that such
guidelines and setbacks do not have the effect of proscribing residents' ability to keep hens on small-
sized residential lots; and,

WHEREAS, legalization of backyard hens would allow for greater control of sanitary conditions and
potential nuisances than may be the case for hens currently kept illegally, including, in particular, the
registration of such hens with the Maryland Department of Agriculture for public health purposes
without fear of retaliation; and

WHEREAS, legalization of backyard hens would allow Animal Control resources to be focused on
instances of truly inhumane, unsanitary, or nuisance conditions, rather than on instances involving
animals that may pose no real problem, as is the case for dogs, cats, and other pets currently allowed in
residential zones;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City hereby urges the Prince George's County
District Council to amend the County Code to permit the keeping of backyard hens on residentially-
zoned lots, as recommended in the above-referenced MNCPPC report.

Meet hens and chicken experts in Riverdale, October 20!

posted Oct 2, 2012, 6:54 PM by Bradley Kennedy

Join us at the Sheridan Street Community Garden on Saturday, October 20 for a Poultry-Palooza! Yep, it's an all-day extravaganza celebrating the wonderful backyard hen. 

Schedule of events: 

9 am - Noon: Meet Dr. Dale Johnson, UMD Poultry Expert, who will be on site to answer all of your chicken questions. He'll be bringing along some feathered friends for you to meet, too! Participants will be able to feed and water the chickens, collect eggs, and move the pen around like they would in their own yard.  

Noon - 2pm: Join us for a potluck lunch! 

2 - 3:30 pm: Screening of Mad City Chickens, a film about keeping chickens in the city of Madison, Wisconsin. 

Many thanks to the University of Maryland Extension - Prince George's County for organizing this awesome event. 

Read more about the Poultry-Palooza in this Riverdale Patch article.

Prince George's Planning Department recommends legalizing backyard hens!

posted Oct 1, 2012, 6:58 PM by Bradley Kennedy

In a huge positive development for our movement, the Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission (MNCPPC) has published a report on urban agriculture in Prince George's County that recommends the county legalize backyard hen-keeping.  Much of the discussion echoes points that our group has been making.  Prince George's Hens even gets an explicit shout-out!

You can read the report online by downloading the PDF file here.  It's all fascinating reading, but the backyard hens discussion is at pp. 106-107 and 113.

This is particularly exciting because MNCPPC is responsible for administering the county's zoning laws.  Hence, the County Council is likely to give particular consideration to MNCPPC's recommendations when it looks at possible changes to those zoning laws.  

Stay tuned for more info on how you can show your support for this plan. In the meantime, please continue to share the petition with friends and neighbors. The bigger our coalition, the stronger our voice will be when we go to the county council!

Zoning Law Update

posted Feb 29, 2012, 9:55 AM by Bradley Kennedy   [ updated Feb 29, 2012, 9:55 AM ]

We've been doing some sleuthing on what, exactly, the current law is on chickens in Prince George's County. Turns out it's not as simple as we thought.  

Our current understanding is that chickens are forbidden on ALL residentially-zoned properties, regardless of size, with a few exceptions. The exceptions are: R-R, R-A, R-E, R-O-S, and O-S. R-R is allowed only if greater than 20,000 square feet. Chickens are allowed on all commercially zoned properties. 

As you can see, it's a bit complicated. We'll keep you updated as we learn more! 

Chickens in the news

posted Apr 5, 2011, 4:18 PM by Bradley Kennedy

Prince George's Hens at Rooting DC

posted Feb 9, 2011, 9:29 AM by Bradley Kennedy

We'll be collecting petition signatures jointly with the DC Chicken Campaign at Rooting DC on Saturday, Feb. 19. Rooting DC is a free all-day conference on urban gardening, expected to draw 500+ attendees this year. Check it out and be sure to register soon if you want to attend! Or sign up to volunteer an hour or two with us and we'll get you on the volunteer list.
Also, be sure to check out this wonderful story about how chickens bring together a diverse neighborhood in New York City.

Alexandria and Montgomery leading the way for chickens

posted Jan 10, 2011, 6:39 PM by Bradley Kennedy

Alexandrians are rallying in support of an ordinance change to allow hen-keeping within the city:

Article in the Alexandria Times, 10/6/2010

A court case in Montgomery County recently overturned a law that prohibits coops:

Article in the Gazette, 12/15/2010

Backyard hens at DC Green Festival this weekend!

posted Oct 20, 2010, 4:27 PM by Bradley Kennedy

Be sure to check out Patricia Foreman's featured talk, "Chickens: The Mascots of the Local Foods Movement" at the DC Green Festival this Saturday, October 23, at 1:30pm. Patricia is the author of several books on chicken keeping and the host of the Chicken Whisperer radio show, as well as a tireless advocate for backyard chicken keeping around the country. She'll be bringing along two of her own hens, Oprah Henfrey and Attila the Hen, for the audience to meet. Catch her in the bookshop before or after the event if you'd like an autographed copy of City Chicks!

DC Green Festival Schedule and info

Patricia Foreman's website

ABC News reports on backyard hens

posted Sep 28, 2010, 9:34 AM by Bradley Kennedy

Check out this great story and 2 TV clips from ABC last week: City Backyards Become Homes to Chickens and Their Eggs.

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