Livestock in Urban Environments
Urban farmers interested in raising livestock face challenges unique to their city environments. Space limitations restrict the number and type of livestock that can be kept. Close proximity to neighbors requires that farmers take care not to create nuisance conditions, such as excessive noise or foul odors, which might cause a disturbance. Lack of accessible feed, supplies, processing facilities and restrictive municipal ordinances also constrain the urban farmers’ ability to keep livestock. The unique qualities of cities should be taken into careful consideration when choosing which livestock and breeds to keep.
Good places to start learning about raising livestock in urban areas are general books and publications (see Factsheet #50, General Resources). The Essential Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal (Penguin Books, 2011) and Your Farm in the City: An Urban-Dweller’s Guide to Growing Food and Raising Animals by Lisa Taylor and the Gardeners of Seattle Tilth (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2011) both feature overviews of raising urban livestock.
Urban Livestock Resources
There are general resources featuring information about raising urban livestock available, such as:
- Urban Farm Online (http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-livestock/), an on-line magazine featuring information on all aspects of urban farming, including beekeeping, chicken keeping, goat keeping and rabbit keeping;
- City Farmer (http://www.cityfarmer.org/sublivestock.html), published by Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture, though not updated regularly, features several good resources about raising urban livestock; and
YouTube also features several instructional and demonstration videos about raising urban livestock, such as:
- How to Raise Urban Chickens (Ioby Channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/iobyvideos)
- Urban Goats (Farm Raised Channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/farmraisedchannel)
- Raising Rabbits (New Survivalist Channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/thenewsurvivalist).
Local farming organizations will often be able to provide information about raising urban livestock, as well as recommend breeders and suppliers, and may host relevant classes or workshops. See the Appendix for organization information.
Each municipality regulates the keeping of livestock differently, and may also regulate activities related to raising urban livestock, such as building coops and housing structures, processing, and selling. Below are examples of some city ordinances relating to urban livestock in New York State. These are not all inclusive, and any farmer interested in raising urban livestock should contact his or her city clerk, local farming organization, Cooperative Extension or other source to clarify any and all relevant regulations and exceptions. To advocate for a change in your city’s ordinances, some exemplary cities that support urban livestock are Austin, TX, Seattle, WA, Chicago, IL and Somerville, MA.
The Urban Agricultural Legal Resource Library, a project of the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), includes general information about how food-producing animals might feature in city law, as well as suggestions for finding more information, http://www.urbanaglaw.org/. Additionally, many city ordinances are available through sites such as Municode, http://www.municode.com/, General Code http://www.generalcode.com/ecode360/NY, and Backyard Chickens http://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/3/Laws.
Examples of New York State City Ordinances
Chapter 115, Article VIII, § 115-31: No person shall keep, harbor, or shelter any farm animal or fowl within the City of Albany. For purposes of this article, farm animal or fowl shall include cows, cattle, horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, or other animals or fowl usually known as “farm animals or fowl,” but not solely limited to the aforementioned and not including common household pets. Exemptions with permission from the City Clerk include: not-for-profit organizations that prove farm animals are being kept for educational purposes and after finding that the animals will be kept in such a manner as to not disturb the health and safety of the surrounding neighborhood; and commercial businesses that proove that the appropriate zoning requirements have been met for the district in which the business is located.
Chapter 341, Article II, § 341-11.1: It shall be lawful for any person to keep, permit or allow any domesticated chicken hens in any residential district under the following terms and conditions and after having received a license to keep said chicken hens from the City Clerk as prescribed herein under the following terms and conditions:
A. No more than five chicken hens shall be allowed for each single-family dwelling or multifamily dwelling.
B. No chicken hens shall be allowed in multifamily complexes, including duplexes, without the expressed written consent of the owner of the building and all tenants residing in the building other than the applicant.
C. No chicken hens shall be allowed without the express written consent of all residents residing on property adjacent to that of the applicant.
D. No roosters shall be allowed.
E. Chicken hens are to be restricted to the rear or backyard of any lot in a residential zoning district or the rear or backyard of a residential use in all other zoning districts.
F. Chicken hens shall be kept as pets and for personal use only; no person shall sell eggs or meat or engage in chicken breeding or fertilizer production for commercial purposes.
G. Persons wishing to keep chicken hens within the City of Buffalo must obtain a license from the Office of the City Clerk after payment of an annual fee of $25, and after inspection and approval of the coop and cage that chicken hens are to be kept in by an Animal Control Officer, pursuant to § 341-11.4 hereof.
Chapter 511, Article XXII, § 511-115: It shall be unlawful for any person to stable, keep as a pet, or permit to remain any cloven-footed or hoofed animal, such as, but not limited to, cows, goats, horses, pigs, or sheep, on any lot or premises within a residential district or business district as classified under Chapter 511 of the Code of the City of Buffalo, and in no case shall such animal be kept on the same lot or premises with a dwelling.
|Cortland||Chapter 74, Article I, § 74-1: It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to own, harbor, keep, raise or maintain any pigeons, fowl, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, swine or other domestic or wild animals except cats and dogs, within the limits of the City of Cortland without first obtaining a permit from the Common Council of the City of Cortland and paying any applicable fees.|
Chapter 6, Article I, § 6-1: It shall be unlawful for any person to keep or cause to be kept any live fowl, such as, but not limited to, chickens, ducks and geese, within the corporate limits of the city. Chapter, Article II, § 6-2. It shall be unlawful for any person to keep or cause to be kept any farm animal, such as, but not limited to, cows, horses and pigs, within the corporate limits of the city.
Chapter 77, Article I, § 77-2: No person shall keep or harbor any bees in the city. Any beehive used or occupied by bees is hereby declared to be a nuisance; and it shall be unlawful to keep or maintain any such hive in the city.
Chapter 77, Article I, § 77-3: No person shall keep or harbor any chickens, ducks, geese or other domesticated fowl in the city except in the AR, Agricultural Residential Use Districts and F Industrial Use Districts and not closer than 200 feet to any house, except the owner’s, apartment building, church, school, hospital or any other building customarily used or occupied by human beings, such as but not limited to stores, hotels, restaurants, offices and factories.
Chapter 77, Article I, § 77-4: No person shall keep or harbor any cattle, horses and sheep in the city except as follows: Cattle, horses and sheep may be kept in the city in the AR, Agricultural District if maintained not closer than 100 feet to any house except the owner’s, apartment building, church, school, hospital or any other building customarily used or occupied by human beings, such as but not limited to stores, hotels, restaurants, offices and factories.
B. Every person maintaining animals as permitted in Subsection A of this section shall keep clean and sanitary every shed, barn or structure housing said animals. Every such shed, barn or structure shall be thoroughly cleaned at least once every 24 hours and refuse from the same shall, when collected, be kept in airtight containers until disposed of in accordance with any other provisions of this Code.
Chapter 77, Article I, § 77-5: No person shall keep or harbor any goats, pigs or swine in the city; and it shall be unlawful to keep or maintain any goat pen, pig sty or other building for the housing of goats, pigs or swine.
Chapter 164, Article I, § 164-2: A. Prohibition. No person shall keep, pasture, breed, raise, harbor, stable or maintain any bees, poultry, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese or any other fowl or reptiles or any swine, horses, cows, mules, sheep, goats or any other animals, except domesticated pets, within the City. Exception. This section shall not apply to any educational, scientific or research institution maintaining, with adequate safeguards as to public health, safety, comfort and convenience, any animals or other creatures for scientific, medical or other research purposes.
Chapter 164, Article I, § 164-3: No person shall allow any cattle, horses, goats, sheep, swine or poultry to be at large within the City.
|New Rochelle||Chapter 89, Article VI, § 89-16: No person shall keep, permit, harbor or raise farm animals including but limited to those of the equine swine, bovine, ruminant and avian species, on a parcel of land comprising less than two acres with not less than one acre of land for each such animal and not less than 50 feet from the property line of an adjacent residential property within the jurisdiction of the City of New Rochelle.|
|New York City||Health Code § 161.19 Keeping of live poultry and rabbits. (a) No person shall keep a live rooster, duck, goose or turkey in a built-up portion of the City. (b) A person who holds a permit to keep for sale or sell live rabbits or poultry shall keep them in coops and runways and prevent them from being at large. Coops shall be whitewashed or otherwise treated in a manner approved by the Department at least once a year and at such other times as the Department may direct in order to keep them clean. Coops, runways and the surrounding area shall be kept clean. Health Code § 161.21 Yarding of horses, cattle, swine, sheep and goats. The yard in which horses, cattle, swine, sheep or goats are kept shall be fenced so as to prevent the animals from roaming. The yard shall be properly graded and drained and kept clean.|
Chapter 57, § 57-2: From and after the enactment of this ordinance, it shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to harbor or maintain any animals or livestock within the limits of the City of North Tonawanda, New York. This section shall not be construed to apply to slaughterhouses and abattoirs that are covered in the provisions of other city ordinances.
Chapter 57, § 57-3: From and after the enactment of this ordinance, it shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to harbor or maintain any live rabbits or poultry in any yard, area, cellar, coop, building premises, public market or other public place in the City of North Tonawanda, New York, who does not possess an unrevoked permit from the City Clerk/Treasurer, as prescribed herein under the following terms and conditions.
A. Exceptions for chicken hens.
1) No more than five chicken hens shall be allowed for each single-family dwelling or multifamily dwelling.
2) No chicken hens shall be allowed in multi-family complexes, including duplexes, without the express written consent of the owner of the building and all tenants residing therein other than the applicant.
3) No chicken hens shall be allowed without the express written consent of all residents residing on property adjacent to that of the applicant.
4) No roosters shall be allowed.
5) Chicken hens are to be restricted to the rear or backyard of any lot in a residential zoning district or the rear or backyard of a residential use in all other zoning districts.
6) Chicken hens shall be kept as pets and for personal use only; no person shall sell eggs or meat or engage in breeding or fertilizer production for commercial purposes.
7) Persons wishing to keep chicken hens within the City of North Tonawanda must obtain a permit from the office of the City Clerk/Treasurer after payment of an annual fee of $25, and after inspection and approval of the coop and cage that chicken hens are to be kept in by the Building Inspector.
Chapter 30, Article I, § 30-12: No person, firm, association or corporation shall bring into, keep, hold, offer for sale, sell or kill or allow to be kept, held, offered for sale, sold or killed in the City of Rochester any live animals, except animals for show or exposition purposes only, and except white mice, white rats, cats, dogs, horses, mules and donkeys.
No person, firm, association or corporation shall bring into, keep, hold, offer for sale, sell or kill or allow to be kept, held, offered for sale, sold or killed in the City of Rochester any chickens, geese, ducks, doves or pigeons, turkeys or other animals or fowls, except persons holding a poulterer’s license, without having a license therefor issued by the Chief of Police and under and pursuant to the provisions of this chapter; provided, however, that no license shall be required for any animals or fowls in transit through the said City; and provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall apply to slaughterhouses, cattle yards or any place where any cattle or swine are killed or dressed; and provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall apply to any cattle, sheep or swine brought into the City and directly transported to a slaughterhouse or cattle yard.
Chapter 30, Article I, § 30-13: The raising of fowl for the purpose of selling the same is hereby prohibited within the City of Rochester.
Article 6 § 101-19 Fowl at large. No person shall allow fowl to run at large in the Inside Tax District, but he shall keep the same in suitable houses and runways. § 101-20 Noise by fowl. No person shall harbor a crowing cock in the Inside Tax District.
Chapter 16, Article XVIII, § 12-62: No person shall keep within the city of Syracuse any animal which is deemed to include a reptile, bird and/or an animal of a species which is wild, ferocious, fierce, dangerous, poisonous or naturally inclined to do harm*…
*In Chapter 16, Article XVIII, § 12-63, wild, ferocious, fierce, dangerous, and poisonous animals, birds and reptiles are defined to include cows, guinea hens, goats, sheep, and swine, excluding Chinese Potbelly pigs.
|Utica||Chapter 2-5, Article III, § 2-5-56: A. No person shall have, or keep, or offer to sell any fowl within the City of Utica. “Fowl” includes any live chickens, geese, ducks, pigeons, or doves.|
Title V, Chapter 5-2, Article I, § 5-2-1: A. No live chickens, geese, ducks or other fowl shall be kept in the city unless they are securely enclosed in such a manner as to prevent them from straying from the premises of the person owning them.
Title V, Chapter 5-2, Article I, § 5-2-2: A. It shall be unlawful for any person to allow any livestock which is under his ownership, care, custody or control to run at large.
Chapter 65, § 65-23: No person shall keep, cause or allow to be kept on, in or about any premises or property any poultry, fowl or other birds, except as hereinafter provided:
A) It shall be lawful to keep for purposes of sale live poultry in a live poultry market.