Can you have Backyard Chickens in Florida?


Like most states in America, backyard chicken laws in Florida are mainly decided on a city or county level. Below is a list of some of the most populous cities in the Sunshine State and the backyard chicken laws that they have. The cities include:

  • Miami
  • Jacksonville
  • Orlando
  • Tallahassee

Miami

Sec. 6-1. of the city code outlines the regulations regarding owning backyard chickens in Miami. Below is a piece taken from the code describing these rules:

‘(b) Live poultry, fowl or grazing animals may be kept, harbored, bred or maintained in the city, subject to the following limitations and restrictions:

  • (1) No live poultry, fowl or grazing animals shall be kept, harbored, bred or maintained unless the person owning or leasing or occupying the premises on which the same are kept, harbored, bred or maintained secures, possesses and maintains a permit from the county health unit, authorizing the use of the premises for such purpose.
  • (2) In no event shall the owner or lessee or occupant of any premises keep, harbor, breed or maintain at any one time more than 15 hens and 30 growing chicks. No roosters shall be kept, harbored, bred or maintained at any time.
  • (3) No poultry, fowl or grazing animal pens or houses shall be situated less than 100 feet from any human dwelling, and no poultry, fowl or grazing animal shall be permitted to run at large.
  • (4) Poultry, fowl and grazing animal pens shall be kept free from odors and free from fly breeding.
  • (5) All food used for poultry, fowl and grazing animals shall be kept in suitable containers with tightfitting covers, so as to be inaccessible to rats.
  • (6) All poultry or fowl droppings shall be removed from the pens at least twice weekly, wrapped in paper and placed in covered garbage cans for removal. Droppings shall not be used for fertilizer unless first treated so as to destroy fly maggots. ‘

To view the entire code please click here.

Jacksonville

Jacksonville has regulated the ownership of backyard chickens. There are numerous rules in relation to having them. The city’s code has a dedicated section that discusses backyard chickens. Below are some of the rules listed:

‘Sec. 656.422. – Chickens allowed by permit in certain zoning districts.

(a) For the purpose of this section, a chicken (Gallus domesticus) refers only to a female chicken. Chickens, also referred to herein as “Backyard hens,” are allowed in conjunction with a single family dwelling as defined in Part 16 of the Zoning Code, by permit and subject to the performance standards and development criteria set forth herein.

(b) A permit is required to ensure compliance with performance standards and development criteria. The application for permit must be submitted to the Planning and Development Department prior to placement of any chickens on the property. A one-time non-refundable permit fee as found in www.coj.net/fees , shall be required at the time of application. Prior to permit application, all residents wishing to have backyard hens must evidence the completion of a chicken keeping seminar from the Duval County Agricultural Extension Office. Upon submission of a completed application as determined by the Planning and Development Department, completion of the seminar, and payment of the permit fee as found in www.coj.net/fees , the Planning and Development Department shall issue the permit. If applicant has prior attended the chicken keeping seminar, applicant shall submit the permit application with fee, along with proof that applicant has completed the chicken keeping seminar at the Duval County Agricultural Extension Office.

(c) Up to five chickens may be permitted on each residential lot. If the lot is larger than one acre, five additional chickens may be permitted per each additional 21,780 square feet over one acre…’

The code details more of the requirements a person would need to abide to if they want to have background chickens in the city. Please find the code here.

Orlando

Sec. 6.19. of the city of Orlando code describes the rules around backyard chickens. Please see the extract from this section that mentions them:

Any person keeping chickens as an accessory to an occupied dwelling shall be subject to the following restrictions:

  • (1) Permit Required. A Backyard Chicken permit (hereinafter “permit”), is required for the keeping of chickens. The permit is personal to the permittee and may not be assigned. If the person applying for the permit is not the fee simple owner of the subject property, the fee simple owner must provide owner authorization and consent to the application. The fee for the permit will be set by Resolution of the Orlando City Council.
  • (2) Up to four chickens may be kept at an occupied single family residence upon receiving a permit from the City.
  • (3) Ducks, geese, turkeys, peafowl, male chickens/roosters, pigeons, or any other poultry or fowl are not allowed.
  • (4) Chickens are not allowed on duplex, triplex, townhomes, multifamily properties, community gardens, or any other uses.
  • (5) Chickens must be secured within a covered chicken coop, chicken tractor, or fenced pen/run area at all times and are not allowed to run at large upon any public properties or off the premises of the owner. The coop and pen/run area must be completely secured from predators with hardware cloth or similar material. Chicken wire shall not be used.
  • (6) The coop and pen/run area must be cleaned regularly and kept free of insects and rodents. Odors from chickens, chicken manure, or other items associated with the keeping of chickens must not be perceptible at the property boundaries. Chickens must not be permitted to create a nuisance consisting of noise or pests, or contribute to any other nuisance condition.
  • (7) No manure may be allowed to accumulate on the floor of the coop or ground. All feed and other items associated with the keeping of chickens that are likely to attract or to become infested with rodents or other pests shall be kept in a rodent and pest-proof container.
  • (8) Composting of chicken manure is allowed in an enclosed bin. The composting bin shall be kept at least 20 feet away from all property lines.
  • (9) Chickens must be kept for personal use only. Selling chickens, eggs, feathers, or chicken manure, or the breeding of chickens is prohibited.
  • (10) Chickens may not be slaughtered on premises.
  • (11) Any person who violates any provision of the article will, upon conviction, be punished as provided in Section 1.08 of this Code. Additionally, the planning official has the sole discretion to revoke the permit and require that the chickens be removed within 10 days if he or she determines that the permittee is in violation of the requirements of the Code.’

The entire code including the rest of the above mentioned section can be found here.

Tallahassee

Unlike the previous cities mentioned, Tallahassee prohibits the ownership of backyard chickens under most circumstances. A list of exceptions taken from Sec. 4-5 in their municipality code is below:

(d) Exceptions. This shall not apply to:

(1) Any bona fide research and instructional programs conducted by any university entirely on university property, or to any government project instituted specifically for the control and management of invasive plant growth within the city limits.

(2) The keeping of female chickens (hens) for non-commercial purposes so long as they are confined in a securely enclosed yard or pen at all times and are kept no closer than 20 feet to neighboring dwellings. In addition, a single rooster may be kept in conjunction with said hens for the purpose of flock sustainability.

(3) Any horse or fowl kept on tracts of land within the city limits that consist of five or more contiguous acres or any other livestock kept on 15 or more contiguous acres.

(4) Any livestock or fowl that can be shown by the owners to have been permanently and lawfully residing in the city at the time of passage of the ordinance from which this chapter derives.’

The city’s code in its entirety can be found here.

Conclusion on Florida Backyard Chicken Laws

Many localities in Florida allow the ownership of backyard chickens. In Miami, no more than 15 hens and 30 growing chicks are allowed on a premises. In Jacksonville, up to five chickens may be permitted on each residential lot. More than five are allowed if the lot is bigger than one acre. In Orlando, up to four chickens may be kept after receiving a permit. Tallahassee, however, prohibits the ownership of backyard chickens under most circumstances.

To find out more about backyard chicken laws in cities that weren’t mentioned above, make sure to contact the chicken in question directly.

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This article is written for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Sources

  • City of Miami, Code of Ordinances § 6-1. (2020)
  • City of Jacksonville, Code of Ordinances § 656.422. (2020)
  • City of Orlando, Code of Ordinances § 6.19 (2020)
  • City of Tallahassee, Code of Ordinances § 4.5 (2020)

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