Chicken are fun and productive pets, to have in your backyard, but certain cities have very strict rules, which prohibits having them. If you are living in a city and really love having these birds in your backyard then you need to check out if it is legal to have them. Cities such as Calgary, Detroit, and Iowa City do not allow them, and some cities will only allow them if you have a large property.
The First Step
Your first step would be to find out if keeping chickens in your backyard is legal in your city. Certain websites provide information on laws regarding rearing chickens across the country, but they list inaccurate information sometimes. The best way to be sure is to check the municipal code of your city, which will be available online. In the code, you will have to check out the section on animals or pets.
Certain cities make keeping certain animals illegal, since these animals can be dangerous or are known for creating a nuisance. Next, you need to check the Zoning section in the municipal code, which is more area specific. Here, you are most likely to find the animals allowed in the zone, and the number you can keep.
If unfortunately, chickens are not allowed in your city, your fate will mainly rest with your neighbors. If your chickens do not create a nuisance, and your neighbors do not complain, you are relatively safe. However, you need not fear any major repercussions, since many cities that make them illegal are also known to tolerate them.
If your neighbors see you with chickens, they will most probably tell you their concerns, which is usually the nuisance of smell and noise. You can educate your neighbors about keeping chickens. You can make them aware that the nuisance of smell will only arise if the chicken coop is not maintained properly, and is messy and filthy.
Secondly, a small flock will defecate as much as a small dog and your neighbors will not mind that if you promise to keep the area clean. The problem of noise will not arise if you are keeping only chickens without any roosters. Hens will only peep or cluck softly, and they remain quiet during the night.
However, you will be responsible for the safety of your chickens. Neighborhood dogs and cats, and the wildlife in your area like hawks, raccoons, coyotes, possums, and foxes will be eager to devour your chickens. You will have to keep your chickens safe from all these predators, which may not be easy. As long as you do not go and fight with your neighbor if his dog has eaten your chickens, then everything should be fine. Well, this is not really true because someone's dog needs to remain on their property but the point is made. You need to protect your chickens.
A Winning Strategy
Finally, there might be concern about the reproduction rate of chickens and that their number might overwhelm animal shelters. Many people who keep chickens as pets are unwilling to have them for dinner, and their number can multiply dramatically. However, you can always keep control over their number and hand over extra chickens or roosters to nearby farms.