Pet Chickens – OK for Your Community?

To peck or not to peck? That continues to be the question officials struggle within Georgia communities when considering whether or not to allow, prohibit, and/or regulate chickens and roosters in residential areas.

In 2017, Catoosa County officials in northwest Georgia considered amending their ordinances to allow chickens in residential areas. As part of their research, James Davis of Catoosa County asked for the experiences of other Georgia communities.

The results were the following. If you would like more information about a jurisdiction’s regulations, please email Richard Osborne.

Athens-Clarke County – allowed with restrictions: 1) max 6 chickens, no roosters; 2) noncommercial use only; 3) covered enclosure must be provided; 4) houses/coops/enclosures must be at least 50 ft from property line and at least 20 ft from dwelling; 5) structures greater than 25 ft must comply with accessory structure standards; 6) any fencing must comply with fencing standards

City of Chamblee – allowed with restrictions: 1) max 8 chickens; 2) roosters prohibited; 3) structures housing chickens must be 10 ft from any residence on adjacent lot; 4) chickens must be confined and remain on property at all times

Coweta County – allowed with restrictions: 1) all related accessory buildings, pens or corrals, for housing or confining animals, or for storing feed or equipment, or for similar purposes shall be located at least 100 feet from all property lines and 200 feet from any existing off-site residential dwelling; 2) the lot/parcel shall be of adequate size to accommodate the 200-foot setback; 3) the grazing area shall be maintained in viable grasses and herbages to reduce erosion and prevent unsanitary conditions. The grazing area is the area of the parcel/lot wherein livestock are confined for the purpose of feeding on growing grasses and herbages; 4) the lot/parcel shall comply with any local, state, federal, or other laws regarding livestock.

Gilmer County – allowed with restrictions: 1) prohibited in subdivisions with active covenants and restrictions prohibiting them; 2) max 20 per acre; 3) must be hobby use

Gwinnett County – allowed with restrictions: 1) minimum 10,500 sqft lot size; 2) enclosed yard or 6-sided pen required; 3) pen area must be 10 sqft per chicken; 4) chickens must be at least 20 ft from any property line and 50 ft from dwellings other than owner’s; 5) structures housing chickens must be in rear yard; 6) roosters prohibited; 7) only for pets or egg laying – slaughter prohibited; 8) must be kept in sanitary conditions and not create a nuisance; 9) number chickens based on lot size

City of Harlem – allowed with restrictions: 1) chickens shall be limited to more than 6 per lot. Roosters are not permitted; 2) coops housing chickens shall be required and provide a minimum of 3 square feet of space per chicken. Construction of coops shall follow accessory building guidelines, shall have both a roof and walls, and shall be adequately ventilated. Coops shall be maintained in a clean manner and free of vermin. Runs are permitted, but must be fully enclosed with poultry netting or a similar material. Runs shall not count towards the square footage requirement; 3) coops and runs shall not be placed less than 25 feet from any property line and shall be in the rear yard; 4) area housing the coop and run shall be fenced in to prevent chickens leaving the lot; 5) before issuing a permit to keep backyard chickens, the Director of the Planning and Zoning Department or their appointee shall inspect the premises for the criteria set forth in this section. A permit shall be required to keep backyard chickens and application shall be made on forms provided by the department. The department shall have 30 business days to issue or deny the permit.

City of Marietta – allowed with 11 restrictions (no roosters; no more than 4 chickens; must be in fenced area; only for pets or egg production, not slaughter; minimum lot size 15,000 sqft; lot must have occupied residence; etc.

Paulding County – allowed with restrictions: 1) shall not cause a nuisance; 2) prohibited from slaughter and/or breeding; 3) must be in a coop no larger than 100 sqft and enclosed on all sides; 4) coops must be 100 ft from property line adjacent to a road and 45 feet from other property lines; 5) coop must be in back/rear yard and minimum 45 ft from dwelling; 6) free range prohibited; 7) max 5 chickens

Pickens County – allowed with restrictions: 1) max 15 animals (not including dogs and cats); 2) structures housing and/or feeding livestock must be 100 ft from all property lines

City of Sandersville – allowed but must be caged or in a fenced area/coop, etc – not allowed to be free range.

City of Sylvester – chickens not allowed in residential areas

City of Winder – chickens in the city other than agricultural zones are determined to be nuisances and prohibited.