Best Email Subject Line: “Chicken Bill”


I received tons of emails about this great development. The Examiner reports, D.C. proposes looser restrictions on urban chickens:

“Ward 6 D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells is proposing to erase rules that prohibit fowl within 50 feet of any building “used for human habitation,” a regulation that denies most District residents the opportunity to harbor hens.”

So be honest: If this passes who’s going to get a chicken?

29 Comment

  • Bad idea – disease, stink, noise, scratched cars, droppings everywhere, grass and flower beds destroyed… on and on….. and if someone sneaks a rooster in…… well, before long there will be chickens everywhere.

  • I recently read an article about raising chickens in urban areas. I am no expert on the subject, however, but I do like the idea of getting a chicken. Not sure how I’d convince the dog not to eat it, however. (I also like the idea of raising bees, but for now I just plant a lot of stuff that blooms.)

  • There’s a ton of interest in this on the Hill (hence Tommy Wells bringing it forth). There’s a long history of chickens on the Hill, and a lot of folks want to bring it back.

    That said, I lived next to chicken coops in college and it was smelly, gross and loud, plus I’m terrified of birds. My neighbors growing up kept chickens too (we opted for a pet duck that lived in my house), and they were also smelly and gross (but also delicious; unfortunately it doesn’t seem that we’d be allowed to butcher any backyard chickens here).

  • dont be such a stick in the mud John. Ill def be getting a chicken. I know all my neighbors would approve. And it would be hard to sneak a rooster in as you would hear it crowing. Its not as though they will be running amok all over town. Although even if that were the case I dont see how it would be any worse than having pigeons and cats running about. Its omlette time

  • Hopefully not my neighbors. Chickens don’t belong in cities.

  • I’d get a Buff Orpington or Delaware chicken (or two). The difference between fresh eggs and store eggs is huge.

    A good resource for raising chickens in the city is –

  • I love real eggs, but I believe the bill only allows chickens when every neighbor within 100 feet specifically agree to their keeping. One objection = no chickens. So I doubt I’ll be plucking any out of my own back yard.

  • My neighbors tried to keep a chicken, under their porch. The poor thing died within a couple weeks, despite my calls to the city and the humane society. I fear that if chicken-keeping becomes legal, lots of people will be all inspired to get a couple, and when it’s not fun anymore, they will neglect or abandon them.

  • Bless the saints, we need more fowls in DC! I’ve been thinking of taking up chickens. This clinches it!

  • My crazy sister keeps chickens in her yard in a small town in NC. The stench is unbelievable, especially after it rains.

  • And people think there’s resentment against the Latino community now. It’s all good when your fixed gear bike riding policy wonk has a chicken, but watch Columbia Heights/Mt. Pleasant backlash when it’s not your typical granola lover.

  • Chickens die so easily I am sure not many people will do it. I grew up tending them and it was amazing how they’d just die in droves at the slightest thing. You’d turn your back for a second and then, bam! 100 dead birds.

    I just hate it how with all thats wrong with the city legislation these days focuses on chickens, smoking in front of public buildings, and gay marriage. Not that these aren’t impt issues on some level but do they really impact all of us like crime and public works failings?

  • wow – WestIndianARchie is really into urban taxonomy!

  • Chickens = chicken feed = even FATTER DC rats! No thanks!

  • I knew some folks in Montgomery County who had chickens. I don’t recall the smell being all that noticeable, but they had some serious rat problems. If you’ve ever seen chickens eating feed – it goes everywhere. Not sure this would be such a problem in Petworth since I hardly see rats up here, but I imagine residents in Adams Morgan or Mt Pleasant who are within a block or two of the restaurant strips could create a major problem for themselves.

  • Wow, Pennywise, you’re right: smoking and gay marriage are on the same level of non-importance. Let’s spend all of our efforts trying to “fix” something that can never and will never be stopped – crime – and let’s not worry about a pesky lil’ civil rights matter that could be rectified with the passing of a law. I don’t really want the same right to marry that others have, really – that’s okay…

  • I heard that chicken smell or poop attracts rats. Has anyone heard anything about this?

  • Also, isn’t this why people move to the big city: so that they don’t have to tend to the farm critters? I’ll take my chicken in packaged form from the grocery store.

  • Hi, Agnes!

  • Why does a chicken coop have only two doors?

    Because if it had four doors, it would be called a chicken sedan!

  • i am currently harboring 3 guatemalan araucana chickens in my basement. i can’t wait for this to pass so they can be legal!

  • Chickens stink… and your dog doesn’t. If you don’t clean up after your animal it’s going to stink. Small dogs with bladder issues are the worse.
    I would want to see the language of any chicken bill because there would need to be a limit on the number of chickens you can keep in the city.
    Me? I’m thinking quail or really small chickens. And just 2 or 3 if possible.
    Check out for lots of helpful info.

  • There’s a long history of chickenhawks on the Hill, too.

  • i once saw little chickens running around in an alley behind park road. I was amused.

  • I was planning on getting some chickens anyway, so if it’s legal, all the better.

  • Raising chickens is a lot harder than growing tomatoes, as Pennywise points out, urban hipsters beware.

  • There are methods for keeping urban chickens that are sanitary and discreet. It’s not for everyone– just like keeping a dog isn’t for everyone— but it should be allowed! Instead of a big fat ban on chicken keeping, there should be more discussion, education, and policy that monitors how many birds can kept and under what conditions, etc.

    I have 4 hens in our backyard. The neighbors love them, are supportive of our chicken keeping adventure, and often come to visit and watch the hens. Our coop, which is designed to look like a children’s playhouse, gets cleaned every other day and the pine shavings are mixed into our compost. The hens have their wings clipped and either stay in their pen and coop or roam our fenced-in backyard when we’re home. They provide fresh eggs for our family and our friends, provide us with great entertainment, and.. best of all…. eat MOSQUITOES!

    Our chickens (and many of the other local urban chickens I know) are kept under a lot better conditions than many other pets I see chained to trees or in stinking, muddy backyards.

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