Magic City Hen Expo 2013 Cancelled

Magic City Hens 501(c) nonprofit regretfully announced this week that the 2013 Hen Expo has been cancelled, due to the lack of an Events Coordinator. For more information see their Facebook page or blog at

Urban Hens Now Acknowledged as Legitimate Residents

Pardon our delay in the Big News; urban henkeeping has become a legitimate occupation for Billings residents. The Council okayed the vote 6-4 with Hanel, Cimmino, Pitman and Astle voting Nay.

Effective 10/10/12, residents can obtain a Chicken Permit from the city at a cost of $25 per year. Specific limitations will apply. The nonprofit “sister” site to this site,, will soon have a link to print the permit paperwork and a copy of the approved ordinance.

This site will no longer be used for updating on the efforts to obtain a clear urban hen ordinance for Billings as that has now been addressed. Please join the Magic City Hens site for information on classes, chicken adoptions, compost relocations, and the annual Magic City Hen Expo. You can also check out our Facebook pages: Magic City Hens, or Billings Backyard Hen Initiative.

Thanks for all the support, Billings!! (“>

Final Vote Tonight 9/10/12

If you can make it, tonight would be a super time to attend a City Council meeting! The Council will give a final vote on the urban hen ordinances tonight, 9/10/12 at the 6:30PM meeting in Council chambers.

We’re pretty close to the top of the agenda so it shouldn’t be a late night for hen supporters, although the Council has a pretty full agenda themselves.

Want to be In on the Hen Win? Come join us and help us applaud a City Council who has heard their constituents!! (“>

A Note of Thanks

For the past 16 months, we have asked hen supporters to write to the Mayor and City Council regarding your support of urban hens in Billings. Now we’re going to ask something slightly different.

Will you consider writing a brief note of appreciation for this vote? The Council/Mayor have had to wade through months of rhetoric, fears, facts, accusations, documentation, phone calls, emails, citizen testimony and more… from both sides of the coop. They came out of that on the side of urban hens. Would you write them to just say a simple “Thank you!” for the work they have done? and

Additionally, we were remiss in not expressing our gratitude to the city staff who have indicated that, while they will proceed with the issue whichever way the Council votes, they were supportive of our efforts. The Planning and Animal Control departments in particular have been gracious, fair, and encouraging during this work. On behalf of the Billings Backyard Hen Initiative, THANK YOU! It has been a struggle for all of us to keep this issue above-board and respectful of persons and job functions during this long process; mis-quotes and misunderstandings will happen at times. The only ones who got ugly about this were the anonymous commenters to the Billings Gazette online articles, and it’s easy to be inflammatory when you’re hiding behind anonymity. This issue did NOT denigrate into mud-slinging and bitterness among those of us with our names and faces out in public (citizens, city staff, City Council), and we very much appreciate that fact!  Sure makes this citizen wonder how often the problem lies with the public and our lack of respect and consideration when making a request, rather than the “government workers and politicians” that it is so easy for that public to bash. Just food for thought… (“>

Way to go, City Council & Mayor!!

This sixteen-month process is drawing to a successful conclusion! Tonight the City Council voted 6-4 in favor of zoning changes to specifically allow urban hens in Billings. They followed up that win by voting 9-1 in support of a new urban hen ordinance allowing up to 6 hens kept in clean, predator-proof housing, an annual permit, and enforced by nuisance ordinances, among other details. The new ordinance is based on that of Missoula, MT and Fort Collins, CO.

There will be a second public reading of this new ordinance, scheduled in September, then 30 days before the ordinance becomes effective.

More information will post to this website as it becomes available, including the cost and process for obtaining the permit.

Speaking on behalf of this citizen’s Initiative group, Way to go, Billings! We are really proud of our City Council and Mayor for working through this issue with us, especially to a successful conclusion. You guys listened to the information and searched through rhetoric and fears to come to a good conclusion. Thumbs up and kudos from the hen-loving community!

To those hen lovers, we ask that you respect the efforts that Dave Klein with Animal Control has gone to in putting the new ordinance together and researching potential issues. While all along there has been a legal contention on whether or not urban hens were or were not allowed in Billings, the fact that they will definitely be allowed now means that we have an extra duty to implement these new, productive pets into our yards in a responsible, careful manner. Keep in mind your neighbors, keep your coops clean and your hens quiet, and be willing to share some of those great eggs!


BIG Vote Tonight 8/27/12! 

Tonight is the first public reading of the new ordinance. We know we have said that before, however, we’re pretty sure this time that it hasn’t derailed. The City Council meeting is at 6:30PM on 8/27/12 at Council chambers, 210 N 27th Street downtown.

We need you there to stand in support of this issue! If the initiative fails, we will potentially have up to a year before we can request it again – and during that year we are planning to:

  • continue and expand on our email-the-council campaign,
  • picket the meetings with our “live” chicken Sunny (it’s a costume, don’t panic),
  • continue to show up to Council meetings to express our support of urban hens (even if they won’t be voted on),
  • continue the Letters to the Editor campaign,
  • and possibly pursue a legal approach in the event chicken owners are targeted by the City.

Despite the way the vote falls tonight, the nonprofit 501(c)3 Magic City Hens group (  will continue to offer regular urban henkeeping classes and maintain a visual presence in parades, city events, Gardeners and Farmers Markets, etc. That group will also continue Chicken Relocation and Compost Relocation projects, as well as the 2013 Hen Expo. Plans are underway for a City-Wide Coop Tour as well.

Please make it out tonight in support if at all possible; if you cannot attend, please email the Council at and Mayor at! (“>