Council Directs Staff to Proceed with Hen Ordinance!

Monday May 14 2012, the City Council voted 7-2 to direct staff to proceed with an urban hen ordinance based on the ordinance already proven and currently in use in both Missoula, Montana and Fort Collins, Colorado. This is GREAT NEWS!! A one-year “sunset” clause will be written into the ordinance so we have the equivalent of a year’s pilot program to make sure that the issue works well in Billings and any tweaking that needs to occur may be easily addressed.

A public comment period will occur twice before the ordinance is adopted (July?). Regular upcoming sessions (which begin at 6:30PM) include May 28 and June 11, it is possible that the ordinance will be read at one or both of those sessions. As the agenda becomes available, we will let you know. It is important that people are ready to come in support of the issue, as we are sure that the opposition will do so :). In respect for the time of the City Council, we will ask very few people to speak, but be willing to stand in support. Respect & consideration should always work both ways.

If you can’t make one of the Monday night meetings, please email the council at and Mayor at and thank them for their willingness to help Billings make this great stride towards being a sustainable, local-foods city!

Requested Urban Chicken Ordinance

(from Missoula, MT and Ft Collins, CO)


The prohibition to keeping chickens in this section does not apply to the keeping of up to 6 female chickens while the animals are kept in such a manner that the following standards are complied with:

    1. The chickens must be kept on a single-family parcel(s), and chickens may be kept on a parcel(s) under one ownership with more than one dwelling if all residents and the owner consent in writing to allowing the chickens on the property. When chickens are kept on a multi-dwelling parcel(s) the owner of the chickens shall keep a copy of the signed approval document for inspection upon request by animal control personnel.
    2. The owner must obtain an annual permit from the City Treasurer.  The permit shall be $15.
    3. The chickens shall be provided with a covered, predator-proof chicken house that is thoroughly ventilated, of sufficient size to admit free movement of the chickens, designed to be easily accessed, cleaned and maintained by the owners and be at least 2 square feet per chicken in size.
    4. No chicken house shall be located closer than 20 feet to any residential structure occupied by someone other than the chicken owner, custodian, or keeper.
    5. The chickens shall be shut into the chicken house at night, from sunset to sunrise.
    6. During daylight hours the adult chickens shall have access to the chicken house and, weather permitting, shall have access to an outdoor enclosure on the subject property, adequately fenced to contain the chickens and to prevent access to the chickens by dogs and other predators.
    7. Stored feed must be kept in a rodent- and predator-proof container
    8. It is unlawful for the owner, custodian, or keeper of any chicken to allow the animal(s) to be a nuisance to any neighbors, including but not limited to: noxious odors from the animals or their enclosure; and noise of a loud and persistent and habitual nature.  Animal Control will determine whether or not a nuisance exists on a case-by-case basis.
    9. Enforcement Upon receiving a complaint of a possible violation Animal Control will investigate, determine if a violation exists and when appropriate leave a notice of violation and order to take corrective action with the owner, custodian, or keeper and provide them with written notice of the violations that require correction.  Animal Control will revisit the owner’s address 10 days or more after the notice of violation is issued.  If the owner, custodian, or keeper has failed to comply with the ordinance, Animal Control may issue a citation to the owner, custodian or keeper for failure to comply with any applicable requirement of this section.

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