Did you know the City of Austin’s ordinances allow the raising of poultry (“fowl”)? Here are the specifics. Even if you are an Austin resident, always check your property’s restrictions for any additional restrictions that may prevent or limit poultry raising. A special thanks to the City of Austin Planning and Development Review department and Environmental Health Services Division (EHSD) with The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, for the information below.
Last updated: 3/28/2014
Always check the City of Austin’s ordinances for revisions/updates to the ordinances.
Currently fowl, such as chickens, may be kept as an accessory use in residential zoning, In accordance with Section 25-2-891, the raising of chickens for pets or for food production is considered to be incidental to and customarily associated with a residential use.
The keeping of chickens must comply with all sections of Title 3 (Animal Regulation), including, but not limited to:
1) the chickens must be not be allowed to roam free (3-2-1 Running at Large Prohibited),
2) they may not make a frequent, or long continued noise that is disturbing to a person of normal sensibilities, (3-2-2 Noisy Animals),
3) they must be kept in a clean and healthy condition (3-2-5 Proper Care of Animals), and
4) they must be kept in an appropriate enclosure no closer than 50 feet to a residential structure other than that of the birds’ owner. (3-2-16 Enclosure for Fowl)
Current City of Austin Codes Related to the Keeping of Chickens and other Fowl
§ 3-1-1 DEFINITIONS.
(3) ENCLOSURE means a pen, cage, coop, loft, stable, shed, structure or enclosure used to house a bird, fowl, livestock, or other animal.
(4) FOWL includes a chicken, turkey, goose, guinea hen, or duck.
(5) HANDLER means a person who has charge, care, custody, or control of an animal.
(9) OWNER means a person who owns, feeds, keeps, maintains, or harbors an animal or who knowingly allows an animal to remain on the person’s property.
(13) RUNNING AT LARGE means an animal not:
(a) under the direct physical control of its owner or handler; or
(b) physically restrained within the premises of its owner or handler.
§ 3-2-11 ENCLOSURE REQUIRED.
(A) A person may not keep an animal, fowl, bird, or reptile in an enclosure unless the enclosure is:
(1) securely built;
(2) adequately sized for the kind and number of animals, fowl, birds, or reptiles housed in the structure
(3) maintained in a sanitary condition that does not allow flies to breed or cause an odor offensive to an adjacent residence or business; and
(4) in compliance with the applicable requirements of this article.
§ 3-2-16 ENCLOSURE FOR FOWL.
An enclosure used to keep two or more fowl must be located at least 50 feet from a residence or business structure, excluding the residence or business of the fowl’s owner or handler.
§ 3-2-1 RUNNING AT LARGE PROHIBITED.
Except as specifically provided in this title, an owner or handler may not allow livestock, fowl, a dog, or other domestic or dangerous animal or reptile to run at large.
§ 3-2-2 NOISY ANIMALS.
An owner or handler may not keep an animal that makes frequent or long, continued noise that is disturbing to a person of normal sensibilities.
§ 3-2-5 PROPER CARE OF ANIMALS.
(A) An animal’s owner shall keep the animal in a clean, sanitary, and healthy condition.
(B) An animal’s owner or handler shall provide for the animal:
(1) regular and adequate amounts of nutritious food that is appropriate for the species and that maintains the animal in good health;
(2) a constant and adequate supply of clean, fresh, potable water that keeps the animal hydrated for environmental conditions; and
(3) care and medical treatment for injuries, parasites, and diseases that is sufficient to maintain the animal in good health and minimize suffering.
(C) An animal’s owner shall provide the animal with shelter that:
(1) is large enough for the animal to enter, stand, turn around, and lie down in a natural manner;
(2) keeps the animal dry;
(3) provides the animal with natural or artificial shade from direct sunlight;
(4) protects the animal from excessive heat and cold and other adverse weather conditions; and
(5) is adequately ventilated.
(D) An animal’s owner may not confine the animal to the extent that it is forced to stand, sit, or lie in its own excrement.
(E) An animal’s owner shall regularly maintain the animal and its shelter to prevent odor or a health or sanitation problem.
(F) An animal’s owner shall provide the animal with exercise space that is large enough to prevent injury and keep the animal in good condition.
(G) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the animal’s treatment was as directed by a licensed veterinarian.
§ 3-7-2 OFFENSE AND PENALTY.
(A) A person who violates this title commits a Class C misdemeanor punishable by:
(1) a fine not to exceed $500; or
(2) if the person acts with criminal negligence, a fine not to exceed $2,000.
(B) Each day that a violation occurs is a separate offense.
(C) Proof of a higher degree of culpability than criminal negligence constitutes proof of criminal negligence.
(D) Except as provided in Subsections (E) and (F), the minimum fine for an offense under this title is $10.