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Somerville chicken laws? [Mar. 1st, 2008|02:50 pm]
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I've been reading about chickens recently, and they sure are nifty. I know that poultry and other livestock are not allowed in the Boston city limits, but what about in other nearby areas? Is there a poultry section of the MA legal code? If I get chickens, will my house rabbit suddenly have its status of pet downgraded to livestock? I am not kidding about this.

This lady says thumbs up to keeping urban chickens.

Also, the MSPCA farm on the North Shore has like 200 ducks up for adoption. If nothing else, visiting the ducks would make for an interesting day trip.

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[User Picture]From: quality617
2008-03-01 08:13 pm (UTC)
Every city and town has their own rules. The local Board of Health would be the one to contact.
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[User Picture]From: liamstliam
2008-03-01 11:06 pm (UTC)
For instance, I think in Waltham the limit is three chickens and a rooster.
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[User Picture]From: bikini_killl
2008-03-01 08:17 pm (UTC)
wtf. They make noise. If your neighbors don't already hate you, they surely will after you buy livestock.
My neighbor used to have a DUCK in her bathroom. Her bathroom wall was touching my kitchen wall and it was just giant wtf-ery. I don't understand why people choose to live in the city with such pets. Move that shit to Sturbridge or something It just seems so selfish on so many levels.
(yeah, I'm bitter about it)
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[User Picture]From: urbpan
2008-03-01 08:44 pm (UTC)
There were farms in the city up until the middle 20th century. People used to save their kitchen waste to give to the local pig farmer (a friend of mine in her 40s, who grew up in Lynn remembers doing this). People have just become tolerant of different noises and smells than they used to be. I'd rather hear my neighbors ducks and chickens than the car alarms and leaf blowers I hear now.

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[User Picture]From: derspatchel
2008-03-01 08:24 pm (UTC)
I still can't figure out what's going on in the second picture, so I'm going to pretend it's one of those "How Many Crazy Things Can You Spot?" games.
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[User Picture]From: agreenballoon
2008-03-01 08:38 pm (UTC)
I grew up raising chickens in new hampshire.
I hated them as a kid, but if you want them for fertilization of your garden, and fresh eggs- i think they'll serve your purpose well.

we raised about four sets of chickens, starting from chicks, and they were never mean, although they were really really dusty!
we were able to pick them up and bring them into their house, or heard them with sticks, and none of them ever spit fire at us or anything.

i highly suggest NOT getting a rooster, since he'll just fuck it all up, as it is the nature of most boys to do anyways.

good luck, lady!

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[User Picture]From: ihavemeaning
2008-03-02 12:44 am (UTC)
Yeah, I would never get a rooster. Anyhow, I appreciate all the different perspectives. Thanks for your comments.
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[User Picture]From: urbpan
2008-03-01 08:40 pm (UTC)
Check out the lj comm citychickens.
Check the laws of some of the local cities, but I suspect that the nearest towns that permit chickens will be out by 128 (metrowest and such).

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[User Picture]From: perspicuity
2008-03-01 09:05 pm (UTC)
i've definitely seen a few chickens in the city, specifically a lady over by fresh pond had a few few cruising around her yard. neat.

about 10-15 yrs ago, there was someone over in boston near where the big EMS is, side street, that had a pet hog... got quite big, i think it finally expired, and that was the last one allowed.

it's kinda dumb they don't allow them. a lot of dogs and cats are kept badly, and they make noise and smells and ... well. they're animals. ever live next to someone with a parrot? cool if you like it :> perhaps not so cool if you don't. some people prefer vultures :)

me? i had pet indoor bantam chickens. good stuff.

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[User Picture]From: forever_dreams
2008-03-01 08:43 pm (UTC)
I'd say adopt one of the wild turkeys running amok Boston. :)
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[User Picture]From: thespian
2008-03-02 12:18 am (UTC)
you have a Jeremy/Barnaby/Colargol icon, and therefore, I love you.

(not able to use them because I'm not paid, but I have several myself :-) )

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[User Picture]From: tlaad
2008-03-01 08:46 pm (UTC)
There's other kinds of poultry you can try. I've lived with guinea hens, and found them pleasanter than chickens on the one hand, but also noisier. They lay chicken-sized eggs, and poop (I'm sure) just as well as a chicken does.
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[User Picture]From: lunarcamel
2008-03-01 10:40 pm (UTC)
And the noises they make are SO CUTE! I love guinea fowl.
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[User Picture]From: volksjager
2008-03-01 09:02 pm (UTC)
If that's the law it certainly is NOT enforced. Walk down Mass ave past the Hospital and you see and hear many a hispanic woman out feeding the chickens or seethe guts and heads in the street.
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[User Picture]From: bikergeek
2008-03-01 09:19 pm (UTC)
It's not uncommon in places outside the First World for people in urban areas to keep small quantities of livestock in backyards. Was common in this country up through the Second World War.
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[User Picture]From: pearlythebunny
2008-03-01 09:19 pm (UTC)
I'm under the impression that people who have city chickens do not have roosters. So there is no noise, and the chickens are easy to take care of. They eat bugs, grass, bread. I'm been sort of looking into this myself, but I have decided my soil is too contaminated to make me want to eat any eggs laid by Somerville chickens. There are, apparently, many people with chickens in Belmont. It only take a few chickens to provide a dozen eggs per week.

Codman farm has a class on raising backyard chickens. I think it also discusses the laws regarding them.

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[User Picture]From: pearlythebunny
2008-03-01 09:30 pm (UTC)
This is from Roots and Sprouts, a Belmont newletter:

You may be surprised to learn it is legal to
keep chickens in Belmont and that a number
of families around town have welcomed
chickens to their backyards. It is quite possible
chickens are already living in a backyard
near you, where they are happily clucking
away and delivering breakfast daily to their
owners in return for chicken feed, insects, and
weeds. While there may be many reasons to
become a chicken owner and raise these colorful
pets in your Belmont backyard, here are
a few to consider.
Chickens lay eggs. This is the most delicious
benefit. Hens do not need a rooster to enable
or encourage them to produce eggs; however,
the eggs would be infertile and cannot
hatch. There is no difference in appearance
or flavor between fertile or infertile eggs.
The eggs that your hens lay will not only be
fresher and tastier than commercial eggs, but
they will also be healthier.

Chickens are inexpensive to keep. They eat
chicken feed and leftovers, and they leave you
eggs in return. Collecting eggs for chicken
feed is not a bad bargain.
Chickens require little space. A general rule of
thumb for determining space in a chicken
coop for a backyard flock is at least four
square feet of space per hen and at least 10
square feet of space in an outdoor run. That
means that the space that chickens need
can easily be found within the average-sized
Belmont backyard.

It is easy to care for chickens. It takes only a
few minutes each day to feed chickens and
collect the eggs. Coop bedding does not
need to be changed very frequently and is a
valuable addition to a compost pile.
In addition to these reasons to consider keeping
some backyard hens, you may also enjoy
connecting with other Belmont chicken owners
for further information through a Yahoo
web group. Group members will be happy
to talk about their chickens at

The Town of Belmont does require an inspection
and a permit from the Belmont Health
Department to keep hens.
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[User Picture]From: ihavemeaning
2008-03-02 12:56 am (UTC)
So cute! I'd worry about them during the very cold weather, which is another major concern. Cute bunny, by the way. Is she yours?
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[User Picture]From: siphen
2008-03-01 10:45 pm (UTC)
I know a family who live in a rather affluent metro-west suburb and they had two pet chickens for years, I'd say if their town allowed it ,alot of towns should.
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[User Picture]From: pahsons
2008-03-01 10:51 pm (UTC)
Aah, livestock. Makes me wish my old german shepard was still alive. She could scale 6 foot stockade fences and killed everything she could fit in her mouth. I think one of my neighbors wanted chickens, but decided against it, with my dog constantly running around with rabbits and other wildlife in her mouth.

Do it, I'm sure I'm not the only person who had a dog he could not stop.
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[User Picture]From: pearlythebunny
2008-03-02 12:18 am (UTC)
Here's the only info about chickens that I could find in the Somerville ordinances:

Sec. 3-4. Animals at-large.
(a) No person shall allow any domestic fowl, swine, goat, sheep, ox, cow, horse, or other grazing animal, owned by him or her or in his or her charge or control, to go at-large or to graze in or upon any of the streets, parks, commons, public grounds or lands of the city.
(b) No person shall allow any dog owned by him or her, or in his or her charge or control, to swim in a pond in any of the parks or public grounds of the city, or to trample upon or injure any flower bed, flower, shrub or other property of the city, in any of such parks or public grounds.
(c) No sheep, swine or meat cattle shall be driven in or over any street or bridge in droves of more than 25 animals each, or at less intervals than 30 minutes between any two droves, or except in charge of at least two competent persons.
(Code 1963, § 12-21)
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[User Picture]From: ihavemeaning
2008-03-02 12:57 am (UTC)
This is useful. Thank you! I'd move to a place with a protected back yard w/o weird chemicals and stuff. But it is good to know that I'd have to keep oxen off of the street.
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[User Picture]From: stesguitarpick
2008-03-03 03:50 am (UTC)
I have no comment on the subject except for the fact that I was walking around a sketchy area of Central Square (Cambridge) and a chicken came out of this cage that was attached to the side of their house. Scared the fucking shit out of me.
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[User Picture]From: watchamacallit
2008-03-03 02:30 pm (UTC)
As commented above, there is a home outside of Central Square (in Cambridgeport) with chickens and a rooster. Totally fucking annoying if you live near there.
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[User Picture]From: ihavemeaning
2008-03-03 02:34 pm (UTC)
Right, well, I wouldn't get roosters. I appreciate your input. I want to continue to be a good neighbor.
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From: archer823
2008-03-03 07:52 pm (UTC)
Can't have live chickens in Boston? Someone should tell the live poultry shops in Chinatown that.
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