Chickens in the City

I woke up this morning (cue blues riff), and heard a report on WAMU saying that “Officials in the mayor’s office say there is currently no law prohibiting raising chickens within city limits if residents follow guidelines on proper animal care and shelter.”
As I remember, I thought there were laws on the books that in one way or another say no to chickens. Just to make sure I checked The City Chicken, which according to it’s chicken law page says, “Washington D.C. Housing chickens here violates health laws and is not legal.”
Then I checked the online DC Code, plugging in Chicken, poultry and fowl. DC ST § 8-1808, says, “(d) No person shall change the natural color of a baby chicken, duckling, other fowl or rabbit.” and “(f) No person shall sell or offer for sale a baby chicken, duckling, other fowl, or rabbit that has had its natural color changed.” and more importantly:

(h)(1) Except as provided in this subsection, no person shall import into the District, possess, display, offer for sale, trade, barter, exchange, or adoption, or give as a household pet any living member of the animal kingdom including those born or raised in captivity, except the following: domestic dogs (excluding hybrids with wolves, coyotes, or jackals), domestic cats (excluding hybrids with ocelots or margays), domesticated rodents and rabbits, captive-bred species of common cage birds, nonpoisonous snakes, fish, and turtles, traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes, and racing pigeons (when kept in compliance with permit requirements).

As I read that, I don’t interpret chickens or quail or ducks or any other fowl one may want to raise in the city as a ‘common caged bird’. And if I want pigeons, or squab, they’d have to be racing pigeons and have a permit, issued by what agency I don’t know.
So far with my limited knowledge it looks like chickens aren’t permitted, nor are they illegal.

4 thoughts on “Chickens in the City”

  1. With my current house and yard, sadly, no. My backyard is the size of a very small effeciency apartment and I just don’t have the space to keep them and garden. Then there is the noise factor.
    But I have been poking around the net looking into quail and pigeons. They are much smaller birds and as far as I can tell a possible match for my limited space. Also they aren’t as loud as chickens. Pigeons coo and quail chirp. The plus side of quail is that their eggs are edible and can sub for chicken eggs. However I need to know more about housing, feeding, caring and dispatching these critters before seriously taking them on.

  2. Okay So pertaining to the law you stated. It says "Captive-bred species of common caged birds"

    Most chickens are captive-bred and common. And If you had them in a cage. (Maybe just one or two because you had a small place and wanted a few eggs) Wouldn't it be considered a Captive-bred species of common caged birds.

    So would it then be ok?

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