Is Your Coop Up to Code?
By Olivia Gordon and Kelly Connelly
Which came first: the chicken or the city code?
The growing popularity of backyard chicken coops in Austin neighborhoods prompted the City of Austin to release guidelines helping urban chicken owners from running afoul of the law. The city codes restrict where and how owners can plant their coops.
Code states that chicken enclosures must remain 50 feet from neighboring residences and businesses, and must be large enough to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the chickens that call it home. Would-be chicken owners should also check with their homeowners association – if applicable – to ensure the birds are allowed.
Space to roam provides the chickens with freedom and the owners with healthier, more nutritious eggs. A research report from the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program found chickens naturally raised on a pasture, like those in many backyard coops, lay eggs with less fat and more vitamin A and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Carol Ann Sayle, owner and operator of Boggy Creek Farm, has about 80 chickens on her East Austin property. For the past eight years, she’s given seminars at the Natural Gardener nursery on how to start a backyard brood.
Sayle said keeping chickens provides more than fresh eggs – their intelligence and companionship also make them great pets.
“Chickens are easy pets to take care of – much easier than dogs or cats,” she said. “But you can’t think that chickens are just going to last two to three years. You have to be in it for the long haul.”