Ordinance 70608 allows residents in the City of St. Louis to possess up to 8 chickens depending on the size of the of their property. The bill, which was sponsored by Alderwoman Cara Spencer and Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, was passed by a vote of 22-3 and signed into law by Mayor Lyda Krewson in July 2017. The previous ordinance only allowed up to four animals per city parcel, including dogs, cats, chickens, and rabbits.
More than a year's worth of engaging residents and compiling data by the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC) contributed to the policy change in the city. The STLFPC urban agriculture survey found that residents wanted a minimum spatial requirement for various reasons, including animal welfare, public health and cleanliness, which was incorporated into Board Bill 52.
Below you can find some frequently asked questions about the bill.
Learn more about the ordinance here.
This document was made to ensure public knowledge about the Board Bill No. 52.
Q: What does this bill change?
A: The previous law allowed a maximum of four of the following animals: cats, dogs, chickens, a series of other birds, and one pot-bellied pig. Under the Board Bill 52, residents in any zoning district would be allowed to keep a maximum of eight fowl depending on size of one’s yard, in addition to up to four domestic animals (Section 3 Subsection D). Things that won’t change in the new bill include the banning of large farm animals or roosters on any residential area.
(Fowl: chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeons, quail, and pheasants)
Q: Are roosters allowed?
A: No. The previous law and Board Bill 52 states that roosters are prohibited in the City of St. Louis. (Section 3 Subsection A)
Q: Does this change how many cats and dogs I can have?
A: No! The number of chickens one may have does not influence the number of pets allowed. You are still able to have 4 domestic animals.
Q: What are the sanitary conditions required for keeping chickens?
A: The Health Commissioner has the authority to outline set standards and regulations for keeping chickens that include spatial regulations and the maintenance of bugs, smell, allergens, manure, containers, and deceased chickens.
Q: What are the spatial guidelines for keeping chickens or rabbits?
A: The bill sets minimum spatial requirements per chicken (Section 3 Subsection C). Each individual chicken requires four square feet of indoor space, or covered space like a coop, and ten square feet of outdoor enclosure area, an area uncovered like a cage. For example, if a city resident would like to have four chickens, the resident would need to make available a total of sixteen square feet of indoor space and forty square feet of outdoor enclosure area. The spacial requirements were decided based on the guidance of the City of St. Louis Department of Health.
Q: If my neighbor owns chickens, how will it impact my living space or neighborhood?
A: It is not permitted to keep chickens in residential front yards (Section 4 Subsection A). This way, birds will be out of sight for neighbors and passers-by. According to a survey research study in the Land Use Policy Journal, 87% of chicken owners had not received any complaints from their neighbors about their birds.
Q: What about the noise and the smell?
A: Chickens, as long as they are well-maintained and clean, do not smell any more than any other animal. As long as owners follow basic sanitation and maintenance practices, smell should not be a problem. In addition, chickens tend to be fairly quiet animals compared to barking dogs, noisy traffic, and other typical city sounds.
Q: Who do I call if a neighbor is out of compliance?
A: If a citizen notices a neighbor that is out of compliance with the above sanitary or spatial guidelines, you can call the City of St. Louis Department of Health as violations of this code are considered a public nuisance. Their phone number is (314) 612-5100.
Q: What are some of the health concerns that come along with raising chickens and how will they be addressed?
A: Although there have been some health concerns over keeping backyard chickens, ensuring the health of chickens and their owners is simple as long as certain precautions are taken to prevent disease. In order to protect you and your birds from disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend washing hands with soap and water after handling poultry or related materials such as food and water dishes or cages. Disease can also be prevented by wearing gloves when cleaning cages and coops. Owners can prevent disease by keeping living spaces clean for chickens, monitoring for signs of sick birds, and contacting professionals for help if they believe a bird is infected. For more information and resources on disease and recommendations check out this webpage.
Q: Why are this bill and urban agriculture valuable to St. Louis?
A: Backyard chickens can provide a multitude of benefits for residents including fresh eggs, natural fertilizer, and pest control. In addition, increasing urban agriculture puts St. Louis on the map as a leader in developing local food systems by supporting residents in growing and/or raising food for themselves and their community.
Q: Are other cities passing similar policies?
A: Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas, Portland, Chicago, Detroit, and many more cities have passed similar policies. Even Missouri’s own Kansas City and Columbia permit keeping backyard chickens.
Q: What are the basics of keeping chickens?
A: Keeping chickens is a fulfilling practice and involves multiple steps and preparations. This progress begins by doing your research on raising chickens, including choosing what breed of chickens are the best fit for you, deciding if you are going to obtain chicks or adults, finding the best space in your yard for them, and ensuring that this space fits the spacial requirements laid out by the City (see above for more information on spatial requirements). Once you have researched and obtained the proper infrastructure for housing chickens, they require feeding and watering, maintaining coops, managing manure and properly disposing of their waste, which is compostable. For more information on raising chickens visit this link.