Hens for Houston

A movement to keep Houston current by allowing the raising of chicken hens on city lots

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  • Barred Rocks are generally calm hens which lay light to medium brown, slightly pinkish large eggs.
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BARC/HFH Proposal (2013)

Starting February 2013, our group has met multiple times in stakeholder sessions with the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care (BARC) to create a mutually acceptable draft of changes to the section governing chickens.

 Under the BARC/HFH proposal, the revised ordinance would…

– Unify regulations governing pet ownership

– Restore property right protections to constituents

– Remove current enforcement hurdles for BARC

Additionally, the BARC/HFH proposal preserves the spirit of our June 2012 working draft (see right).

Our recommendations for a new ordinance:

Based on conversations with Animal Control organizations, chicken owners, neighbors, non-profits, City Staff and based on analysis of other cities and Houston specific demographics our general recommendations include:

1) Eliminate the distance constraint which requires coops and chickens to observe a certain setback from neighboring residences. The current code of ordinances (Chapter 6) regarding Animals and Fowl already prohibits unreasonably loud pets, loose pets (no “roaming-at-large”) and unsanitary conditions. Houston Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care (BARC) confirms that most chicken related complaints originate under these general sections, and are unrelated to the distance requirement (currently 100 ft). Many other cities, such as San Antonio and Bellaire, use this method to regulate chickens, without imposing a distance requirement. Per capita, Houston has twice as many complaints as these other cities.

2) Protect the rights of neighbors by punishing violations of the chicken ordinance to the same degree as violations by cats and dogs. The ordinance must preserve protections for neighbors of chickens, but should not discriminate against chickens and their owners, as compared to other pets.

3) Recognize chicken waste as a valuable fertilizer. The current ordinance restricts the composting of chicken manure, a valuable, safe, organic fertilizer. The current rules are more restrictive for this fertilizer than for dog and cat waste, which is unfit for compost due to its high bacteria content. This section of the ordinance should be revised to capture the resource that is currently being wasted.

We continue to believe that to write a functional ordinance requires a dialogue between all interested parties and researched data to support a new proposal. To join our dialogue, contact hensforhouston@gmail.com

These home-grown Houston eggs are from Ameraucanas (light green) and Rhode Island Reds (light brown)

We’re hatching an ordinance! These home-grown Houston eggs are from Ameraucanas (light green) and Rhode Island Reds (light brown)


Since Feb. 2012, we have been doing our research and publishing it to this site. We have been compiling information from other cities to use as guidelines for our own ordinance. We have also been working on our FAQ pages, to answer potential concerns and dispel myths about the raising of hens.

With the help of Rice University, we created a GIS map of the City of Houston neighborhoods to demonstrate how certain proposed ordinance changes would affect citizens.

We also are attempting to organize a group of interested parties who can give input as to what the new ordinance should include. This includes possibilities such as distance from other residences, limits on number of hens, permits, minimum coop sizes, and enforcement rules. The end goal is an enforceable ordinance that will allow those who want to raise hens like other pets to do so, while being responsible neighbors.


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