Are you curious about whether or not you can have chickens in Texas? If so, you’re in luck! In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the laws, ordinances and permits surrounding chicken ownership in the Lone Star State.
Can You Have Chickens In Texas?
The short answer is yes, but the laws and regulations are regulated by the cities. Texas does not have any laws regulating backyard fowl, which consist of turkey, geese, ducks and chickens as pets. That said, if you live in city limits, you need to check the city ordinances of your municipality to make sure that having backyard fowl is not prohibited.
The most common restriction you will find is a limit on the number of chickens you can have as well as a noise ordinance, and enclosure regulations. For example, Austin limits residents to 10 chickens and has a noise ordinance in place that prohibits any animal from making “unreasonable” or continued noise that is disturbing to people.
Anyone caught violating any part of the ordinance of raising poultry (“fowl) is subject to fines, fees, and penalties. Penalties will vary depending on the municipality, but can be as high as $2,000.
So, while you can technically have chickens in Texas, it’s important to check with your local city ordinances before setting up your coop and getting some chicks.
Types of Poultry You Can Raise?
Texas considers backyard poultry as pets, not livestock. The types of fowl that are acceptable for keeping in the backyard consist of the following:
- Guinea Hens
Most ordinances require an enclosure to hold two or more fowl and it be located at least 50 – 150 feet from the residence. The key to raising chickens in Texas or any other state is to ensure they have enough space to move around, access to food and water, and are protected from the elements and predators.
Enclosures for Chickens in Texas
The type of enclosure you build will largely depend on the amount of space you have as well as your budget. Enclosures can be as simple as chicken wire fencing or a more complex setup with an automatic door that opens and closes based on the time of day.
No matter what type of enclosure you choose, make sure it is sturdy and will protect your chickens from predators like coyotes, raccoons, and hawks. Ventilation and insulation are vital to ensure adequate air movement in hot and cold weather.
You should also include a chicken coop or house in the enclosure for them to sleep in at night as well as lay their eggs.
Permits for Chickens in Texas
In most cases, you will not need a permit to have chickens in your backyard, but it’s always best to check with your municipality just to be sure.
Some cities do require a permit for animals like horses, pigs, and other livestock, but typically not for chickens.
How Much Land Do You Need for Chickens In Texas?
There is no specific information on how much property you need to raise backyard chicken. The most important thing to avoid raising more hens than you have space for. The birds must have access to clean water, food, and shelter as well as enough room to move around.
A good rule of thumb is to allow at least 9 square feet per chicken. So, if you want to have six chickens, you would need at least 54 square feet of space. That said, the more space chickens have, the happier they will be, so it’s always best to allow at least 10-12 inches per bird.
If you live in the city limits, you likely won’t have sufficient space for a large flock of chickens, which is why it’s important to check your city ordinances before getting too many birds. Not to mention, if your neighborhood has an HOA, they may not allow you to have chickens at all.
According to House Bill 1686, the minimum requirement for combined outdoor space and housing residents are required to provide 20 feet per fowl.
Chicken Laws for Chicken Keeping in Texas
Most cities will have specific requirements for keeping chickens. Below is a table of some of the most popular cities in Texas with the requirements for keeping backyard chickens:
|City||# Chickens Allowed||Distance from Structures||Coop Measurement Requirements|
|Fort Worth||12 chickens within city limits||50 feet||N/A|
|Houston||30 fowl||N/A||65 x 125 feet|
|Grand Prairie||2 hens||150 feet away from structures|
|Dallas||No limit on hens or roosters||N/A||N/A|
|Irving||24 hens and one rooster||N/A||Not specific on coop requirements, but must have more than one acre of land|
|Lewisville||5 chickens one per one-fourth acre of land||150 feet||N/A|
|Murphy||No more than 4 hens||no closer than 50 feet||N/A|
|St. Paul||Two tiers of chicken permits available. Tier One: 1-6 chickens. Tier Two: 7-15 chickens.|
Residents may own no more than 16 chickens at one time and roosters are prohibited.
Permit fee is required.
|Plano||10 maximum roosters prohibited||N/A||N/A|
|Richardson||Undisclosed, but roosters are not allowed||N/A||NA|
|Mansfield||4 chickens on .5 acres rooster is allowed with permit.||50 feet from neighbors||N/A|
|San Antonio||No more than 8 fowl||50 feet away from dwelling||N/A|
|Waco||Undisclosed||50 feet away from residence||Doesn’t say, but a fenced in yard doesn’t qualify as a coop or pen.|
|Wylie||Up to 8||25 feet||3 square feet of space per bird|
Based on the figures above, it will help you determine the best and most restrictive areas for keeping backyard chickens in Texas.
Laws are subject to change, so remember when in doubt, check with your local city ordinances to ensure you are following the law
Are Roosters Illegal In Texas?
In most cities such as Dallas, Galveston, roosters are illegal to own. They are also not allowed in the city limits of Houston.
The main reason for this is because roosters are incredibly loud, and their crow can carry for miles. The early morning hours are when they are the most active and vocal, which can disrupt your neighbors’ sleep.
If you’re considering getting a rooster, check with your municipality first to see if they are allowed.
Can You Let Chickens Roam In Your Backyard In Texas?
Texas requires chickens remain in a secure enclosure at all times. The only time they are allowed to roam free is if they are supervised. This means that you won’t be allowed to raise free-range chickens in your backyard.
The best way to provide your chickens with enough space is to build a large enclosure that they can access whenever they want. This way, they can roam around and get plenty of exercise without getting into trouble.
That said, if you live in the suburbs or rural areas, you may be able to let your chickens roam free during the day as long as they are supervised.
Can You Change The Texas Chicken Laws and Ordinance?
Yes, according to Kera News, residents in Plano Texas without agriculturally zoned chicken were not allowed to have backyard chickens. The Senate Bill 1620 allowed cities to ban rooster ownership, enforce coop standards and prohibit breeding.
However, the backyard chicken ordinances were changed after a city council meeting on September 27,2021. The new ordinance states that residents can now raise no more than 10 animals, which includes cats, dogs, and backyard chickens on their property.
However residents are required to complete the application for backyard chicken permit and pay a $15 non-refundable fee before getting the chickens.
This means if you live in an area in Texas that doesn’t allow chickens, you can try to petition to change the law in your city. It’s worth a shot!
At the time of this writing, Texas House Bill 1686 allows any Texas property to have no more than six rabbits, chickens (fowl) or fewer than three beehives. The law was passed to help single family residents produce their own food.
That said, the law prohibits the keeping of a rooster. It’s also important to check the municipalities in your area because they can have their own laws and ordinances in place that are more restrictive than the state law.
So if you’ve ever thought about raising backyard chickens in hopes of producing your own fresh organic eggs, Texas is a great place to start.