Massachusetts law about backyard chickens

A compilation of laws, regulations, and web sources on raising chickens in your backyard.

Table of Contents

Laws

MGL c.129, s.26B Hatching eggs; baby chicks or live poultry; restriction on sale, transportation or importation

MGL c.272, s.94 Possessing, breeding, training, exhibiting, or selling fighting animals

MGL c.272, s.95 Aiding or being present at exhibition of fighting animals

Regulations

330 CMR 5 Poultry

City and town bylaws

Mass Urban Poultry Regulations: Updated May 2017
Provides a listing of town bylaws about poultry. If your city or town is not listed, see our City and town bylaws to look up the regulations for your location.

Web sources

BackyardChickens.com
Includes forums and articles about raising chickens, incubating and hatching eggs, chicken diseases and injuries, and more.

Chicken Ownership and Adoption, MSPCA Angell
Provides a list of feeding, housing, and handling necessities to consider before you adopt backyard chickens.

Poultry Program, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
Includes valuable information for backyard poultry facilities, including management practices, health issues, and more.

Raising Backyard Poultry Without Ruffling Too Many Feathers: How to Comply With Local Regulations and Bylaws and Keep Your Neighbors Happy, Kristen M. Ploetz, Esq.
Summarizes a variety of bylaws and regulations about backyard chickens with suggestions on how to handle complaints from neighbors.

Additional Resources

Print sources

Debating Over Backyard Chickens,  44 CONNtemplations 1 (Winter 2012). Available through Document Delivery Service

Enforcement of Zoning Ordinances and Other Legal Requirements Precluding Keeping of Livestock and Other Animals, American Jurisprudence Proof of Facts 3d120 AMJUR POF 3d 253

How Cities are Responding to the Urban Agriculture Movement With Micro-Livestock Ordinances, Urban LawyerWinter, 201547 Urb. Law. 85. Available through Document Delivery Service

Illegal Fowl: A Survey of Municipal Laws Relating to Backyard Poultry and a Model Ordinance for Regulating City Chickens, Environmental Law Reporter News & Analysis, September, 201242 Envtl. L. Rep. News & Analysis 10888. Available through Document Delivery Service

Of Backyard Chickens and Front Yard Gardens: The Conflict Between Local Governments and Locavores, Tulane Law Review, December, 201287 Tul. L. Rev. 231. Available through Document Delivery Service

The Symbolic Garden: An Intersection of the Food Movement and the First Amendment, Maine Law Review, 201365 Me. L. Rev. 425. Available through Document Delivery Service

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: October 22, 2018

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