Cities and Towns That Allow Backyard Chickens in Massachusetts

This article aims to provide an informative overview of some cities in Massachusetts that allow residents to keep backyard chickens. Keeping chickens in urban and suburban areas has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the benefits of fresh eggs, natural pest control, and a deeper connection to food sources.

However, it is important to note that regulations and ordinances regarding backyard chickens vary by city, and it is crucial for prospective chicken keepers to be aware of their local laws before starting their backyard flock. In the City of Cambridge, for instance, is it currently illegal for residents to have backyard chickens. In this article, we will explore some cities in Massachusetts that permit backyard chickens and provide a brief summary of their regulations.

A red backyard hen

Boston, MA

Backyard chickens are allowed in many neighborhoods in Boston, Massachusetts. However, there are regulations that must be followed. Some of these regulations include obtaining a permit, limiting the number of chickens to six per household, and providing a secure coop and run for the chickens. Additionally, the coop and run must be kept clean and odor-free, and the chickens must be kept in the backyard and not allowed to roam freely. It is also important to note that the keeping of roosters is prohibited in Boston due to noise complaints.

Brockton, MA

If you plan on keeping backyard chickens in the city of Brockton, Massachusetts, there are a few rules and regulations to keep in mind. First, you must obtain a $30 license from the city's Health Department. The license, which expires after every three years, requires that you provide a coop and enclosed run for your chickens that is located at least 10 feet from the rear lot line and 50 feet from any neighboring dwelling. Additionally, you must limit the number of chickens to five (roosters are prohibited) and ensure that they are kept in a clean and sanitary environment. Noise and odor nuisances must be kept to a minimum, and chickens must be properly cared for and protected from predators. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in fines or revocation of your permit.

Quincy, MA

In Quincy, Massachusetts, residents are permitted to keep backyard chickens without any specific limit on the number. However, it is important to note that city ordinance prohibits chickens and other fowl from causing extreme nuisances such as repeated disturbance or sanitation issues. As long as residents are mindful of these regulations, they can enjoy the benefits of raising chickens in their backyard.

Lynn, MA

According to Lynn Police Department, it is illegal for any Lynn resident to keep chickens in his or her backyard without first obtaining a permit to do so. Roosters are expressly forbidden within the City limits of Lynn, Massachusetts. Furthermore, it is illegal for any person owning chickens in Lynn to permit or allow the same to roam freely within the city limits, as this may cause damage or annoyance to other residents.

New Bedford, MA

In New Bedford, Massachusetts, residents are allowed to keep chickens in their backyards without any restrictions on the number or type of birds. However, it is important to note that the city's animal ordinance (Sec. 4-4) prohibits chicken owners from allowing their birds to roam freely on the streets, public places, or sidewalks. By following this regulation, New Bedford chicken owners can enjoy raising their feathered friends while also being considerate of their neighbors and the community.

Town of Bedford, MA

The Town of Bedford allows residents to keep backyard chickens without a permit if they have less than seven. However, if you have more than seven chickens, you will need to obtain a permit from the Town's Board of Health. The Town has established minimum standards for keeping animals, including requiring chickens to be kept in a secure coop or fenced enclosure to prevent escape. Following these guidelines will ensure the safety and well-being of both the chickens and the community.

Fall River, MA

In the city of Fall River, Massachusetts, keeping chickens requires a permit which costs $50 to apply for and $100 to renew annually. However, roosters and cockerels are not allowed. The permit application includes providing information about the number and species of chickens, a plot plan, a management plan for the disposal of deceased chickens, manure management, storage of feed, and pest management. Clear hand-drawn plot plans are acceptable. Refer to the Regulation of the Fall River Board of Health for additional information.

Somerville, MA

If you're considering keeping backyard hens in Somerville, Massachusetts, it's important to know the regulations. A chicken license is required, even if you're not selling eggs, and you must reside at the property where the hens are kept. If you're a tenant, you'll need written permission from the property owner. No more than six hens are allowed per lot, and their noise must conform to the City's Noise Ordinance. Additionally, henhouses must be at least three feet from property lines and provide four square feet of permeable surface per hen, according to Somerville’s Urban Agriculture Ordinance. Following these regulations will help ensure a successful backyard chicken-keeping experience in the City of Somerville.

Other Massachusetts Municipalities

  • Framingham, MA: A Permit is not required to keep 6 chickens (hens only)
  • Haverhill, MA: A permit is required to keep 3 hens
  • Town of Brookline, MA: A permit is required to own 12 chickens (no roosters)
  • Taunton, MA: Chickens allowed under certain conditions
  • Revere, MA: A license is required to keep chickens
  • Weymouth Town, MA: A permit is required to keep hens
  • Chicopee, MA: A Livestock Permit is required to keep chickens
  • Peabody, MA: 6 to 15 hens allowed depending on lot size
  • Methuen, MA: No more than 6 chickens
  • Arlington, MA: A permit is required to keep up to 6 hens
  • Salem, MA: Coop must provide 4 square feet of space per 3 hens
  • Northampton, MA: 6 female chickens per household
  • Billerica, MA: A permit is required to keep a maximum of 6 hens
  • Town of North Andover, MA: 6 hens single-family residence
  • Town of Chelmsford, MA: 6 to 20 hens depending on lot size
  • Watertown, MA: A maximum of 6 hens under a permit
  • Randolph Town, MA: A permit is required to keep hens
  • Town of Franklin, MA: A permit is required to keep chickens
  • Falmouth, MA: Chickens allowed. No limit on the number
  • Town of Needham, MA: Allows no more than 4 backyard chickens
  • Dracut, MA: 1 chicken per 4,000 square feet of lot area

In conclusion, keeping backyard chickens is becoming increasingly popular in Massachusetts, with more and more cities and towns allowing residents to keep a small flock. While regulations and requirements vary from place to place, it is important for potential chicken owners to do their research and ensure they are following all local laws and guidelines. The benefits of keeping backyard chickens include fresh eggs and a closer connection to where food comes from. However, it is important to also consider the responsibilities and potential challenges that come with raising chickens, such as proper care and maintenance, as well as noise and odor concerns. Overall, with the right preparation and knowledge, keeping backyard chickens can be a rewarding experience for both the chickens and their owners.


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