Cities That Allow Backyard Chickens in Wisconsin

In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards sustainability and self-sufficiency among urban dwellers in the state of Wisconsin. As a result, several cities in the Badger State have taken proactive measures to allow their residents to keep backyard chickens.

Madison, Milwaukee, and Racine are leading the way in this movement by enacting ordinances that permit the raising of chickens within city limits. These cities recognize the multitude of benefits that backyard chickens bring to their communities, such as fresh eggs, organic pest control, and educational opportunities for children.

However, it is worth noting that these municipalities have set clear guidelines and regulations to ensure responsible chicken ownership. A maximum number of hens allowed per household, restrictions on roosters due to noise concerns, and proper coop maintenance requirements are among the rules put in place.

While some Wisconsin cities recognize the benefits of urban poultry farming and permit residents to keep chickens in their backyards, others have implemented restrictions or outright bans on this practice. The City of West Allis, for example, does not currently allow the keeping of chickens within its limits.

Consequently, as a potential urban chicken keeper in Wisconsin, you need to conduct thorough research beforehand concerning local rules to ensure compliance with your municipality's regulations.

red hens

Below are a few Wisconsin municipalities that allow their residents to have backyard chickens.

Milwaukee. WI

In the city of Milwaukee, residents are required to apply for and obtain a $35 permit before keeping a limited number of chickens in their backyards. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee residents can keep up to four female chickens on a residential property after obtaining a permit. However, prior to the issuance of the permit, the Department of Neighborhood Services will duly notify adjacent properties, affording them the opportunity to express any concerns they may have.

Madison, WI

Madison residents desiring to have backyard chickens are required to obtain a $10 Chicken License to do so. Additionally, potential urban chicken keepers must inform neighboring property owners about their intention to keep chickens.

However, if you own a single-family home that you occupy, no notification is required. On the other hand, if your property is a two-, three-, or four-family home, you must notify both the property owner and all residents living in the various dwelling units.

Under the Chicken License, the keeping of up to four chickens is permitted as an ancillary use on lots with up to four dwelling units. However, the keeping of roosters is strictly prohibited, as is the on-site slaughtering of chickens. Chicken enclosures must be situated at a minimum distance of 25 feet from any residential structure on an adjacent lot.

Green Bay, WI

Any person desiring to keep backyard chickens in the city of Green Bay needs to obtain a $5 license from the City Clerk. The license allows you to keep up to four chickens (no roosters) in your backyard. Failure to license your chickens may result in a fine of $25-$200.

Kenosha, WI

Kenosha residents may not keep chickens without first obtaining an annual license from the Common Council. The license fee for keeping backyard chickens in Kenosha, WI, is $200. The license must be obtained before January 1st of each year or within 30 days prior to acquiring the chickens.

Prior to the issuance of a license, applicants' neighbors would be notified so they can express any concerns they may have. The license allows only single-family dwellings to have up to 4 chickens in a backyard coop, which must not be located within 25 feet of any residential structure.

Racine, WI

The city of Racine permits the keeping of chickens exclusively on single-family residential properties. Chickens are strictly prohibited from being kept at mobile homes, condominiums, apartment complexes, duplexes, or any other multiple-family properties within the city. Furthermore, there is a maximum limit of four chickens that can be kept on any residential property. It is strictly forbidden to keep roosters.

In order to ensure the well-being of the chickens, the city code requires that chicken coops provide a minimum of three square feet of space per bird and be maintained in a tidy and sanitary condition at all times.

It is worth noting that a $55 Chicken Permit is required to keep chickens in Racine, WI. In addition, an $80 building permit must also be obtained from the Building Department.

Appleton, WI

In order to keep chickens within the City of Appleton, residents must acquire an annual permit from the Health Department. This permit allows for the keeping of up to six chickens, but only on single-family or two-family dwellings. Permits will not be granted for commercial or mixed-use occupancies. If you are not the property owner, written permission from the property owner is required.

Chicken coops and runs must be located 3 feet from side and rear yard lot lines, 10 feet from any structure of the parcel, and 20 feet from a residential dwelling, church, school or business on an abutting lot.

Waukesha, WI

A permit is required to keep backyard chickens in the city of Waukesha, WI. Only one permit will be issued for a parcel, regardless of how many dwelling units are on the parcel. Permits may be issued for non-owner-occupied parcels only with the written permission of the owners of the parcel.

However, permits will not be issued for parcels with duplex or multiple-family dwellings. The permit allows for the keeping of up to 4 female chickens per parcel and up to 6 female chickens if the parcel is greater than one acre in area.

Eau Claire, WI

The City of Eau Claire enacted an ordinance in 2019, allowing residents to apply for a license to keep up to 5 chickens or quails on their residential property. However, only female chickens (hens) are allowed to be kept and the keeping of drakes (male ducks) is also prohibited in Eau Claire.

The City Ordinance requires that backyard coops be located 10 feet from property lines, 25 feet from residential structures on adjacent lots, and 5 feet from any structure on your own property.

Other Wisconsin Municipalities That Allow Backyard Chickens

  • Oshkosh, WI: A Permit is required to keep chickens or ducks
  • Janesville, WI: A residential chicken premises permit is required
  • La Crosse, WI: A license is required to own 5 hens
  • Sheboygan, WI: Chickens must be kept in a sanitary condition
  • Wauwatosa, WI: Up to 4 licensed chickens are allowed per property
  • Fond du Lac, WI: A chicken-keeping permit is required to keep 4 hens
  • New Berlin, WI: Up 4 chickens or ducks allowed per single-family dwelling
  • Wausau, WI: No more than 4 hens allowed per premises
  • Sun Prairie, WI: A Chicken License is required to keep chickens
  • Beloit, WI: A maximum of 4 chickens allowed with a permit
  • Oak Creek, WI: No more than 10 chickens or ducks per acre
  • Manitowoc, WI: A chicken-keeping permit must be obtained for the City Clerk
  • West Bend, WI: A Chicken License is required
  • Neenah, WI: Chickens are allowed on single-family properties only
  • Stevens Point, WI: A special permit is required to keep hens or ducks
  • De Pere, WI: A permit is required to keep no more than 4 hens
  • Mequon, WI: Chickens are permitted on lots of 1.5 acres or greater
  • Muskego, WI: 2.75 acres of land is required to keep chickens


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