[A] pastoral tableau has become more common in yards across the city as sustainability-minded residents capitalize on Chicago’s live-and-let-live approach to urban farming. [However] an ordinance introduced last month would ban roosters from residential areas in Chicago and allow a household to keep no more than six hens and two livestock animals, defined as four-legged farm creatures such as pigs, sheep and goats.

A $25 annual livestock permit from the city’s Health Department would be required of each household keeping farm animals, and only single-family homes and two-flats would be eligible. Applicants would have to inform all neighbors within 500 feet of their plans, and a permit would be rejected if a majority objects.

Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th, who co-sponsored the ordinance with Ald. Anthony Napolitano, 41st, said the proposed law is a response to the “growing presence” of livestock1  in city neighborhoods.

“This ordinance starts from an affirmative standpoint giving residents (the) ability to have a voice on whether or not they want farm animals in their own communities,” Lopez said in an emailed response to questions.


  • 1. Lawmakers in 2007 tried to ban chickens from Chicago’s residential areas, citing concerns about stench and rodents, but chicken lovers across the city mobilized to defeat the proposal. Meanwhile, other municipalities responded to the rising interest in urban farming by loosening restrictions. Evanston in 2010 lifted its chicken ban to allow up to six hens, but no roosters.

    The pro-chicken lobby in Chicago is rallying again, arguing that the city’s general animal welfare and noise and nuisance laws, which include a ban on cockfighting and fines for excessive noise, already address issues that might arise.