San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 31st, 2009
Proposal would allow chickens on every lot


When he heard about San Marcos’ new animal ordinance and its restrictions on keeping livestock and birds in the city limits, Matt Akins quickly knew he’d run afoul of the law.

“I looked out my window and said, ‘Oh no,'” said Akins, who keeps four hens in the backyard of his Harvey Street home.

As it is currently written, the ordinance that takes effect on Wednesday prohibits residents from keeping livestock and fowl within 100 feet of a neighbor’s dwellings or within 500 feet of foot service establishments, except in pastures of more than one acre. Akin’s nearest neighbors are well within that range.

“It’s definitely a ridiculous rule. I assume it has to do with noise and in that case it’s a rooster problem, not a hen problem. You can’t hear hens, they’re as quiet as cats,” Akins said.

While critics of the animal ordinance have focused almost entirely on the provision that requires dog and cat owners inject their pet with an identifying microchip, the chicken ban has also drawn the attention of city dwellers who depend on the animals for eggs.

Along with repealing the microchip provision and a ban on selling pets in parking lots and roadside, the city council is scheduled today to consider changes to the ordinance that include an amendment that would allow residents to keep up to eight hens while still prohibiting roosters.

Without the exception for hens, Akins said, “Come April 1, I’ll be eating illegal eggs and they’ll definitely taste better.”



Proposed changes to animal ordinance [pdf]

Letter from Animal Shelter Advisory Board [pdf]

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5 thoughts on “Proposal would allow chickens on every lot

  1. Wow. I don’t know how I overlooked that. I had heard that the ordinance allowed for a handful of hens. I quickly glanced at the ordinance on the city website, saw:

    Sec. 6.116 Maximum number of fowl allowed.
    It shall be unlawful for any person to harbor more than eight (8) fowl over the age of one (1) month, except in an area zoned for agricultural use.

    and moved on, mistakenly thinking I had verified that bit of information.

    We’ve talked about getting hens and I know I currently have neighbors with hens and roosters and have had many more with them in the past. This is not a particularly affluent city. I would be hesitant to guess how many families have chickens. I imagine there are a lot of them.

    I certainly hope this part of the ordinance gets updated.

  2. my wife and i are retired. we raise chickens and have a year round garden and fruit and citrus trees. we are on a fixed income. so, the city council wants us to be more dependent on factory stores in this time of economic turmoil. the council has nothing better to do? more rules and regulations require more enforcement and the hiring of more people and fewer freedoms for citizens. chicken police?

  3. yeap i argued with animal control about chickens and goats, these idiots! sited me all sorts of reasons these animals can harm people, i went on and said well what about dogs, there pop is worse they tear up stuff and attack people don’t they set a worse standard,. i think they will get around to it, watch out its the Safty Nazi! , i think that the only way to get rid of them is not to pay them! or pass social programs like taggin all animals, Great,!

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