While no Florida state laws addressing raising chickens as a hobby, backyard poultry enthusiasts can look to their local county or city ordinances for guidance. Each municipality makes its own laws about keeping the birds, and where you live dictates if you can have roosters, the number of birds you can have and where you may keep them.
State's Most Chicken Friendly Places
Visitors to Oviedo, sometimes head to the town just to see and feed the chickens roaming the streets of downtown. The town has no ordinances about keeping chickens and both roosters and hens are part of the fabric of chicken society. Key West provides another haven for chickens. Feral birds roam the streets by the thousands on the island that's 2 miles long and 4 miles wide. While neither Oviedo nor Key West restrict chickens, they're not protected either. Should you let your chickens run loose, they'll be up against traffic, dogs and other dangers. They may even get trapped by neighbors wishing to relocate nuisance birds.
Many other localities throughout the state restrict your flock to hens only unless you live on property zoned as agricultural. The size of the flock you may keep varies as well. In Jacksonville, you can have up to five hens as long as you get a chicken permit first. Residents of Manatee County may have up to 12 hens while residents of the city of Bonita Springs may only have four. The law doesn't apply if you live in a community with a homeowner's association or deed restrictions, however. Be sure to check with your home owner's association as well as your local government for chicken laws where you live.
Where You Keep Them
While it's tempting to situate your coop close to the house where you can easily feed them, collect eggs and keep an eye on them, each municipality has laws dictating how close to a residential structure they may be. In Bonita Springs, coops may be as close as 20 feet to your house or other residential structure. The town is one of many that require chickens be inside a coop or other secure enclosure 24 hours per day. Mobile coops -- such as chicken tractors -- fulfill the spirit of the law. In Miami, a chicken on the loose might get picked up by the city's Chicken Busters, a task force that removes and relocates fowl from city streets.
What You Do to Them
More laws deal with the humane treatment of chickens. In Pensacola, it's against the law to slaughter a chicken for meat or kill it for any reason other than medical necessity or public health. Chicks dyed every color of the rainbow make a hit on Easter morning, but they are against the law in municipalities such as Miami-Dade County. Florida state law prohibits raising birds for fighting or baiting other animals. State anti-cruelty laws also prohibit neglecting or abusing animals in any way.
To find specific laws in your area of Florida, consult Municode's online library of local Florida laws.
Indulging her passion for vacation vagary through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, travel funster Jodi Thornton-O'Connell guides readers to the unexpected, quirky, and awe-inspiring.