No, You Can’t Have a Chicken. NOT YOURS

Yesterday, Shirley came over at breakfast talk about making magical QRcode real estate yard signs that let you find out how much the list price of the house is — and talk directly to the listing agent. She brought over a bunch of eggs gathered from her hens that morning, and I had to practically get out the six-pound sledge to crack them open. And the yolks were a really beautiful orange color. So naturally I’m now all excited about building a small coop in the back yard, to get ready for “Great Depression 2.0: California Drift”

I checked out some of the really awesome coop designs at, including this really great small “playhouse” coop:


Oh, BOY, that’s totally awesome! Look at the little door to get the eggs out! We decided we’d get four hens, and that each of us would get to name one. Lydia had already named hers “Hannah”, which is a great name for a hen. I was busy reading up on the many benefits of Diatomaceous Earth, and subscribing to The Allotment Lady‘s blog, which Kate reads regularly.

Now, we seem to remember hearing something about how West Chester Borough ordinances prohibit livestock, but permit pets. Let me just verify that we can kind of squeak through, here. After all, we’re not getting a rooster… AW NUTS!

Borough of West Chester Ordinances [1][205][213], adopted 1989::

ARTICLE I Keeping of Poultry and Hogs

§ 37-1. Purpose.
The purpose of this Article is to prevent nuisances arising from malodors, noises and health hazards caused by the presence of poultry or hogs or by the slaughter of poultry or hogs within the Borough of West Chester.

§ 37-2. Keeping and slaughtering prohibited; exception.
A. On and after the effective date hereof, no poultry or hogs shall be kept or slaughtered on any property located in the Borough of West Chester. Ha, ha, ha, PWNT! Sucker.
B. Licensed operators for commercial purposes shall be exempted.

Any person who violates or permits the violation of any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof in a summary proceeding brought before a District Justice, be guilty of a summary offense and shall be subject to the payment of a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $1,000, plus the costs of prosecution. Upon default of payment thereof, the defendant may be sentenced to imprisonment in the county prison for a period of not more than 30 days. And we’ll tape a picture of the chickens YOU CAN’T HAVE to the wall of your cell. Haw, haw, haw.


Crap. My choices now are to give up, get a commercial license, or become a member of the Urban Chicken Underground, and live the glamorous but secret life of a Chicken Criminal. Any suggestions?

UPDATE: Hmm, maybe this would be an excellent time to add “licensed poultry technician” to my long list of useless bona fides. That might satisfy the letter of the law. I’ve always wanted an excuse to bust out a Tackleberry: “Well, you see”, I’d say to the mean, humorless Chicken Confiscator, poking him right in his clip-on tie, “I’m a Licensed Poultry Operator, so these chickens are legal under local ordinance part II, Chapter 37, article I, section thirty-seven DASH two, paragraph B…” at which point he’d gnash his teeth and tear up the Chicken Confiscation Order, and the credits would roll. Maybe Hannah the Hen would flap up and lay an egg in his combover as a part of the extended blooper sequence.

I could pick up a carny license while I’m at it! Ooh, ooh, and a license that would let me sell ice-cream from my sidecar! Ice cream… MADE WITH FRESH EGGS?

4 responses to “No, You Can’t Have a Chicken. NOT YOURS”

  1. For the small price of several eggs a month and the right to name one chicken Foghorn – I will permit my backyard to be used for such chicken raising if the code allows. We can put it next to my future potato and turnip patch I’ve been planning for depression 2.0.


  2. I feel your pain. We also ran into the brick-wall of codes compliance in Coatesville, and the subsequent end of our chicken-raising dreams (for the time being anyway). The underground is not a viable option either- my nosy neighbors already disdain the jungle-like appearance of our gardens, and are looking for an excuse to report us.
    On the bright side, it offered a pretext for a long libertarian rant while driving my kids to school. “Really, the government can do that?!”


  3. This is when I get to say that Maine is ahead of West Chester Pee-Ay in at least one way.
    If you find a way around being PWNT by townies, look at !! My neighbors have a half dozen light brahmas, along with a rooster they named W in case they get too aggravated by hiss crowing and have to cook him. These chickens are a HOOT. Check out those FEETS!!!
    Come for a visit!


  4. No chickens? You can’t have chickens?
    In a HUGE state like yours you can’t have a few teeny weeny chickens.
    That is just not fair.
    It’s no good – you will just have to up sticks and move to Arkansas – they can have them there.


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