Ithaca Legalizes Backyard Chickens

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – Backyard chickens are coming to Ithaca. On Wednesday, the City’s Common Council finalized an ordinance that allows residents to own the birds.

Monika Roth said the ordinance is the result of several years of research and a two year pilot program.  Roth, an Agriculture Educator with Tompkins County Cooperative Extension, teaches a required course to folks seeking a chicken permit from Ithaca.

One of Jonah McDonald’s chickens at his Atlanta home. McDonald teaches about chickens at an Atlanta school and says he always advises students to wash their hands after handling chickens. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

“It goes through the ordinance,” she said, “and then the next thing is the different breeds, then we cover a little bit of the housing requirements and feed requirements and a little bit on health and sanitation.”

Roth said taking the one hour class makes some people realize that having chickens isn’t for them.

“It’s not like a cat and a dog.” She said, “It’s much higher level, they have different needs. It is a level of responsibility people need to be willing to take on to be successful and to be fair to the chickens.”

The ordinance would only allow for hens. No roosters!  Only six per household will be allowed, a property must be at least 2,000 square feet and there are other requirements for the chickens shelter and regular inspections.