Backyard Chickens

Raising Chickens in Buffalo

HensThe care and keeping of chickens requires time and com­mitment. Before you start, know the City's requirements listed in the Backyard Chicken Flyer (PDF) or noted on this page.

Chickens require daily care, specific food, shelter and sanitation to ensure they stay healthy and happy for con­tinued egg production. Be aware of all the rules before securing your permit and purchasing your chickens. 

For reference, the Ordinance is an addition to Chapter 6, Sec­tion 6-9  Limited Keeping of Chickens.

Code Requirements

The ordinance requires that the owner of the chickens shall live in the dwelling on the property and the property owner is in receipt of the permit. The permit is valid through the end of the calendar year 12/31/2023 and must be renewed at the beginning of each calendar year. Go to our Online Portal to apply for your backyard chicken permit.

City Code Specifications:Apply for Permit Opens in new window

  • No more than four (4) female chickens                                           
  • No roosters
  • No slaughtering/processing on the property 

Chicken Eggs

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Chickens Shall be Kept Separate

Chickens are to be kept in a separate enclosed accessory building and fenced outdoor containment area.

The Coop

  • The "coop" shall be less than 40 square feet in size, no less than                 12 inches off the ground, and not in excess of 6 feet in height
  • Be fully enclosed
  • Shall comply with setbacks and other standards for accessory buildings - outside any drainage and utility easements and a minimum of 10 feet from any other structure
  • Located in the rear yard only, and at least 25 feet from adjacent habitual structures on neighboring properties
  • Chickens must remain in the coop from sunset to sunrise each day

The Fence

  • Must contain the coop
  • Must have rot resistant wood around the base of the perimeter to grev nt burrowing of predators
  • Must be screened from view from all neighboring peoperties and right-of-ways year round
  • Shall not exceed 20 square feet per bird
  • Cannot exceed 6 feet in height and be fully enclosed

About the Waste

Owners should be aware that birds can carry harmful germs that make people sick. Take precautions when handling poultry litter to avoid potential health risks. Chicken waste also carries many pathogens that can pollute public waters. The coop and surrounding area must be cleaned frequently and in a manner that will prevent the discharge of pollutants into stormwater runoff.

Feces, waste, and discarded feed shall be regularly col­lected and only stored temporarily on site in a leak-proof container with a tight-fitting cover to prevent nuisance odors and the attraction of vermin. Such waste shall not be composted on site but can be composted at the City of Buffalo composting facility or disposed of in a separate, tightly secured bag in the trash.

Regarding the City's compost facility, waste must be received in compostable bags. There is no "special" place for this waste, it simply gets added to the leaf or grass clippings piles and will naturally compost.

Proper disposal and/or composting will minimize fly breeding and wind induced pollutants from stored manure

Compostable bags

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Fire Safety with Backyard Chickens

  • Heat Lamps Chickens can get rowdy and knock lamps down, clamps can become loose, and lamps can be placed too close to flammable objects such as bedding for your flock.
  • Extension Cords The unsafe use of extension cords can be very dangerous. Overloading a cord or leaving cords exposed to the elements especially at connec­tion points is a recipe for disaster.
  • Flammable Bedding Straw and/or pine shavings are both excellent options for bedding but they are highly flammable. It is essential to manage them responsibly to minimize the hazard.
  • Heated Waterers These are excellent tools during the winter months and save time and energy breaking ice on frigid mornings. Any time electricity is a factor, can also be a fire hazard, especially outdoors.

Heat Lamp Safety

Chicks need a heat source until 6-10 weeks of age depending on the surrounding temperatures where they live. A common mistake made by owners is putting a heat lamp in the coop during the winter to keep the chickens warmer or boost light hours for egg production.

Typically, hens do not need extra warmth during the winter, unless you live in a particularly  cold climate (frequently below zero degrees Fahrenheit). There are safer heating options discussed later. If you are providing a heat light exposure for egg production, there are safer lights that can be purchased and put on a timer so light does not burn 24/7.

When using a heat lamp for your chicks, secure it and then double secure it! You can us something like a paracord to double secure your light. It's a good idea to suspend your heat lamp outside of the brooder with wire to cover over the brooder so that when the brooder is heated, chicks cannot bump the light around.

Heat Lamp Alternatives

Heating plates are a much safer alternative to heat lamps. While heat plates may be more expensive than heat lamps, they are built to last. An additional bonus is you won't have bulbs to replace. Most heat plates come with adjustable legs so that you can raise the plate as your chicks grow. Heat plates are more soothing to chicks as they simulate the warmth of a mother without the bright light.