NOTE that Denver Urban Homesteading sells organic chicken feed, organic goat feed and chicken coops.  We host monthly chicken swaps where you can buy and sell chickens, rabbits and goats.


FREE THE CHICKENS! was created because of the belief that Denver residents should have the right to own chickens.  Denver has a 50 year-old law that bans chickens in some areas and allows them in others, but only after a very complicated permitting procedure and payment of $150 for a one-year permit.  The law was made when Denver was trying to shed its cowtown image by banning large, poorly-kept chicken farms.  Times have changed, and backyard farmers who want fresh eggs for themselves and for their families have replaced the chicken farms of several generations ago.  We think that every Denver property owner or tenant should be able to have up to six chickens.  We are not advocating roosters.

Female chickens, or hens, are quiet and only cluck for a few minutes after they lay an egg.  (Roosters are not needed for this process: hens produce eggs as do other birds and mammals regardless of whether such eggs are fertilized.)  Their waste makes excellent fertilizer, and with 1-6 chickens it rarely smells with even semi-routine cleaning of their coops, especially if the coop has a bed of hay, clippings, wood chips, etc.

We want chickens because:

·             They produce food which is a bonus especially during times of economic uncertainty, and which is especially helpful to low-income families and those who live in "food deserts".

·               They are good for the environment.  Essentially small biorefineries, chickens take in kitchen scraps and garden wastes, producing eggs and fertilizer.

·                They make great pets, are entertaining to watch, and help bring families and neighbors together.

·            They teach children where food comes from, and taking care of them teaches the children responsibility and that there are valuable things in life other than IPODs, text messaging, internet chats, video get the idea.

·            Virtually all of the eggs at supermarkets are from chickens that spend their entire lives in tiny boxes, never seeing the light of day until their egg production begins to decline and they are slaughtered.  Backyard chickens live much better lives than factory chickens and animal welfare is advanced.

·               To make our elementary schools legal and to encourage them to continue their great teaching.  We’re aware that a number of public and private elementary schools in Denver raise chicks in the classroom, and one second grade teacher told us that “it is the most significant educational event the kids have all year.”  While a few get permits, most don’t.  It is an absurdity that these schools are in violation of the law for going the extra mile to educate our young ones.

In Colorado one can have chickens without a permit in Lakewood, Englewood, Boulder, Longmont, Ft. Collins, Colorado Springs, Centennial, Littleton, etc.  Nationally one can have chickens without a permit in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, etc.

Denver law currently allows people to own an unlimited numbers of snakes, an unlimited number of rats, and up to 25 pigeons without permits.


Our goal is to change Denver’s zoning ordinance by removing the requirement for a permit for up to six chickens, no roosters.  We have worked to convince our representatives at City Council to change the law for nearly two years when a campaign was initiated in February 2009 under the name Denver Backyard Farms to do this.  But we have been unsuccessful. 

Meanwhile two polls were taken.  Denver City Councilwoman Carla Madison conducted an internet poll and 80% of the respondents were in favor of three chickens without a permit.  Denver City Councilwoman Jeanne Robb conducted an internet poll and 60% of the respondents were in favor of six chickens without a permit.  We think six chickens is reasonable and likely to be acceptable to a majority of Denver voters.

Therefore, we have begun an initiative process to change the law.  We are exercising our democratic rights to seek to change the law via the ballot box because our elected representatives have not done it for us.  (Our supporters in City Council have urgent demands placed on them and they have not dealt with this issue.  We bear them no grudge for this; we simply have different priorities.)


You can sign the petition to get this question on the ballot.  If we get enough signatures quickly, this will be on the November 2011 ballot.  The initiative title is:

Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver adopt an Initiated Ordinance to allow the keeping of up to six chickens - but no roosters - as an accessory use to either a residential use or an urban garden use, regardless of whether the urban garden use is a primary or accessory use in nature, without having to obtain any special permit or be subject to the Animal Keeping Exception requirements of the zoning ordinance.

You can sign at any of the following locations:

DENVER URBAN HOMESTEADING, 200 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80223 HOURS: Wed, Thurs, Fri 1-6, Saturday 9-2

YELLOW FEATHER COFFEE, 742 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO

FANCY TIGER CRAFTS, 1 S Broadway, Denver

MERCURY CAFE, 2199 California Street, Denver


 You can also volunteer.  We need volunteers to:

*  Get petitions signed.  You can be an individual who is willing to get petitions signed in public places or at events, or a business/organization that can get them signed at your place of business.  (Only Denver registered voters can sign the petition, however.)

*  Help us organize the volunteers.



Since we ruffled the City's feathers with our pro-chicken campaign, they claim they are now serious about passing a law to allow chickens, and unfortunately to ban slaughtering.  Even though chicken owners have slaughtered their chickens for centuries and still do it today all over the world, this necessary activity may soon be prohibited here even though there are no issues with it.  And chicken owners will become outlaws when they dispatch their birds.  If Denver bans slaughtering, its citizens will become even more reliant on the industrial-agricultural complex.



What's  New


Key Milestones

  • Initiative language filed with City for review and approval.  Nov 30, 2010
  • Initiative language settled on December 17, 2010
  • Initiative advances to City Clerk for approval on December 22, 2010.
  • Petitions approved for signing as of December 27, 2010.

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Last updated: 12/13/10.