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Chesterfield’s Backyard Chicken Rules Poised for Update

Chesterfield planning commissioners are talking about updating the code around keeping chickens in residential backyards, based on recommendations from the Virginia Cooperative Extension. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Chesterfield adopted zoning regulations around keeping chickens in residential backyards in 2014. Those include the number of chickens allowed -- it’s six -- to the number of roosters allowed--which is zero.

Now planning commissioners are talking about updating the code, based on recommendations from the Virginia Cooperative Extension, which is a joint-effort between Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. The changes relate to the size of outdoor chicken runs. 

The goal of the updated amendment is to benefit the health and safety of the chickens and to minimize any impacts on neighbors. 

Or as zoning administrator Ray Cash said at a work session Tuesday: “Quite simply, increasing the area of the fenced outdoor run by approximately 16 square feet, making sure the area per chicken is eight square feet.” 

According to officials, should the Planning Commission decide to update the zoning ordinance, Virginia law allows them to do so “when required by public necessity, convenience, general welfare or good zoning practice.”

A public hearing on the proposed code amendment is set for August 17 after that it’ll head to the Board of Supervisors for another public hearing and a vote.

Current Zoning Ordinance Guidelines Around the Keeping of Chickens in Residential Neighborhoods* 

  • Use is limited to the keeping of a maximum of 6 chickens and does not include roosters;
  • At all times, chickens are kept within a single building having a single attached fenced outside run as follows:

    • building is a minimum of 10 square feet and a maximum of 20 square feet;
    • fenced outside run area is a maximum of 40 square feet (If changes are approved would change to 56 square feet) and has a minimum area of 5 square feet (If changes are approved, would change to 8 square feet) per chicken; 
    • and fenced outside run area is securely enclosed on the top and sides with a wire mesh or similar material;
    • Building and attached outside run area are located in the rear yard and set back 25 feet from all property lines;
    • Slaughtering of chickens does not occur;
    • Areas associated with keeping chickens are cleaned and made free of waste on a regular basis. Waste is disposed of in an appropriate waste disposal container that is periodically removed from the site; and
    • Property owner employs an effective means of eliminating odor problems and propagation of insects related to use.


*This includes residential districts, subdivisions and certain manufactured homes, which are: R-88, R-40, R-25, R-15, R-12, R-9, R-7, MH-2, MH-3 Districts: R-C District: (Conservation Subdivision (R-C Districts) R-C is also a single family residential district.


Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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