Lawmakers working to hatch plan allowing backyard chickens across Wisconsin

If the bill is passed, all municipalities in Wisconsin would allow up to four chickens, ducks, geese, or other fowl on residential property.
Posted at 10:57 AM, Jan 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-05 11:57:50-05

Wisconsin lawmakers are working to pass a bill about backyard chickens.

The bill was introduced in November. It would make it so all municipalities in Wisconsin would have to allow up to four chickens, ducks, geese, or other fowl on residential property.

“Sometimes, making something into a law allows there to be more education and control over it,” Tina Hardy Maz explained.

Tucked on Milwaukee’s east side, Max has owned chickens in her backyard for nearly a decade.

Across the state, each community currently decides its own rules on owning chickens.

In Milwaukee, the city allows a resident to keep up to four chickens with a permit on a residential site. Cities like Kenosha and Racine also allow four.

“It started very practical in that I wanted chickens and I wanted the connection to where my food comes from,” Maz said. “Now, I love what they bring and I love seeing the joy in other people.”

Just 30 minutes south in Franklin, it’s a different story. Their policy allows a resident to own chickens with a permit only if they have three or more acres of land.

For years, a group called Backyard Chickens Franklin has advocated for backyard chickens. A member of the group on Facebook said they never brought it to the Franklin board, in part, due to the pandemic.

The bill is currently in the Assembly Committee on Sporting Heritage.

“I’m hopeful it will make a process for people to get permitted because that opens up an avenue for education and sharing knowledge,” Maz explained. “The city can be there to make sure it’s thought out so it’s healthy and does not disturb neighbors.”

While local government couldn’t ban the possession of fowl, they could require residents to obtain a permit, notify neighbors, or prohibit the keeping of roosters.

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Lena Taylor and Rachael Cabral-Guevara, but neither responded to a request for comment or a timeline for the future of the bill before the deadline for this story.