Channel 7, June 4, 2010   Denver Daily News, June 3, 2010   Face The State, June 3, 2010

The Atlantic Monthly, The Future of the City, May 21, 2010

Westword, March 6, 2009  Westword, May 12,2009 Westword, April 29, 2009

This website was created to campaign to change the chicken law in Denver.  The campaign succeeded and the law was changed in June

2011 to allow chickens and goats  For details on the current law click here: http://www.denverurbanhomesteading.com/new_page_3.htm



Current Permitting Process
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What We Believe

Our laws change over time to reflect the wishes of Denver residents. The belief held by many on City Council (the elected representative who make our laws) is that there "really isn't a lot of support" for changing our laws to allow food-producing animals in the city. Let's show them that they're wrong! We need to demonstrate that there is a significant amount of support for city chickens, goats, and other food-producing animals. Our City Councilmembers are elected to their jobs, and they want to keep their constituents happy.

There are 12 Denver City Councilmembers.  Ten represent districts of the city, and two are AT-LARGE which means they represent the entire city.  These people need to hear from you!  Send your representative and the two AT-LARGE representatives a letter, an email or call them.  If possible, give them your address so that they know you are really in their district.  Get other chicken/goat/duck supporters to contact them.  If you are going to an event that one of them attends, express your feelings to them.  If enough people do this, we can change this law.

How to find your City Council representative?  Easy.  Go to www.denvergov.org and in the lower left corner is a box entitled DENVER MAPS.  LOCATE IT.  Find city services near your home or office.”  Just type in your address, scroll half-way down to “Council District” and get the contact info for your councilmember.  And to find the two AT-LARGE councilmembers go here and scroll to the bottom:


If you really want to become engaged, arrange for a meeting with your councilmember and ask us to join you!

For an example of a great letter, here is one written by Steven Pilon to his councilwoman, Judy Montero:

Judy Montero                                                                                                                June 10, 2009

Denver City Council – District 9

3457 Ringsby Ct, suite 215

Denver, CO 80216

 Dear Councilwoman Montero:

I am writing to you to ask you to support a change in the Denver code that will allow Denver residents the right to have and maintain chickens on their private property.

 I am not asking you to support this change for my benefit (I am already permitted) but for the many others I know in my own neighborhood who would love to have some laying hens but who do not want to try and navigate Denver’s permitting process – a process that is anything but easy and cheap.  For instance, consider my experience.

 Last year I decided that good, healthy eggs and commercial factory production do not always go hand-in-hand. As a result I decided I wanted to raise some cage-free hens for the good eggs I knew they could produce.

 To get the job done I researched Denver’s code on municode.com. Once I knew what the code was I went to the Webb Building and spoke to someone in Neighborhood Services. She told me they knew nothing about chicken permits and that I would have to go to Zoning. 

I went to Zoning and the first person I spoke with told me that if I wanted chickens I should move to Fort Collins. He then told me to go across the hall to talk to the zoning people over there. I did as he said and spoke to another Zoning employee.

 He told me that he did not think Denver allowed chickens. I showed him the code and he asked another fellow working at another part of the counter what he knew about chicken permits. That employee said, ‘you can’t have chickens in Denver’. The clerk I was working with shot back with, ‘oh yes you can, its right here in the code.’

 He then had me fill out an administrative review form and sent me to the cashier. I paid the $150.00 (I believe) and took the receipt back to him. He then sent me to Environmental Health to find out what their requirements were.

 Environmental Health told me they had no requirements but perhaps Animal Control did. I went back to Zoning and told the clerk everything I was told. I was then given a pink sign to put on my front yard and told to call Animal Control.

 I went home, put the sign on my yard, and called Animal Control. I explained to the person I spoke with what I was doing, what I had already done, and asked what they needed to do. I was given a case number and told someone would contact me within twenty-four hours.

 After twenty-four hours had come and gone I called Animal Control again, spoke to a different person, and was told they would do nothing until I had sent a written request to their Manager requesting his permission to have chickens. I sent the letter the following day.

 After 30-days (I believe) Zoning called and said my request had been approved. I returned to Zoning and was given some paperwork (use permit) to take to the Clerk Recorder’s office for filing. I went there and paid an additional fee for the recording. I then returned to Zoning with the receipt and was given a green sign to put on my lawn for two weeks. A representative from Animal Control showed up a few days later to inspect my chicken coop.

 While I ultimately received what I was looking for, and while most of the City employees I dealt with were polite and as helpful as they could be, it was apparent that we were all travelling unknown territory together.

 I believe the code needs to be changed because not only is it cumbersome and expensive, but it is also unfair. In Denver a resident does not need to seek the City’s or their neighbor’s permission to have up to three dogs and/or five cats. When many of them go to work their dogs are put outside and they bark on and off all day long and their cats roam their neighbor’s yards.

 Some are good about cleaning their yards and others are not. In my own neighborhood sometimes you can smell the rich aroma of dog poop coming from a yard that gets cleaned only occasionally. Often you get to clean up your neighbor’s dog droppings from your front yard where they have been allowed to go.

 As far as cats are concerned I have trapped and taken, within the last couple of months, eight large, mean feral cats to the Denver Municipal Shelter. Why, because, my old 17-year old cat is on a leash in our yard and I don’t want her hurt. Often we get treated to a good cat fight late at night. These feral cats were ultimately the result of someone not spaying or neutering their domestic cat(s).

 Now, if Denver residents can impact the lives of all their neighbors by owning up to three dogs and five cats, without asking permission, why should others have to endure an expensive and time-consuming permitting process, where your neighbors can veto your request, when laying hens make virtually no noise, consume a lot of bugs, and provide something beneficial besides noise and poop?

 As indicated before I have at least two neighbors who would like to own a few laying hens but who do not want to go through the permitting process. At the same time five of my closest neighbors would like eggs from my chickens and are always asking to come over and see them; indicating that many Denver residents are not anti-chickens.

 I think that you will find that if the City Council votes to amend the code to allow residents the right to have a maximum of eight hens (that’s what you need for egg sharing) without having to go through a permitting process, you’ll find that you’ll have the same result as when you allowed Denver residents to have up to two honey bee hives on the last 1/3rd of their property.

 Have you had any major complaints? To the best of my knowledge there has been no uproar. As a matter of fact I took advantage of the change in the code (I eat honey every day @ breakfast) and have one honey bee hive.

 I can tell you that I have never been stung, they have never bothered any of my neighbors, and most of my neighbors have asked for honey when it becomes available (around August), or for tours of the hive.

 Now, while I would like you to support a change in the Denver Code for the sake of all Denver residents I believe there are several other reasons why you should consider a code change. 

1.       90% of the chickens sold commercially are factory-raised cross varieties. For instance, the chicken you buy in the store is predominantly a Cornish-Plymouth Rock cross. It has been genetically modified to use less food and to put on enough weight to be slaughtered in 8 weeks. Many of them grow so fast they lay in their own waste because their legs will not support them. If they are kept beyond one year they often die of heart failure because their hearts cannot keep up with the rapid body changes taking place. It has been stated that “if a human baby grew as quickly as a five-week factory fryer, he would weigh 349 pounds by age 2, a University of Arkansas study found.” (Tracy Cone, AP)

2.       Nearly 100% of the eggs purchased in the store come from White Leghorns. These chickens are kept in 12’ x 12” cages and fed only a factory ration with just the right amount of nutrients to produce eggs. They are given no greens, no access to grass, pasture, etc, and are not able to socialize with other chickens. As a result of these things factory egg layers produce eggs that are higher in cholesterol, higher in saturated fats, lower in vitamin A, lower in vitamin E, lower in omega-3 fatty acids, and lower in beta carotene.

3.       Should a terrible disease strike America’s chicken population it would destroy it in short order because there is no genetic variety – everything is the same. Should the Nation’s chicken population suffer a terrible disease epidemic it will only be saved by backyard flocks because most of them are old breeds, they have a great gene pool, and many of them would survive the disease – but the factory-modified birds wouldn’t.

 Because of these things people across the nation are lobbying for the right to have chickens in urban areas. They want eggs that are produced ethically by chickens that are content and happy. They want eggs that are healthy and which have:

 1.       1/3rd less cholesterol

2.       ¼ less saturated fat

3.       2/3 more vitamin A

4.       2 times more omega-3 fatty acids

5.       3 times more vitamin E

6.       7 times more beta carotene

 And finally, not only do chickens provide us with good things, but they are social creatures that enjoy being around people, enjoy being petted, and which provide endless hours of entertainment as you watch them chase bugs, or another chicken that has found a bug.

 Chickens blend in to the urban environment quite well and I would invite you to come to my home if you would like to see just how well they do blend in. Thank you for your time and for any help you might be willing to lend. 


Stephen Pilon




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Last updated: 01/19/12.