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City of Milwaukee Now Allows Chicken Coops

What chickens are allowed?

As of July 28, 2011 residents in the City of Milwaukee will be allowed to keep chickens with the following provisions.

  • The keeping of up to 4 chickens, with a permit is allowed on a residential premise only. Permits will not be allowed on commercial or mixed-use occupancies. 
  • Roosters are not allowed. 
  • No person shall slaughter any chickens.

Coop location and design

  • Chicken coops shall be constructed in a workmanlike manner, be moisture resistant, and either raised off the ground or placed on a hard surface such as concrete, patio block or gravel.
  • Chicken coops and yards shall be constructed so they will not have standing water.
  • Chicken coops shall be cleaned of hen droppings, uneaten feed, feathers and other waste daily and as necessary to ensure a health, odor or other nuisance does not exist.
  • Chicken coops and yards together shall be large enough to provide at least 16 square feet per chicken. Fenced enclosure space can be added to the coop space to add up to the minimum number of square feet. Coops cannot be taller than 10 feet. Coops cannot exceed 50 sq. ft.
  • Enclosures shall not be closer than 25 feet to any residential structure on an adjacent lot. Enclosures shall not be located in the front yard of a dwelling.

Care for the chickens

  • Chickens shall be provided with fresh water at all times and adequate amounts of feed.
  • Chickens shall be provided with a sanitary and adequately-sized, covered enclosure, or coop, and shall be kept in the enclosure or a sanitary and adequately-sized and fenced enclosure, or yard, at all times. Chicken coops and enclosures may not be homes or garages.

DNS intervention or inspections

  • An inspection of the proposed chicken keeping site will not be conducted by the Department of Neighborhood Services as part of the permitting process. DNS will inspect and determine compliance with the ordinance on a complaint basis or if it believes a violation may be occurring. DNS may take enforcement action it deems appropriate if violations are noted.
  • DNS will answer questions about the permitting process and the ordinance it is charged with enforcing. To inquire about the permitting process, one may contact Marcie Otto at (414) 286-3280.
  • DNS will not offer advice or provide suggestions regarding the practice of keeping chickens. For example, DNS will not suggest how to build a chicken coop or enclosure nor advise on where to acquire knowledge related to chicken keeping.

Problems with chickens to be reported

  • Chickens shall not cause any nuisance, unhealthy condition, public health threat or otherwise interfere with the normal use of property or enjoyment of life by humans or animals. 
  • Unusual illness or death of chickens shall be reported to the Health Department.
  • A permit may be revoked for failure to comply with provisions of the ordinance and, once revoked, shall not be reissued.

How to apply for a permit to keep chickens in Milwaukee

  1. Complete an approved site plan (DNS-363) to the satisfaction of the department. Blank site plans (DNS-362) are available from DNS at 4001 S. 6th St., 2nd floor.  (See Sample Site Plan below plan to send to DNS)
  2. Complete a Neighbor Approval Statement Form from every neighbor required per the ordinance. Blank neighbor approval forms are also available from DNS. DNS strongly recommends that neighboring property owners be provided with a copy of this brochure (DNS-361) when requesting approval.
  3. Present both forms (DNS-362 & DNS-363) and a check or money order payable to “City of Milwaukee” for $35.49* (one time fee) to the clerk at the Department of Neighborhood Services, 4001 S. 6th St., 2nd floor for review (this office does not accept cash as payment). Applicants may apply for permits Monday through Friday, 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.. Approval by the department is contingent on a review for completeness and compliance with the ordinance. The approval may be made over the counter (time permitting) and the permit given to the applicant or the permit needs more time to review, may be mailed to the applicant, if approved.

*fee-This fee includes a 1.4% Training and Technology surcharge.

Still Have Questions?

Any questions regarding this process should be directed to the Department of Neighborhood Services, Residential Enforcement Section-Animals at 414-286-5771.

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Residential Section-Animals
4001 S 6th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53221

(414) 286-5771

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Chicken Keeping Information/Forms

Chicken Coop Brochure DNS-361.pdf  - This brochure contains all the information about how to apply, what chickens can be raised, the conditions of their care, and who must sign-off their approval near the chicken coop. 

Chicken Coop Site Plan Form DNS-362.pdf - This is form that must be completed by those wishing to obtain a chicken coop permit in the City of Milwaukee.

Chicken Coop Site Plan Sample DNS-362.pdf - Here is a sample of a diagram needed to be filed with the department when applying for a permit to keep chickens.

Chicken Coop Neighbor Approval Form DNS-363.pdf - This is the application that must be completed and brought to the DNS offices to apply for a permit to keep chickens.