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Livestock and Other Farm Animals

This page provides a general overview on the regulation of livestock and other farm animals in Washington State, including local code examples.


The keeping of farm animals is generally regulated under zoning, including the number and kinds allowed in urban areas. Most of the restrictions on livestock within urban areas focus on keeping them off public property, controlling noise and smell, and providing for adequate living conditions. "Livestock" is generally defined to include horses, mules, donkeys, cattle, sheep, llama, goats, and swine. Definitions may also include other animals such as poultry and rabbits.

Some jurisdictions subdivide livestock into categories of large and small livestock. For general information on small livestock, see the Small Animals and Livestock Information Services Bulletin prepared by King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review.

Recently some cities have begun to look at urban agricultural policies which address the production of food on a single family residential lot for a family's personal use, including the raising of farm animals. See the policy examples from Seattle and Lacey.

Examples of Local Codes

  • Blaine Municipal Code Sec. 6.12.060 - Keeping animals in the city - General regulations - Penalty
  • Bonney Lake
  • Fircrest Municipal Code Ch. 7.16 - Livestock
  • Issaquah Municipal Code Ch. 18.07.140 - Animals - Maintenance of Agricultural Animals in Residential District
  • Lacey Municipal Code Ch. 16.21 - Urban Agriculture - The City of Lacey finds there is a need to accommodate urban farming activity. This can include a range of activities, such as production of food on a single family residential lot for a family's personal use, urban vegetable gardens on common property for community use, or a small commercial farm activity located in areas zoned for this use.
  • Lakewood Municipal Code Sec. 18A.50.160(B) - Animals in Residential Districts - Poultry, pigeons, ducks, and similar birds, and rabbits
  • Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 23.42.052 - Keeping of animals - Small animals, farm animals, domestic fowl and bees; roosters prohibited
  • Thurston County
    • Code Ch. 9.04 - Herd District
    • Code Sec. 22.12.020 - Permitted uses - Single Family Medium Density Residential Zone District - J. Agricultural uses, on lots of one acre or more - livestock and poultry
  • Tukwila Municipal Code Ch. 7.08 - Livestock, Small Animals and Fowl
  • Vancouver Municipal Code Sec. 20.895.050 - Domestic Animals and Livestock
  • Woodinville Municipal Code Ch. 21.30 - Development Standards - Animals, Home Occupation, Home Industry  See provisions relating to livestock Sec. 20.30.030-.037

Chickens and Other Fowl

  • Bremerton Municipal Code Ch. 7.06 - Requires a license to keep up to five chickens per single-family residential lot.
  • Eatonville Municipal Code Sec. 6.30.060 - Prohibits poultry running at large and provides a definition of "running at large."
  • Palouse Municipal Code Ch. 6.16 - Prohibits keeping of certain types of fowl and poultry; allows keeping up to a maximum of 20 chickens; prohibits chickens running at large.
  • Shelton Municipal Code Ch. 7.08 - Allows keeping and maintaining of fowl under sanitary conditions on the premises of the owners; prohibits fowl running, roaming, wandering or flying at large.

Slaughter of Farm Animals

The slaughter of animals is controlled by the state through Department of Agriculture regulations (Ch. 16-24 WAC and Ch. 16.50 RCW). Some Washington local governments have passed provisions regarding the slaughtering of animals. A few examples are provided below.

  • Bridgeport Municipal Code Ch. 9.34 - Prohibits slaughtering except for destroying injured or vicious animals.
  • Eatonville Municipal Code Sec. 6.30.130 - Prohibits slaughtering for commercial purposes.
  • Quincy Municipal Code Ch. 9.18 - Prohibits slaughtering with exceptions for commercial purposes, destroying animals, and religious ceremonies.
  • Toppenish Municipal Code Sec. 6.08.030 - Prohibits slaughtering with exceptions for licensed slaughterhouses and noncommercial game, chicken, and rabbits.
  • Yakima Municipal Code Sec. 6.20.044 - Slaughtering is permitted but must be hidden from view, with exceptions for licensed butchers.


Last Modified: June 13, 2016