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Livestock and Other Farm Animals

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

It is part of MRSC's series on Animal Control.


The keeping of farm animals is generally regulated under local zoning, including the number and kinds allowed in urban areas. 

​Most of the restrictions on livestock within residential 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, llamas, goats, and swine, but definitions may also include other animals such as poultry and rabbits.

Regulating Farm Animals in Residential Districts 

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.

Examples of Ordinances on Keeping Farm Animals in Residential Districts

The ordinances below are generally broad in scope and regulate several different types of animals. 

Examples of Urban Agriculture Ordinances 

Recently some cities have begun to look at urban agricultural policies that can address the production of food, including the raising of farm animals, on a single-family residential lot for a family's personal use.

  • Lacey Municipal Code Sec. 16.21.014 — Defines a range of activities as Urban Agriculture, including the keeping of livestock, although large livestock is only allowed in lots over 1 acre in size. Prohibits roosters, geese, turkeys, and peacocks
  • Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 23.42.052 — Covers the keeping of small animals, domestic fowl, and bees, and permits keeping of some farm animals based on lot size; Roosters and pigs (other than potbelly) prohibited

Examples of Ordinances Regulating Chickens and Other Fowl

These ordinances specifically regulate the keeping of chickens and other domesticated fowl within residential areas.

  • 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 this; prohibits the breeding of fowl for the primary purpose of selling the birds  
  • Palouse Municipal Code Ch. 6.16 — Prohibits keeping of certain types of fowl and poultry; allows owner to keep 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 unrestricted flying

Regulating the Slaughter of Farm Animals

The slaughter of animals is controlled by the state by statute (Ch. 16.50 RCW) and through Department of Agriculture regulations (Ch. 16-24 WAC). However, some Washington local governments have also passed provisions regarding the slaughtering of animals.

Examples of Ordinances on the Slaughter of Farm Animals

Last Modified: February 23, 2024