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.
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.
- Blaine Municipal Code Sec. 6.12.060 — Imposes restrictions and standards for keeping farm animals in the city, including penalties
- Bonney Lake Municipal Code Sec. 6.04.130 - .135 — Allows livestock and poultry on single-family residential property, subject to conditions, while Sec. 18.22.060 puts additional zoning restrictions on raising and grazing of livestock and poultry
- Fircrest Municipal Code Sec. 7.16.090 — Sets restrictions on the numbers and type of livestock permitted per lot size, beginning with ¼ acre (may maintain 1 sheep, goat, or llama) up to 1 acre (may maintain 1 cattle, oxen, or swine)
- Issaquah Municipal Code Ch. 18.07.140 — Defines two lot sizes (6,000-35,000 sq. ft. and over 35,000 sq. ft.) for restricting amounts and types of animal allowed
- Lakewood Municipal Code Sec. 18A.50.160(B) — Allows only “small” animals (poultry, pigeons, ducks and similar birds, and rabbits) and limits this to 16 per 1 acre of land. Requires sites have aviaries large enough to cover 1 sq. ft. per each bird owned.
- Thurston County Code Ch. 9.04 — Creates a single, countywide stock restricted area.
- Tukwila Municipal Code Ch. 7.08 — Defines ‘large’ and ‘small’ livestock, sets minimum lots sizes for the keeping of various types of animals, and prohibits roosters
- Vancouver Municipal Code Sec. 20.895.050 — Defines large, small, and miniature livestock and sets minimum lots sizes for each. Also defines the keeping of 4 or more dogs as constituting a kennel
- Woodinville Municipal Code Ch. 21.31 — Includes regulations on the keeping of small animals and/or livestock, and farm management and livestock plans
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
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
- 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 injured or vicious 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