May 10, 2021

Want to raise chickens? Do your homework.


While many communities allow raising hens, owning roosters may be illegal.

Every year, Dane County Humane Society sees an increase in roosters surrendered by local families.

As the popularity of backyard chickens continues to grow, there are some important things that local families need to consider before purchasing those adorable chicks.

Oftentimes, when you purchase chicks, you won’t know if they will grow up to be male roosters or female hens. Typically, young birds’ sex cannot be reliably determined until six months of age. In many Wisconsin communities, owning roosters is illegal due to their loud crowing, which violates noise ordinances.

DCHS advises people interested in raising chickens not to make the commitment until they know if it is legal to have them, how many they can have, and if it is legal to have a rooster. While roosters have been outlawed in many cities and towns, it may be OK to raise hens in compliance with municipal ordinances that specify the number of birds that may be owned and the size of the chicken coop required to house them.

To reduce the chances of getting a male chick, community members should look into purchasing the birds from smaller local farmers or egg hatcheries instead of large corporate operations. Smaller merchants may be able to sell chicks that are old enough for their sex to be accurately determined or offer refunds on birds that turn out to be roosters. Aspiring chicken farmers may also find flocks of adult hens looking for new homes through DCHS or other local sources.

Above all, do your homework before deciding to raise chickens. Talk to other chicken farmers and agricultural experts to determine the responsibilities and expenses. Planning ahead will ensure that you are ready to provide your chickens with a great home, and unexpected roosters don’t find themselves at DCHS looking for a new family. For more information about Dane County Humane Society and its services, visit

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