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Urban Farm Life

Feature

Written by
Katie Vincent

Barnyards are coming to a town near you. In suit with the “return to the land” urban agriculture movement, many city-dwellers who already don the homegrown chicken badge are peeking over the horizon for the next step of subsistence city living. And thanks to grassroots organizations like the Goat Justice League, raising farm animals on residential lots is becoming increasingly accessible and popular. 

From small livestock animals like chickens, ducks and rabbits to heftier species like sheep, cattle, llamas and miniature donkeys, the possibilities for harvesting your own animal products and enjoying the various agricultural benefits are at your fingertips. Plus, for families with children, raising farm animals provides a structure to learn about responsibility and helps them fully understand the work and resources necessary to make a cheeseburger appear on their plate. 

As with any domestic animal, raising happy, healthy livestock of any size comes with a considerable amount of commitment and resources. For the animals’ sake, do your research and take classes to help you suss out whether the title of “shepherd” or “cowgirl” is the right fit for you. Still think urban farm animals are right for you? Read on to discover the benefits of integrating different animals into your urban homestead.

Ducks
  • Eggs or meat
  • Pest control (slugs, snails, invertebrates)
  • Consume some food waste 
  • Manure for garden (if composted)
  • Unlike roosters, male ducks (drakes) are allowed as they’re not loud, so the flock can self-sustain
Rabbits
  • Meat or fur
  • Manure for garden
  • Consume some food waste
Horses
  • Riding for transport and recreation
  • Working antique farm equipment
  • Grazing to keep grass and weeds low
  • Till and fertilize pasture
  • Manure for garden (if composted)
Chickens
  • Eggs or meat
  • Pest control (slugs, snails, invertebrates, larvae)
  • Light soil aeration
  • Weed control
  • Manure for garden (if composted)
  • Consume some food waste
Miniature Donkeys
  • Drive small carts
  • Riding by children (max. 75 pounds)
  • Manure for garden (if composted)
  • Gentle disposition
Sheep
  • Meat, milk or wool
  • Mowing lawns without pollution and on steep slopes
  • Weed control
  • Manure for gardens (if composted)
Goats
  • Meat, milk or wool
  • Manure for garden (if composted)
  • Eat many broadleaf weeds, trees, shrubs, thickets 
  • Companionship, entertainment and exercise (if they escape!)
Cows
  • Milk, meat, leather or gelatin
  • Grazing to keep grass and weeds low
  • Lightly till and fertilize pasture
  • Manure for garden (if composted)
  • Miniature breeds possible for smaller lots (mini Jersey, Angus, etc.)
Pigs
  • Meat
  • Till and fertilize pasture
  • Consume most food waste

Municipal Regulations for Farm Animals

Bellevue
ducks/chickens/turkeys/rabbits
• 10 small domestic animals per 20,000 sq. ft. lot + 1 animal per additional 1,500 sq. ft.
• Housing and roaming >25’ from property line.

sheep/goats/minature donkeys/llamas/alpacas/cows/horses
• 1 large domestic animal per 10,000 sq. ft. of lot. 
• Housing >25’ from property line.
• If fully enclosed, fencing can be along property line.

pigs
• Not permitted.

issaquah
ducks/chickens/rabbits
• 1 small domestic animal per 2,000 sq. ft. lot; 6,000 sq. ft. min.
• Keep 5’ from property line or along line if solid fencing.
• No roosters.

sheep/goats
• Min. 35,000 sq. ft. lot.
• Housing >25’ from property line.
• “Other” farm animals allowed at ratio of 5 total (regardless of species) per 1 acre of area available.

pigs
• Not permitted.

Llamas/Alpacas/ Miniature Donkeys/horses
• Min. 35,000 sq. ft. lot.
• Housing >25’ from property line. 
• 1 animal per 1.2 acres of livable space.

cows
• Min. 35,000 sq. ft. lot.
• Housing >25’ from property line.
• 1 animal per 0.5 acres of livable space.

medina
ducks/chickens/turkeys/rabbits
• 1 per 1 sq. ft. of housing structure; max. 2,000 sq. ft.
• Housing <2,000 sq. ft. >10’ from property line > 20’ from a dwelling unit.

sheep/goats/pigs/llamas/alpacas
• Min. 20,000 sq. ft. lot.
• “Other” farm animals allowed at ratio of 5 total (regardless of species) per 1 acre of area available or per 0.5 acre of total site.

Cows/horses
• Min. 20,000 sq. ft. lot.
• 3 large farm animals total (regardless of species) per gross acre of total site area.

miniature donkeys
• If <500 lbs., see “Sheep.”
• If >500 lbs., see “Cows.”

mercer island
ducks/chickens/turkeys/rabbits
• Footprint of housing <36 sq. ft. and located >65’ from a dwelling unit. Fenced run >35’ from a dwelling unit.
• 1 animal per 500 sq. ft. of lot area.
• No roosters.

sheep/goats/pigs/llamas/alpacas
• Min. 20,000 sq. ft. lot.
• “Other” farm animals allowed at ratio of 5 total (regardless of species) per 1 acre of area available or per 0.5 acre of total site.

Cows/horses
• Min. 20,000 sq. ft. lot.
• 3 large farm animals total (regardless of species) per gross acre of total site area.

miniature donkeys
• If <500 lbs., see “Sheep.”
• If >500 lbs., see “Cows.”

kirkland
ducks/chickens/turkeys/rabbits*
• Lot <35,000 sq. ft.: 3 animals + 1 per every 1,000 sq. ft. above 5,000 sq. ft. (max. 30)
• Lot >35,000 sq. ft.: 20 animals max. + 1 per additional 500 sq. ft.
• Structure >100 sq. ft. must be 40’ from property line. If <100 sq. ft. can be within 5’ of property line if adjacent is nonresidential or 10’ + easement. Must be kept clean.
• Mobile structures (chicken tractors) can adjoin property line.
• No roosters.
(*If more than 4)

sheep/goats/pigs/minature donkeys/llamas/alpacas/cows
• Required City review process.
• If allowed, 2 animals total (regardless of species) per 35,000 sq. ft. lot + 1 animal per addt'l 17,500 sq. ft.
• Housing structure <1,200 sq. ft. and >40’ from property line. Must keep in clean condition.
• Manure piles >65’ from adjacent structure.

horses
• Required City review process.
• If allowed, 2 animals total (regardless of species) per 35,000 sq. ft. lot + 1 animal per addt'l 17,500 sq. ft.
• More allowed if residing in Bridle Trails neighborhood.
• Housing structure <1,200 sq. ft. and >40’ from property line. Must keep in clean condition.
• Must allow at least 14,500 sq. ft. additional area for paddock space >20’ from property line with easy truck access for manure pickup and feed delivery.
• Manure piles >65’ from adjacent structure. 

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