Chicks, Piglets, Foals–Oh My! Farm Animal Law around Florida

Cities and counties across the country have some surprising laws related to animal husbandry. One city may not allow piglets without a permit, another prohibits cows if you don’t have enough acreage. And while there may be statewide farm animal laws establishing certain guidelines, usually counties, cities and small towns have additional, and often strange, requirements. These unusual farm animal laws usually reflect the history of the area. Florida is no different. Below are some unique city and county farm animal laws to make you think twice before adding to your flock.

Jacksonville

Backyard Hens,  City Code Sec. 656.422

You might be surprised at how concerned the City is with the female gallus domesticus. Titled ‘Backyard Hens,’ Code Sec. 656.422 reflects that a single family dwelling may house up to five (5) hens per acre in certain residential zones (“Agriculture and Rural Residential-Acre” zones excluded) after applying for a permit (with fees) through the Planning and Development Department. You also have to take a chicken-keeping seminar with the Duval County Agricultural Extension Office. And there’s a whole list of requirements for how the backyard hens must be kept, including that they at all times be kept in a coop or enclosure, not to exceed 10 x 10 feet, located at the back of the property only, and screened from a neighbors’ view.

Miniature Vietnamese Potbellied Pigs as Household Pets, City Code 656.422

We had to add this one, too. There are quite a few “pig pet” laws across the state, but this one is by far the most specific. It establishes a strict prohibition on any pig or swine as a household pet unless it is a registered purebred sus scrofa vittatus, or Vietnamese potbellied pig (pictured). One potbelly per acre and primarily kept inside. Interestingly, there’s an entire licensing application that must be renewed annually. It must include written certification from a veterinarian that the pig in the thirty days prior is negative for psuedorabies and brucellosis and an affidavit that no more than two potbellies are at the same home. The state also gets the opportunity to observe your pet piglet at that time.

Lee County

Special Exception for Certain Exotic Pets,  City Code Sec. 34.1297

Officially titled “Activities requiring special approval,” Lee County requires owners of certain exotic farm animals considered to have “possible adverse effects on the natural environment” or “potential hazard to surrounding property” to obtain a special exception in certain zoning districts for their keeping, raising or breeding. The list includes:

“(a) American alligators or venomous reptiles; (b) Marine life which requires the storage of brackish or saline water; (c) Domestic tropical birds for commercial purposes; and (d) Class I and II animals” (as maintained by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission — we really mean lions, tigers, bears, oh my, here).

For (a) and (d), the special exception must include the “number and type” allowed.

Ocala

Llama Law,  City Code Sec. 122.1221

Okay, so it isn’t just about llamas. This City of Ocala ordinance allows for farm animals in single family residential (not agricultural) for “accessory use” upon application to the planning and zoning commission and after a public hearing.  Though husbandry cannot be the primary use of the property, you’re still allowed to keep certain farm animals. You have to have at least five acres and there’s a limit per acre, as follows:

“Equine (e.g., horse, mule, donkey, etc.) and bovine (e.g., cattle, bison, etc.) shall not exceed one for every two and one-half acres and caprine (e.g., goats), ovine (e.g., sheep) and lama (e.g., llama, alpaca, etc.) shall not exceed three for every one acre.”

Poultry (chicks, goose, ducks) cannot exceed 25 total and no roosters. Piggies aren’t allowed. There’s also certain qualifications for manure storage. If you’re violating a part of this Code, you’re likely also violating general nuisance law. See our blog post here for more information on nuisance law.

Palatka

Running at Large,  City Code Sec. 14-2, 3.

Once a trading post town, Palatka’s prohibition against farm animals “running at large” may be rooted in its history. Any “animal or fowl” tied out in the street (other than a dog) is considered running at large, and is technically a violation of the law. Moreover, if livestock tied to a “fence, shade tree, ornamental tree or shrubbery” does any damage to it because of the negligence or willfulness of the person who tied the livestock to it, you’ve violated the law, and may have to foot the bill for its repair.

Questions about your Farm Animal Law? Let’s chat. Contact us at contact@groveslaw.ag to schedule a consultation.

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Kara Groves

After earning her law degree from University of Florida Levin College of Law and working as a tort defense litigator, Kara is settling down and bought some acreage out in Mount Dora. She has returned to her sustainable, regulatory background to help farmers and locally-focused businesses innovate and capitalize on direct-to-consumer movements across the state. In her off time, Kara is an avid gardener and cook. You’ll often find her in downtown Mount Dora adding to her plant collection or taking client meetings in the local brewery and marketplace.

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