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As backyard farms and urban livestock grow in popularity, some see benefits while others call foul

Posted at 9:37 PM, Feb 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 00:42:13-05

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DENVER – Farm animals are becoming an increasingly popular backyard commodity across the Denver metro area, but there is a learning curve for new livestock owners and the differences in regulations between various cities and counties are proving difficult for some to navigate.

But as many urban farmers Denver7 spoke with said, it’s about being clean, knowledgeable and respectful of one’s neighbors and the city or county’s laws.

Golden considering new ordinance

The city of Golden allows people to keep up to six chicken hens, two pot-bellied pigs, beehives, two dwarfed hooved animals, 10 pigeons in a coop and up to 10 rabbits or chinchillas.

But there are special rules that people must meet in order to own any of those animals, and the city requires anyone wishing to implement a backyard livestock operation to submit a Small Animals Permit Application, which costs $45.

Anyone wishing to raise such animals also has to submit a design of the proposed housing for the animals that show how they plan to keep predators out.

Additionally, there are extra rules and requirements for raising chickens regarding the size requirements for their pens and coops. The city is also discussing some changes to the program.

Chicken coop builder has seen industry grow

Leigh Bray hatched a plan 10 years ago to build small chicken coops for the growing segment of hobby farmers experiencing with raising backyard livestock in Colorado.

“Somebody in the family said, ‘Oh, will you build one for me?’ Next thing, my wife had a website and I’ve built 300 chicken coops so far,” Bray said.

He says raising one’s own food is innate, organic and cost-effective. He says his chickens typically lay between eight and 10 eggs each day.

“People are always amazed at the friendly relationship they build with their chickens,” Bray said. “You become surprisingly attached to them.”

Man says animals can be a nuisance

“People fall in love with their animals and they don’t think that their animals and their animals’ behavior should be bothersome to anyone else because it doesn’t bother them,” argues Jay Bailey, who says he is concerned about the rights of neighbors of people with backyard animals.

“The issues come in when these animals intrude on other people’s privacy and comfort zone,” he said.

But he says that he wouldn’t have much of an issue if the owners are keeping in line with the rules.

“If people are responsible and they’re taking care of the animals, it’s totally fine with me,” he said.

Other Coloradans find backyard livestock operations completely normal

While some find the animals a nuisance, others say that moving some animals into urban areas isn’t out of the ordinary.

“I grew up on a farm with cows and a lake, and we live off the land. So to me, it’s very normal,” said one person. “Producing your own food and you wouldn’t have to go buy it – it’s better for the environment.”

Others said they would enjoy having fresh eggs and poultry coming right from their backyard, while others simply don’t see a reason to infringe on other people’s property rights.

“If it was my neighbor, I could probably strike a deal with them,” laughed one person.

Current rules in Golden require anyone submitting a permit application submit a copy of the warranty deed for the property or a letter from the landowner authorizing the action; a letter describing the request and efforts to protect against predators; a site plan for the property and sketches of the structure, and written consent from all adult residents of the land or home.