Brainerd council moves toward allowing more chickens, adding ducks

City Council members approved the first reading of an ordinance that would allow residents to keep four chickens or ducks in addition to four dogs and cats.

A flock of chickens in a coop
A flock of backyard chickens congregates in a coop.
Chelsey Perkins / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — The Brainerd City Council is fighting what was dubbed as the “egg-pocalypse” — one chicken and duck at a time.

Council members voted Monday, Feb. 6, to approve the first reading of an ordinance amendment that would lessen restrictions on the number of pets residents can have, specifically regarding chickens and ducks.

The amendment would allow residents to keep a flock of four hens or four ducks on their property, in addition to a combination of up to four cats and dogs. As it stands, the ordinance only allows for a combination of four dogs, cats and chickens. Ducks are not allowed under the current ordinance.

The issue came up last month , when council member Gabe Johnson said he was approached by residents who wanted to raise chickens for egg-laying purposes with the rising cost of eggs but could not do so because of the city’s pet ordinance. During discussions later in January , Community Development Director James Kramvik said there had also been a request last year to allow ducks as pets. Ducks can also be raised for laying eggs, and after some research, Kramvik said it seemed ducks could potentially be easier to raise than chickens.

Council members agreed at the time they would be OK allowing up to four chickens or ducks in addition to cats and dogs and directed staff to draw up an ordinance amendment to reflect those changes.


Under the proposal, chicken owners — and now duck owners — would have to apply for a permit from the city to have the animals. Roosters are not allowed and still would not be. The permit would require coops and runs to be at least 25 feet away from adjacent property, and chickens and ducks must be confined on the property at all times in a coop or run. Any coop or run would have to be screened with a solid fence or landscaped buffer with a minimum height of 4 feet.

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Council members removed the requirement for neighbor approval. The two residents who currently have permits for chickens were required to obtain approval from their neighbors to do so. That requirement was left in the new ordinance amendment, but council member Mike O’Day proposed removing it Monday, noting consent is not needed for other pets, like dogs and cats, and the city already takes a complaint-driven approach to other code violations.

“If we’re complaint-based already with dogs and cats, then why can’t we be the same way with chickens, which are probably much less of a nuisance than a dog can be?” O’Day said.

Mayor Dave Badeaux agreed he would be more concerned about a neighbor having four dogs as opposed to four chickens.

A vote to remove the neighbor consent requirement passed 6-1, with Council President Kelly Bevans opposed.

“I think it’s still a good idea. It’s the neighborly thing to do,” Bevans said.

Any issues neighbors might have with chickens, O’Day added, could potentially fall under other sections of the code, like the noise ordinance.

A flock of chickens in a coop
A flock of backyard chickens congregates in a coop.
Chelsey Perkins / Brainerd Dispatch

“There are protections for neighbors who find themselves with unruly chickens for neighbors,” O’Day said.


Though opposed to the change, Bevans joined the rest of the council in approving the first reading of the ordinance amendment to allow four chickens or four ducks in addition to other pets without requiring neighbor consent.

If approved in the end, Badeaux requested the measure come back before the council in a year to assess any issues.

Residents will get a chance to weigh in on the ordinance change during a public hearing at the council’s next meeting Feb. 21, after which the council will vote on final approval.

“I just want to thank the council and staff for working on this and keeping Brainerd on the frontlines of the fight during the egg-pocalypse,” Johnson said.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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