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Urban agriculture, Sustainable agriculture, Sustainable urban development


As interest in urban agriculture sweeps the country, municipalities are struggling to update, code to meet public demands. The proliferation of urban livestock—especially chickens, rabbits, bees, and goats—has posed particular regulatory challenges. Scant planning scholarship on urban livestock focuses mostly on how cities regulate animals, but few studies attempt to characterize urban livestock, ownership and management practices in the US in relation to these regulations. Our study addresses this gap. Using a web-based survey distributed via a snowball technique, we received responses from 134 livestock owners in 48 US cities, revealing the following: why they keep livestock; what kind of, livestock they keep and how many; the proximity of their livestock to property lines and dwellings; the extent to which they raise animals for meat; how they manage waste and other possible nuisances or public health risks; and their interest in exchanging animal products through sale and barter. We also examine whether such practices conform to the regulatory context. Results suggest that urban livestock ownership is more akin to pet ownership and should therefore not be restricted under planning codes as if it were a commercial-scale agricultural activity. Given the diversity of livestock ownership practices and lot sizes, we recommend that planners consider the following when developing urban livestock codes: (1) more appropriate setbacks and animal limits per lot; (2), promotion of high standards for animal welfare; (3) addressing sales and slaughter; and (4), making regulations more visible to the public. We, conclude by laying out an agenda for future research on urban livestock regulation and management.


This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Land Use Policy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Land Use Policy, Volume 38, May 2014 and is available online at:



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