What to know about owning chickens in Winston-Salem

We’re breaking down the rules so you don’t run a-fowl of the city ordinance.

Three chickens, a brown, a white, and a black and white one, roam in fallen leaves among trees. A chicken coop and shed are in the distance.

You can let chickens roam on your property but they can’t get loose.

Photo by WStoday

If you’ve been hunting + pecking for information about owning chickens within Winston-Salem city limits, allow us to break down the rules found in section 6-6 of the city code.

You no longer need a permit to raise chickens. You can have up to five hens or other fowl on your property — no roosters are allowed. In 2022, City Council also voted in favor of reducing the distance to property lines from 100 ft to 20 ft. When it comes to the location on your property, there are some additional rules:

  • Coops and runs must be in your backyard.
  • Runs must be enclosed and at least 4-ft high.
  • Runs must provide 10 sqft per chicken.
  • Coops must be inside the run.

If you’re raising chickens for meat, slaughtering must happen away from public view. Noisy birds can result in a class three misdemeanor + a fine up to $500 (see section 6-8). The Community Development Department is responsible for enforcing the rules.