Welcoming Animals Back to the City: Navigating the Tensions of Urban Livestock Through Municipal Ordinances


  • William H. Butler Florida State University




Animal Control, Food Systems Planning, Land Use Regulations, Public Health, Urban Livestock, Zoning


Since the Industrial Revolution, livestock has been driven out of urban and semi-urban areas in the United States. Recently, calls for localizing the food system have led to a rise in urban agriculture, and livestock is finding its way back into the city. The return of livestock to urban areas is rife with tensions, including concerns about public health and challenges to dominant perspectives about the separation of urban from rural life. Through an analysis of municipal codes, this paper identifies how some communities have navigated challenges associated with welcoming livestock back into the city. Specifically, the paper analyzes how codes regulate livestock through prohibitions of certain types of animals, zoning to establish where in the municipality livestock can be kept, site-level restrictions that define property characteristics required to keep productive animals, and requirements for managing livestock and their accessory structures on the property. The analysis demonstrates that no two municipalities approach the urban livestock question in the same way; however, each seeks to place limits on raising livestock in urban areas through some combination of regulatory land use tools. The paper concludes with a broader discussion of how the regulations address key tensions associated with our understanding of the urban-rural divide and competing claims on public health.


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Author Biography

William H. Butler, Florida State University

Assistant Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32301 USA; +1-850-644-9801.



How to Cite

Butler, W. H. (2012). Welcoming Animals Back to the City: Navigating the Tensions of Urban Livestock Through Municipal Ordinances. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 2(2), 193–215. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.022.003