Can You Own Backyard Chickens in Delaware?

A red and white chicken hen

Whether or not you can have Backyard Chickens in Delaware depends on your specific location within the state. Nicknamed the "Blue Hen State," Delaware shares a rich history with domesticated birds. Delaware's official state bird is the Blue Hen Chicken, whose history stems from the American Revolutionary War.

Another breed of chicken native to Delaware is the Delaware Chicken, a breed known for its rapid growth and fast feathering. According to the Delaware Historical Society, Delaware has two million chickens spread out across all three counties. That said, not every Delaware municipality allows the keeping of backyard chickens.

While Delaware has no statewide chicken-keeping law, most Delaware cities have local regulations governing the keeping of chickens. For example, the City of Wilmington does not currently allow backyard chickens. Aside from local laws, there are also HOA Laws and Regulations, which may affect your chicken-keeping. So, be sure to consult your local bylaws to ensure backyard chickens are allowed where you live. Meanwhile, I've compiled a list of major Delaware cities and their specific laws.

1. Dover, DE

Under certain conditions, you may keep chickens in your backyard in the City of Dover, DE. While the number of chickens you can own is up to 25, the City Code prohibits noisy animals or fowl. Specifically, Dover's code of ordinances prohibits the keeping of animals that cause frequent or long-continued noise, thereby disturbing the comfort of neighbors. This means that the keeping of male chickens (roosters) is technically not allowed in Dover, DE. You may keep laying hens but is such a condition as to not constitute a public nuisance.

2. Newark, DE

In the City of Newark, DE, the maximum number of domestic animals, including chickens, allowed per household is six. For example, you may own 3 dogs and 3 chickens or any combination of allowable domestic animals not exceeding 6 in total. In addition this this restriction, there are other rules you must adhere to as a chicken owner in Newark, DE. For example, the city code prohibits chicken owners from permitting their birds to stray away from their premises. Further, all Newark chicken owners are required by law to not allow chicken feces to accumulate so as to create obnoxious or offensive odors.

3. Milford, DE

You may own backyard chickens in Milford, DE but to do so, you need a property of at least 10,890 square feet in lot area. The keeping of chickens on lots smaller than 10,890 square feet in lot area isn't allowed in Milford, DE.  Additionally, each residential lot within the city is restricted to 5 chickens, excluding roosters. All hens must be registered with the Delaware Department of Agriculture and penned in a coop. This coop must provide at least 4 square feet of space per hen and be located in the rear yard. Chicken coops are also required to be kept at least 20 feet from side and rear property lines and in a sanitary condition.

4. Seaford, DE

You can legally keep backyard chickens within the City of Seaford, DE with written permission of the City Manager. To avoid permit revocation, you are required to keep your chickens at all times in a sanitary condition and free from obnoxious odors. In addition, you must prevent your feathered friends from running at large within the City.

5. Millsboro, DE

The keeping of backyard chickens within the Town of Millsboro, DE is subject to certain restrictions. For starters, all chicken houses must not be larger than 200 square feet in area. Additionally, no chicken house shall be located within 500 feet of any neighboring building. Furthermore, your chicken house must be well-ventilated and cleaned regularly. However, the Town Council may use their discretionary powers in cases where the distance requirements will create an undue hardship.


It is legal to own backyard chickens in Delaware. However, your local laws may prevent you from keeping chickens. As Delaware chicken ordinances vary by municipality, is advisable to check with your city’s office to verify if backyard chickens are permitted in your area.
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