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Pigs and Chickens and Bees! Oh My!
Urban Backyard “Tiny Farms” in the City of Savannah
Are you dreaming of farm fresh eggs from your own flock of chickens, honey from a backyard beehive, or enjoying the antics of a mini pig? I have the personal and
professional experience to answer your questions and make those dreams come true.
If Old McDonald is your role model and the “E-I-E-I-O refrain” is your mantra, here are some facts to consider when establishing your own urban backyard “tiny farm” in the City of Savannah. Before you dive into backyard husbandry here is what you should know about the City of Savannah rules and regulations governing your activities.
First question: Are pigs, chickens, and bees permitted within the City limits? I can speak from experience when I tell you, yes! The City of Savannah is inclusive of non-traditional pets. I live in Midtown Savannah near Habersham Village and my friends lovingly call my home the “tiny farm.” My wife and I are both involved in animal rescue here in Savannah and we have an eclectic mix of pets. We currently have dogs, a cat, three chickens, and a pet pig.
When I met my wife, she already had a pet pig. When it came time for us to combine households, I knew we had to check with the City of Savannah to make sure City ordinances permitted our types of pets at our location.
The first step was to check the pet ordinances (linked below). Our home sits on a residential lot size of .22 acres or 9,000 square feet. This is important to know when calculating which types of pets you’re permitted to have in the City limits and how many of each are allowed. The number of chickens, for example, is based on how many square feet your lot is. One chicken is allowed per 1,000 square feet of high ground.
The other consideration is where to build shelters for these pets (such as a chicken coop) on your property, and how close they can sit in proximity to your neighbors’ homes. In most cases, the structure needs to be a minimum of 25 feet away from a neighbor’s home. Be sure to confirm with the most recent version of the City’s ordinances before constructing your shelter. It can be a costly mistake to build it in the wrong location. It’s much easier to put the extra time into planning and pick the right location from the start.
As a good rule of thumb, check with your neighbors to make sure they would not be bothered by hearing clucking chickens next door or bees pollinating their garden. I’ve found being upfront about your new pets typically helps avoid conflict. I take fresh eggs to my neighbors and that seems to keep everyone happy and avoids any” ruffled feathers.”
Here are some of the important rules and regulations for non-traditional pets in the City of Savannah:
- Chickens are permitted in limited quantities. “One chicken per 1,000 square feet of high ground shall be permitted, provided, however, the maximum number of chickens permitted is 30.” You’ll want to find out how many square feet your lot is and then calculate how many chickens are permitted. For example, we have a 9,000 square foot lot in midtown Savannah. We would not be permitted more than 9 chickens, although I keep it well under that number. You’ll want to add only hens to your flock. Roosters are not permitted in the city due to the noise nuisance ordinance. Roosters are too loud for residential settings and keeping a rooster is a quick way to get complaints from neighbors.
- Bees are permitted. Here’s the buzz; you can have a hive but be sure to register it. You will also want to request notifications about mosquito control efforts (spraying), which can harm your bees. “Registration Required. All beekeepers are required to annually register each apiary with the Chatham County Department of Building Safety. The fee for the registration will be $25 per address…”
- Pigs are permitted. Despite what you see in adorable social media posts, there’s no such thing as a “mini pig,” but some breeds are smaller than others. If you’re on a smaller city-sized lot (less than two acres) you will be limited to specific smaller breed pig with limits on size. Pigs are challenging pets, so please do your research before bringing one into your family. Or please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and I will share what I have learned about owning a pet pig. “Pigs shall not be kept on parcels less than two acres in size, except as provided for below. Swine species such as Miniature Vietnamese, Chinese, or Oriental pot-bellied pigs shall be permitted on any parcel, regardless of size, subject to the following: The maximum height of the pig is no greater than 18 inches at the shoulder and weighs no more than 95 pounds.”
Link to current City of Savannah Animal Ordinance (at the time of this post):
Important Note: If you reside in Chatham County outside the City of Savannah limits different regulations could affect your backyard farm activities. Be certain to research the rules and ordinances that govern your specific location. Chatham County Building Safety and Regulatory Services has designated two Agricultural Zones labeled A-1. Check to see if your location falls within one of these zones.
Here is a link to their site:
Also Note: if your residence is located within a gated community or is managed by a Homeowners or Neighborhood Association be sure to adhere to those regulations before adding animals or animal shelters to your backyard.
Are you interested in buying a home to start your own tiny farm? Call me to discuss your farm vision and I will help you locate the perfect property. As a Seabolt Real Estate Associate Broker, I am well-qualified and experienced in the Savannah and surrounding area real estate market. Please call me!
Seabolt Brokers | Christie’s International Real Estate