TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — When it comes to keeping chickens, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are birds of a feather. Both cities allow keeping chickens on residential property, meaning that amid constantly rising prices for eggs, there’s an option for some residents to avoid the line at the store.
The latest Consumer Price Index report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that while national inflation levels are either down or staying where they are, the price of eggs has continued to increase, rising 60% in the past year. The price of eggs in stores rose 11.1% in just December.
However, it’s also complicated by a rash of commercial flocks that have been infected with avian flu. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture reported on Jan. 18 that more than 58 million chickens had been infected with the current strain of Avian Influenza. Of those, 432 flocks were “backyard flocks,” and 312 were commercial flocks.
While the prices have been on the rise for months, even as far back as April 2022, some trade organizations are blaming egg suppliers for the price jumps, rather than just laying the blame on the bird flu infections.
Farm Action, a farming organization, called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate egg suppliers “in response to record-high egg prices.” They said the FTC needs to investigate, then “prosecute any violations of the antitrust laws” if egg suppliers are harming Americans, or using “unfair deceptive acts or practices” when adjusting costs to consumers.
“Examining publicly-available financial data from the egg industry, the letter determines that the supply disruption caused by the avian flu outbreak had an ‘apparently mild impact on the industry,’ as the average size of the egg-laying flock in any given month of 2022 was never more than six percent lower than it was a year prior,” Farm Action said, calling out Cal-Maine, an egg supplier, in particular.
“For the 26-week period ending on November 26, 2022, Cal-Maine reported a ten-fold year-over-year increase in gross profits — from $50.392 million to $535.339 million — and a five-fold increase in its gross margins,” Farm Action said, saying that weekly prices had increased beyond the “mild impact on the industry” that the avian flu outbreak had on supplies and business.
Naturally, people want to find ways around spending so much on food, including eggs, especially if they can stay home to do it. However, while both counties allow keeping chickens for egg-laying purposes, the two cities diverge when it comes to what’s allowed.
In Hillsborough County, and Tampa more specifically, keeping egg-laying chickens is Grade-A-OK. You can have up to 10 chickens in Tampa, but no roosters, according to the city’s municipal code.
In the larger county area, including the unincorporated communities, the Hillsborough County Code allows up to five hens for egg-laying, also no roosters. Selling eggs on-site is prohibited.
For Pinellas residents, roosters are also not allowed, though you are allowed to keep chickens. The county does not allow the sale of chickens, their eggs, or their manure, nor the breeding of chickens for commercial purposes. The limit on how many chickens county residents can keep is set at four.
In St. Petersburg, the rules are slightly different. The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has a list of the various regulations for backyard poultry in Pinellas County. The university reports that county regulations, as far as chickens, only apply to unincorporated parts of Pinellas.
As a result, there are just five cities that have explicit directions or regulations when it comes to keeping chickens in the county: Belleair, Dunedin, Gulfport, Largo, and St. Petersburg.
According to IFAS, the following areas allow chickens.
|Bellair||Yes||Yes||May not be raised for commercial purposes. Coops must be kept clean. Permit required.||5 domes-|
|Dunedin||Yes||Yes||Fowl must be kept within an enclosure, apply to city codes and regulations, and not constitute a nuisance.||Yes|
|Gulfport||Yes||No||Chickens must be contained in the backyard and all coops must be kept clean.|
|Largo||Yes||Yes||Fowl must be securely fenced and coops and runways must be kept clean.||Yes|
|St. Petersburg||Yes||Yes||Fowl must be securely fenced and coops and runways must be kept clean.Not within 100 ft of neighbors without their approval.||Yes|