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Rooster Ordinance FAQ

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Published on December 21, 2016. Last modified on May 12, 2020


Frequently Asked Questions

On December 16, 2014, Monterey County Supervisors approved a that defines a Rooster Keeping Operation as one where 5 or more roosters are kept on any single property within the unincorporated areas of Monterey County.

The purpose of the Rooster Ordinance is to balance the legitimate interests of agricultural businesses and agricultural educational organizations with the prevention of rooster keeping that is unsanitary, environmentally damaging, inhumane, and conducive to illegal cockfighting. No Rooster Keeping Operation can legally operate in the unincorporated areas of Monterey County without either a permit exemption or a permit.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions           Preguntas frecuentes

Permit Exemptions

Certain permit exemptions may be allowed under the Rooster Ordinance for:

  • Poultry Operation – A poultry operation is primarily a business that raises poultry for meat or eggs.
  • Poultry Hobbyist – A poultry hobbyist is typically a member of an organization that promotes breeding of poultry for exhibition or sale, or supports breeding as a hobby.
  • Educational Purpose – The rooster keeping operation is conducted by minors and sponsored by public or private schools registered with the California Department of Education.
  • FFA / 4-H – The rooster keeping operation is conducted by minors and is part of a National Future Farmers of America (FFA) project or a University of California 4-H Youth Development Program (4-H) project.
A data base of approved permit exemptions will be maintained by Monterey County Animal Services in order to assist staff in answering questions from the public regarding roosters being kept on any particular property and to conduct investigations of public complaints or non-compliance.

All permit exemptions are valid for 5 years. An approved reapplication for permit exemption at the end of the 5 year term will be valid for another 5 years.

A. The permit exemption application for a Poultry Operation or a Poultry Hobbyist is filed with the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s office. Staff of the Agricultural Commissioner’s office will determine if the criteria for a Poultry Operation or a Poultry Hobbyist exemption are met.
The Agricultural Commissioner’s office will set the fee for processing this application and for any inspections that it deems necessary, however it is planned that fees will not initially be assessed on a temporary basis.

A. Parents or guardians complete a no-fee exemption application (Form 110 Rooster Keeping Permit Student/FFA/4H Exemption Application (English), Form 110 Rooster Keeping Permit Student/FFA/4H Exemption Application (Spanish)) for school-sponsored student; FFA and 4-H permit exemptions. The only information required on the application is the student’s name, Parent/guardian contact information, site address and documentation of the student/minor’s relationship with the sponsoring organization. There is no application or registration requirement for a teacher, volunteer or organization that assists the exempted student/minor.


Appeals to permit exemption or permit denials

Appeals to a decision denying a permit exemption or permit are made to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors in writing, specifying the reasons for disagreement with the decision within 10 days of written notice of denial (per Title 1.22 of the Monterey County Code). The Board will consider the appeal at public hearing within 60 days of acceptance of the completed appeal request.


Permit Enforcement

“…I have no criminal convictions for illegal cockfighting or other crime of animal cruelty in any state and that the roosters to be kept pursuant to this permit have not been and shall not be raised for, used for, sold for or otherwise be made available for illegal cockfighting.
Existing penal codes will be enforced by the SPCA and the Sheriff’s office as needed.

Enforcement of any permit violation, or violation by any unpermitted Rooster Keeping Operation, will depend on the type of violation. Health and Safety violations will be enforced by Environmental Health Bureau staff; Animal Care violations will be enforced by Animal Services staff or the SPCA; and illegal operations will be enforced by the Monterey County Sheriff’s office. If deemed necessary, Sheriff’s Deputies will accompany the Animal Services inspector(s) to enforcement inspections.

Fees for a Rooster Operation Permit are $270 and the permit is valid for one year. Animal Services staff will conduct site visits and site evaluations for compliance with the ordinance, and will assist with completion of applications and answer questions. Information staff collects about these processes will also be used to establish the time it takes to conduct inspections and process applications, which will then be considered in the calculation of any new fees that may be proposed.

During inspections Animal Services staff will survey roosters for illness, injury or mistreatment and will communicate with the appropriate agencies to ensure sick or injured birds receive suitable care and to prevent the spread of any disease.

Animal Services has in place high quality biosecurity measures for their own shelter operations that are implemented daily. Animal Services’ vehicles are routinely sanitized. Staff will willingly comply with all biosecurity procedures in place at each Rooster Keeping Operation.


Monterey County has a mandatory garbage removal ordinance. However a permit applicant may be allowed a separate exemption to the mandatory garbage removal requirement if the Rooster Keeping Operation meets Compost Exemption requirements as an Agricultural operation per State of CA Title 14 (see footnote #2 below for full text). This exemption is for composting less than 1,000 cubic yards. Note that this exemption to mandatory garbage removal requirements is separate from the permit exemption as discussed in the Rooster Ordinance itself.


 Noise issues

Control of noise from roosters is regulated by staff of Monterey County Animal Services under Title 8, Chapter 8.36.10 thru 8.36.020 –Nuisance and Nuisance Animals (see footnote #1 below for full text).  Noise is also addressed through Title 10, Chapter 10.60 thru 10.60.040

The number of individual persons impacted by noise emanating from Rooster Keeping Operations is difficult to determine, however the number of complaints due to noise from roosters is tracked by staff of Monterey County Animal Services and the Environmental Health Bureau which receives an average of two to three complaints of this type per week.

Referenced material from notations above

 Footnote #1:

Title 8, Chapter 8.36.10 thru 8.36.020

8.36.010 - Unnecessary noise.

It shall be unlawful for any person to keep, maintain, or permit on any lot or parcel of land, any dogs, cats, household pets, or any other animal which by any sound or cry shall disturb the peace and comfort of any neighborhood. (Ord. 3629, 1992)

8.36.020 - Abatement of noise or nuisance.

Whenever it shall be affirmed in writing by three or more adult persons living in separate dwelling units in the neighborhood that any dog, cat, household pet, or any other animal is a habitual nuisance by reason of howling, barking, or other noise, or is in any other manner causing undue annoyance, that shall constitute a public nuisance, the Animal Control Officer or his or her designee, if he or she finds such public nuisance to exist, shall serve notice upon the owner or custodian that the public nuisance shall be abated or the animal shall be impounded in a legal manner. If the nuisance and annoyance cannot be successfully abated and the Animal Control Officer or his or her designee determines it necessary to impound such dog, cat, household pet, or animal, he or she shall not permit the reclaiming or redemption of the animal to the owner or custodian unless adequate arrangements have been made by the owner or custodian to ensure abatement of the annoyance or public nuisance.

Footnote #2:

 Composting; Title 14 California State Code

Section 17855. Excluded Activities.

(a) The activities listed in this section do not constitute compostable material handling operations or facilities for the purposes of this Chapter and are not required to meet the requirements set forth herein. Nothing in this section precludes the EA or the board from inspecting an excluded activity to verify that the activity is being conducted in a manner that qualifies as an excluded activity or from taking any appropriate enforcement action.

(1) An activity is excluded if it handles agricultural material derived from an agricultural site, and returns a similar amount of the material produced to that same agricultural site, or an agricultural site owned or leased by the owner, parent, or subsidiary of the composting activity. No more than an incidental amount of up to 1,000 cubic yards of compost product may be given away or sold annually.

(2) Vermicomposting is an excluded activity. The handling of compostable material prior to and after use as a growth medium is not an excluded activity and is subject to the requirements of this chapter. Handling of agricultural material on the site of a vermicomposting activity, for use as a growth medium on that same site, is an excluded activity if it complies with section 17855(a)(1).

(3) Mushroom farming is an excluded activity. The handling of compostable material prior to and after use as a growth medium is not an excluded activity and is subject to the requirements of this chapter. Handling of agricultural material on the site of a mushroom farm, for use as mushroom bedding on that same site, is an excluded activity if it complies with section 17855(a)(1).

(4) Handling of green material, feedstock, additives, amendments, compost, or chipped and ground material is an excluded activity if 500 cubic yards or less is on-site at any one time, the compostable materials are generated on-site and if no more than 1,000 cubic yards of materials are either sold or given away annually. The compostable material may also include up to 10% food material by volume.

Preguntas frecuentes