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Urban Ungulates - A Review of Backyard Livestock Zoning Regulations in the Albuquerque Metro Area

Ranchers across the western U.S. navigate a complex land tenure system comprised of deeded, privately leased, state, and federal lands for grazing. And, as such, their management decisions are shaped by the property rights and regulations associated with each land type.

Similarly, backyard farmers must also heed land-use regulations when raising livestock in urban or semi-urban areas. Zoning regulations vary by city and county, so discovering and understanding permitted uses can be a challenge. To simplify the process, here is a brief summary of Albuquerque's livestock-related zoning laws. Listed below you will also find links to other central New Mexico municipal zoning codes and further resources for raising urban ungulates (hoofed animals).

Albuquerque:

Source: Albuquerque's Comprehensive City Zoning Code

Residential Zone (R-1): The raising of agricultural animals for noncommercial purposes is permitted in zone R-1. Rabbits and similar animals, poultry, and pigeons are allowed -- as are cows, horses, goats, and sheep, provided the number of animals does not exceed one cow or horse for each 10,000 square feet of open lot area, or one sheep or goat for each 4,000 square feet of open lot area (or the equivalent combination). The lot in question must be at least 21,780 square feet.  Animals must be controlled so that they cannot graze on any other premises.  (Animals under four months old are not counted.)

Residential and Agricultural Zone, Semi-Urban Area (RA-1): This zone permits low-density housing and other uses, including agriculture. Commercial agricultural activity is permitted, as are incidental structures, provided the lot has an area of at least one acre.  Cattle, horses, goats, or sheep are permitted, as long as the number of head of cattle or horses does not exceed one for each 10,000 square feet of open lot area, or one sheep or goat for each 4,000 square feet of open lot area (or the equivalent combination).  Animals are not allowed to graze on any other premises. (Animals under four months old are not counted.)

Rural and Open Zone (RO-1): Agricultural activity is permitted, including truck gardening and nurseries, fur-bearing animal farms, the raising of poultry or rabbits, dairy farming, livestock grazing, feeding, and the raising of livestock.  On lots of less than three acres, there must be at least 10,000 square feet of lot area for each cow or horse, and/or at least 2,000 square feet of lot area for each sheep, pig, or goat. (Animals under four months old are not counted.)  Buildings, pens, or corrals for agricultural animals or birds must be at least 20 feet from any existing dwelling.  Sale of agricultural products, including poultry or rabbits, raised on the premises, is permitted. One sign pertaining to the sale of agricultural products raised on the property is allowed, but it must be smaller than eight square feet and may not be illuminated.  (Street-side stands are not allowed for RO-1 Zone, but they are allowed in the Rural and Open Agricultural Zone (RO-20)).

Don't know your zone? No problem! Click here to search for zoning information by address. 

Further Albuquerque zoning information can be found at the Albuquerque Code Enforcement Division and through their Comprehensive City Zoning Code.

Other Central New Mexico Municipal Zoning Codes:

Bernalillo County Code

Town of Bernalillo Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance

Rio Rancho Municipal Code

Santa Fe City Code

Further Resources:

Abq Chicken Keepers Ground on Duke City Fix - This site is obviously focused on chickens, but there are occasional posts about other farm animals as well.

Albuquerque Backyard Farms - A collaborative dedicated to backyard and frontyard farming/gardening, offering workshops and events, some of which are focused on raising animals.

Bernalillo County Open Space 2011 Backyard Farming Series -- Free workshops on a variety of topics including animals.

New Mexico Cattle Growers Association

NMSU 4-H -- Youth can participate in programs focused on farming and ranching, including farm animals of all sorts.

Sunstone Herb Farm -- Raising goats in the South Valley and sharing knowledge of small-scale farming, animal raising and homesteading through workshops.

Urban Farm Online -- National urban farming magazine.

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