Moving To The Country: What You Need To Know About Keeping Livestock

Are you moving out to the country? Many people are attracted to country living because of the prospect of owning their own animals. Sheep, chicken, goats, and even cows can be maintained on a hobby farm that is outside of the city -- but just because real estate is in the country doesn't mean that it can automatically support all types of livestock. Here are a few things you need to know.

Rights Don't Always Transfer from the Previous Owner

Don't assume that just because the previous owner has livestock that you can have livestock as well. A prior owner may actually have been grandfathered in when they purchased their property or when regulations changed. You need to check the current local regulations if you want to be absolutely certain that you can keep animals. Real estate agents aren't always current on these regulations, as they can change from day to day.

Zoning Isn't the Only Restriction

A property can be zoned for livestock but still not allow livestock within a certain area. There are other restrictions that could exist that you need to know. Some of them may still let you have livestock but will only let you have livestock in a specific way. For instance, many areas won't let you have a single goat, as they can be loud; instead, you need at least two to keep each other company. Other areas might allow you to keep bees, but only a certain distance away from your perimeter and your neighbors. All these restrictions together are usually highly specific.

Lot Size Is Incredibly Important

Among restrictions, the one that is most commonly going to give you issues is lot size. In general, each animal needs a certain regulated amount of land. For instance, having a cow might require at least five acres of land. Many individuals find themselves on property that technically allows livestock but with a property that is too small to support it. These regulations cannot be altered; the lot size is determined by what would be healthy for the animal and what would be acceptable for the neighbors.

How can you make sure that the property you're interested in will let you have the animals that you want? If the regulations in your area are complex, a consultation with a real estate lawyer will usually be worthwhile. Real estate lawyers focus on the legal side of real estate transactions, as opposed to real estate professionals who may focus primarily on sales.