A decision on whether owning backyard chickens will be allowed in Plano has been delayed until next budget season, June 2021.

The push to delay any further action on an ordinance for hens in yards under 1.95 acres stems from a staff funding request to hire an additional animal services officer and allow commercial coops if backyard chickens were given the green light.

Staff are already strained in the animal services department, director Jamey Cantrell said during a Sept. 28 council meeting, and chicken captures take much more work than typical domesticated animals. This is due to their ability to fly and unresponsiveness to human calls, he said.

Collin County has also said that it cannot help with the capture or keeping of chickens from Plano residents, placing any at-large animals in the city's hands, according to Cantrell.

Other options that surfaced during a June council discussion, such as using the specific permit process or getting neighbor approval to decide who can house hens on smaller properties, were not recommended by city staff.

Plano staff captured 10 chickens and took in seven owner surrenders in fiscal year 2018-19, representing the largest intake since 2014. With approval from the city to house hens, those numbers would likely go up and could possibly double, Cantrell said. Not responding to citizen complaints or refusing surrendered chickens could lead to feral chicken flocks or property damage, he said.

Instead, staff recommended leaving the livestock ordinance as is for the time being. Council members agreed to a delay any decision until next year, largely due to the budgetary impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the city's hiring freeze in response to the crisis. Staff will return next budget season to continue the discussion on a separate ordinance for chickens.

Neighboring cities Frisco, Richardson, Carrollton, Allen and Murphy allow hens in nonagricultural spaces with a range of regulations and fees.