University of Vermont AAHS

Livestock Laws


Agricultural Protection Acts
Brand Laws
Cruelty to Animals Acts
Equine Activity Statutes
Equine Infectious Anemia
Helmet Laws
Liens for Care of Horses
Liens for Service to Horses
Livestock Laws
Recreational Use Statutes
Riding on Public Roads
Quarantine & Health Laws

Livestock laws are a collection of statutes that state legislatures have enacted over the years to regulate the ownership and control over various forms of livestock.

The days of the unregulated open range are long gone in most of America. Instead, modern society has a complicated set of laws to regulate the inter-relationship of livestock, people and property. Most states have a statute that defines what is a "legal fence." If a fence complies with the legal requirements, that protects the livestock owner from liability for damage done by a stray cow. Conversely, if the livestock of a neighbor damages crops, the right of the farmer to be compensated may depend upon whether his property was fenced in by a "legal fence." In other words, some states have "fence your livestock in" laws while others have "fence the livestock of others out" laws. Frequently, a single state will have both kinds of laws and make them available on an option basis by local election.

There are also complicated regulations that speak to the question what are the legal rights and duties of the parties when stray livestock are captured by someone other than the owner. Who may keep them, for how long, and with what responsibility for seeking out the true owner? What happens if the owner cannot be found after a reasonable period of time? Can the "taker up" of the stray force the owner to pay for the care of them?

(Scroll down to view state statutes.)

Home

AAHS Site

Contact Us

What's New

Law Cases for Horsemen

HorseLaw Articles

Horsemanship Safety Articles

AMEA Articles

Ask Lerlene

There often are statutes that regulate the obligations of livestock owners to keep their livestock off of public highways and that provide for liability when livestock wander onto the public road and collide with a motor vehicle.

There are also laws that regulate railroads and seek to minimize in various ways the damage trains can do to meandering livestock. Sometimes, the railroad is required to fence in its right of way. Statutes also frequently address the question of legal liability when a train kills livestock.

Finally, there are lengthy provisions in the laws regulating fences that run along property lines. How is the cost of construction and maintenance to be allocated between the owners? What should happen if one owner wants and need a fence, while the owner of the adjoining property does not? Frequently, statutes provide for a local committee, called "fence viewers" to examine the situation and to allocate responsibility for these types of fences.

The related topic of identifying livestock by brands is dealt with in a separate segment:  Brand Laws.

Livestock Laws were first posted in the middle 1990s.  They were reviewed and updated as needed  in December 2001.  Posted December 15, 2001.

All states have some form of livestock laws.

 

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado

Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii

Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas

Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan

Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana

Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey

New Mexico

New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania
Rhode Island

 

 

South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia

Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming