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Backyard chicken facts

Vancouver legalised backyard hens in June as part of the city’s food policy and campaign to be the greenest city…

By Jacqueline Ronson , in City , on November 25, 2010 Tags: , , ,

A Cochin hen free ranges in an East Vancouver yard

Vancouver legalised backyard hens in June as part of the city’s food policy and campaign to be the greenest city in the world by 2020. It is legal to keep chickens in Victoria, Esquimalt, Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond and New Westminster. Chickens are also permitted in many major U.S. cities, including Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

Related: Backyard chicken coops skirt rules

Key regulations

Regulation aims to deal with possible concerns related to animal welfare, health and safety, aesthetics, noise and smell.

According the Vancouver’s Animal Control Bylaw, hen owners must:

  • Register,
  • Provide essentials for healthy life and behaviours,
  • Keep hens in an enclosed area at all times,
  • Keep no more than four hens,
  • Not keep roosters or chicks, slaughter hens, or sell eggs, manure or meat.

The city’s Zoning and Development Bylaw outlines regulations concerning coop dimensions and placement in the yard.


  • A coop from costs $650, and accommodates up to three hens.
  • A hen costs between $10 and $20.
  • One owner said he spent $50 on food for three hens over six months. This cost can be reduced by feeding hens kitchen scraps.
  • Veterinary bills can be expensive. In the event of illness or injury, owners must consider how much they are willing to spend to treat the animal.


  • The City of Vancouver’s guide to basic chicken care suggests at least one hour per day for all aspects of hen care and maintenance.
  • Owners said they spend one to five minutes per day on maintenance, with some extra time devoted to cleaning on a weekly or monthly basis. They also said chickens can be left alone over weekends.


  • A hen can produce up to six eggs per week.
  • However, hens can go for extended periods without laying any eggs. This can relate to weather, stress, illness, age, or other factors.


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