Eggs-ellent news: Urban hen program set to hatch in Calgary

Mar 9 2022, 8:28 pm

If you’d love to own farm animals but are stuck living in the city, we’ve got some good news for you.

Your dream of enjoying farm-fresh eggs every morning could soon be a reality, as Calgarians will be able to apply for an urban livestock licence to keep hens in their backyards.

According to a press release from the City of Calgary, a much-anticipated new program will recognize urban hens as licensed pets. This is being done under the updated Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO) Bylaw, which went into effect on January 1, 2022, and aligns with national care guidelines. It is structured similarly to other municipalities across Canada that have successfully implemented urban hen programs.

“We heard from Calgarians that modern pet ownership means more than just caring for cats and dogs,” said Jennifer Lawlor, Strategic Services Leader, Calgary Community Standards, in the release.

“The urban hen program introduces urban livestock licensing and regulation to Calgarians, ensuring proper housing, care conditions, and opportunities to address any community-based concerns are incorporated,” continues Lawlor.

The updated RPO Bylaw recognizes that pet ownership in Calgary has evolved, and it includes the expansion of licensing that will also oversee the regulation of pigeon and beekeeping this year.

Calgarians can apply for an urban livestock licence to keep backyard hens in the city beginning March 21, 2022.

Those interested in applying will need to ensure excellent hen keeping, training, and caretaking in order to meet application criteria, including:

  • Be 18+ years old, or have a parent or guardian apply on their behalf
  • Complete approved hen keeping and care training
  • Own the property hens will be kept on, or have written expressed content from the property owner
  • Acquire a free Premise Identification Number from the Government of Alberta Confirm the number of hen licences requested (the RPO Bylaw requires ownership of between two to four, as hens are group animals)
  • Applicants will also need to acquire a pre-application enquiry file number from The City of Calgary Planning and Development, depending on their site plan for where hens will be kept. Full details about the program and a coop checklist are available on calgary.ca to guide applicants through the process.

It’s important to note that roosters are not permitted (so there’s no need to worry about cock-a-doodle-dooing at the crack of dawn), and hens cannot be any younger than 16 weeks old.

urban hens

Courtesy of The City of Calgary

The City says that the new program will accept up to 100 applicants in its first year and, if there are more than 100 applicants, the lottery system will randomize applications once intake has closed. The first 100 applications selected from the lottery will then be processed.

If necessary, a waitlist of additional applicants will be also created through the lottery system. The City notes that waitlisted applications could either be processed in 2022 or as part of the 2023 application intake.

The urban livestock licence lottery opens at 11 am on Monday, March 21, at calgary.ca/pets, and will close on Monday, April 18, 2022, at 11:59 pm.

“This gives Calgarians interested in the program enough time to understand program requirements and compile information needed for their application,” said the City, which is important because this is the only opportunity for Calgarians to apply for a hen keeping licence this year.

If you’re planning on taking advantage of this program, don’t be too hasty and run out and get your chickens just yet. The City says that applicants will not be able to acquire hens until their urban livestock licence is approved, and peace officers will first conduct an inspection of the backyard and chicken coop/run prior to approval.

Once approval is granted, licensed hen keepers must ensure that their livestock remains in a coop or an enclosed run, and stay on the licensed property.

Learn more about this program on the City of Calgary’s website, and may all your urban farming dreams come true!

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