by Claudia Chan | While backyard chickens are relatively new in Vancouver, they’re just a feathered facet of normality in many countries. In my travels, I recall being woken up by the cock-a-doodling of roosters (against the blaring of prayers) in countries like Tunisia and Indonesia. Chickens are globally prevalent, often kept in the courtyards of families or let out to roam free. In most countries you will often find them by the beach, walking around restaurants, and even walking down the street. For many cultures, the fowl is a staple food. They’re easy and cheap to raise and maintain, and not only do they provide good meat and bones for stock, they also produce wholesome eggs.
In Vancouver, I find that chickens often go unnoticed because keepers are only allowed hens in their coops, and hens don’t cluck as loudly as roosters do (thankfully). It also seems that keeping chickens hasn’t quite become as popular as one would assume, given their myriad benefits. Curious, I decided to find out more about backyard chickens in Vancouver by paying a visit to some neighbours who just happen to be very happy owners of a couple of hens.
In the photo above you can see Russell Gendron (red toque), Dylan Jones (short hair, hoodie) and Tresler Jones (long hair), three Vancouverites who have been tending to chickens for just under a year now in Strathcona. They tell me it’s been well worth it. Each hen produces an egg a day, so they collect a decent supply for their house. Russell took on this homesteading project when he saw some friends do it after the city passed a by-law allowing it in 2010. He started doing some research of his own on coop building, city regulations, and animal care.
Each home is allowed a maximum of four hens (no chicks) for egg-laying and they must be housed in a coop with a proper roof, fencing, nesting box and ventilation (specs must adhere to strict design requirements). Building the coop was the most laborious part of it all, Russell says. Otherwise, they’re pretty easy to look after. After the hardest part was done, he filled out an online registry, bought some chickens off Craigslist for $10 each, and brought them back to their new home. Ever since, the household has saved on grocery store trips and eating fresh, and tasty eggs sourced straight from the backyard.
If you’re feeling ever so inspired to raise some chickens of your own or you’d like to learn more about the process, there’s a wealth of resources available online available. Have a gander at Backyard Chickens, Chickens in Vancouver, Daily Eggs, Village Vancouver, and City Farmer. Alternatively, go visit the nice folks at the Homesteader’s Emporium; they’ve got everything you need to start raising backyard chickens.
Claudia Chan is an advocate of all things green. Born and raised in Vancouver, she is inspired by the work of local urban farmers, eco artists and policy makers who make this city the most lush and livable to work and play in. Her mission with Scout and her “Greenlight” column is to impart her enthusiasm for bike lanes, community gardens, farmers’ markets and more to her fellow Vancouverites.