Urban Chicken Guide and FAQ
The Vancouver Chicken Bylaw:
Other Municipalities: (see http://urbanchickens.pbworks.com/North-American-Chicken-Laws to search for your city) OR just go on your city's bylaw page and read their animal control bylaw
Burnaby – There is nothing in the animal control bylaw prohibiting chickens, however there is vague language in the zoning bylaw that keeps them from most areas of the city
North Vancouver District – In Process!
North Vancouver Township – Yes! 8 Hens!
West Vancouver – No
Richmond – Not unless you have ½ acre or more
Surrey – Not unless you have an acre or more
Port Coquitlam – Yes- Not allowed to be “at large”
Delta – Only on “large residential lots”
Maple Ridge – Not in residentially-zoned areas
What do chickens eat?
Chicken feed – This is often in the form of nutrient-balanced mash or mash pellets. This is $10-20 per 20 kg bag depending on whether you get conventional or organic.
Laying hens typically eat mash pellets with 16% protein. This is the most common and productive formula. If you have chicks, make sure to get chick feed, which is lower in calcium. Feed should always stay dry or it will get moldy.
Chickens self-regulate how much they eat, so keep a constant supply of feed and they will decide when they've had enough.
Water – Keep it clean and always available. I recommend 2 tablespoons of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar per gallon of water to ward off parasites and to help with digestion.
Chicken scratch – This is another name for whole grains and legumes that have been dried and cracked. Chickens love to peck at scratch if you scatter a handful of it. It's not necessary, but your chickens will appreciate it and it's a good way to summon them.
Table scraps – Chickens will typically pick and choose what they want to eat, and they leave the rest. Don't worry too much about what is and isn't good to feed them. You'll figure it out pretty quickly. Just avoid raw meat and be careful of teabags with staples in them. The internet has plenty of extensive DOs and DONTs lists if you want to be really careful.
Weeds, slugs, bugs – Anything you pull out of the garden can go right into the coop. Again, the chickens will decide what they like. The rest will become bedding or just rot away.
Oyster shell, crushed eggshell – These provide added calcium and are rarely needed if you are providing fortified feed, but if your eggs' shells are looking weak, it can't hurt to give the hens a supplement. If you use eggshells, let them dry out or bake them and then crush them.
Grit – Hens have a gizzard instead of teeth. As they eat small stones, chickens collect them in the gizzard, which grinds their food. After a while the stones wear down and pass through. As long as there is some coarse gravel around, chickens will get enough grit. This is available for cheap, however, at many feed stores.
Will hens lay eggs without a rooster?
Like many animals, female chickens produce eggs whether or not a male fertilizes them.
How often do chickens lay eggs?
A healthy productive hen will lay about 5-6 eggs per week. This is sometimes interrupted by various natural pauses such as broodiness (a hormonal mothering instinct that can set in for a few weeks), molting (renewing feathers), or just being under the weather. Winter production is bolstered by having a light in order to extend the daylight. Some breeds lay a few more eggs than others, so don't hold them to any expectations.
How long do hens lay?
Hens will lay eggs from about 6 months to 5 years of age. This is approximate and can vary from bird to bird. As they get older, hens will produce fewer – but larger – eggs.
Where can I buy laying hens?
First, join VillageVancouver.ca and see postings from local members on chickens for sale, feed runs, advice, etc. Other options: Believe it or not, a search on Craigslist brings up many chickens for sale by farmers in the Fraser Valley. And a fun weekend outing is Fraser Valley Auctions (all kinds of farm animals) at 21801-56th Ave.56 Ave. Langley, BC V2Y 2M9.
Do some research on the breed, their laying capacity, weather hardiness, temperament, etc. McMurray Hatchery's website has a fairly comprehensive online guide to chickens that is worth a look.
What do I do if I have to go away for a few days?
It is important to make sure your hens have food and clean water, and you'll generally want to collect eggs daily. This makes for a perfect neighborly agreement. They tend the hens and get fresh eggs.
If you are away for a long period, you can disassemble the coop (the Vancooper only requires 30 minutes of assembly) and move it to a friend's backyard.
I sometimes leave my hens for 3 days with food and water and they're perfectly happy.
Feed and Supply Stores :
The Homesteader's Emporium:
649 E. Hastings St. at Heatley St. in Vancouver. Rick is a great local source for all things chicken (including my coops!)
Marks Pet Stop :
2nd and Commercial Drive. Vancouver, BC V5N 4A6, (604) 255-4844. Mark sells organic layer mash
Feed & Farm Supply
Otter Coop (call to see if they carry organic)
3600 248 Street, Aldergrove-(604) 856-7011
12343 Harris Road. Pitt Meadows. 604- 465-5651