Urban Hen Keeping Program
In March 2021, Innisfail Town Council passed a bylaw to initiate an Urban Hen Pilot Project.
After receiving feedback from the public about the pilot program, Administration brought forward a draft bylaw to establish a permanent Urban Hen Program in Innisfail at the April 24, 2023 Council Meeting. On May 8, Council gave the third and final reading to the Urban Hen Keeping Bylaw 1710-2023.
To learn more about the new program, read below.
Urban Hen Keeping Bylaw (1710-2023)
A copy of the Urban Hen Keeping Bylaw (1710-2023) can be downloaded here.
Urban Hen Keeping Program Guidelines
SITE REQUIREMENTS FOR HEN COOP AND RUN
- An approved site may house only one coop and run (hen enclosure).
- A hen enclosure must be located within the rear yard of the lot behind a detached or semi-detached dwelling as follows:
- A minimum 3.0m (10ft) from a dwelling unit.
- A minimum 1.0m (3.2ft) from any lot line.
- A minimum 1.0m (3.2ft) from any other buildings.
- A minimum 3.60m (12ft) from any street adjacent to the property.
- Rear yards must be fully enclosed with fencing at least 5 feet (1.82m) in height.
- Some properties, due to the size of a backyard, existing structures, or other factors may not be deemed suitable for urban hen keeping through the application process.
NUMBER OF HENS AND ENCLOSURE SIZE
- Approved sites must keep a minimum of two hens and a maximum of four hens.
- Roosters are not permitted.
- Young hens (also called pullets) shall not be younger than 16 weeks old.
- The Coop must provide each urban hen with at least 0.37 square metres (4 sqft) of interior floor area.
- The run must provide each hen least 0.92 square metres (10 sqft) of outdoor enclosure.
- The enclosure must be no larger than 10 metres square (108 sqft) in area.
- The enclosure must be no more than 2 meters (6.5 ft) in height.
- All coops must contain sufficient perch locations, have adequate ventilation, and be weather and predator-proof.
- The site and enclosure must be properly maintained to prevent negative impacts, including but not limited to attracting nuisance animals, and excessive smells or noise.
STANDARD OF CARE
- Hen sites shall adhere to good management and husbandry practices, maintain hens in such a condition to prevent distress, disease, and welfare issues.
- Hens require appropriate food, liquid (unfrozen) water, shelter, light, warmth, ventilation, veterinary care and opportunities for essential behaviours such as scratching, pecking, dust-bathing and roosting, in order to be comfortable and healthy.
- Animal Control must be notified immediately of any disease or welfare issues that arise that may affect the public and the steps taken to rectify the situation.
- In the winter months, runs are required to be wrapped. Runs can be wrapped with a hard material like corrugated plastic or a soft material like polyethylene film (poly wrap) or a tarp.
- Adequate ventilation in the run and coop area is important to reduce moisture and mitigate the conditions that contribute to frostbite.
- Commercially manufactured coops and runs may need to be modified to ensure proper ventilation and insulation.
WASTE & DISPOSAL
- Manure must be removed, discarded, and/or properly composted to prevent nuisance complaints.
- Manure must be stored in a fully enclosed container, and no more than 3 cubic feet of manure stored at any time.
- There is to be no on-site slaughter or euthanizing of hens within Town limits.
- Removal methods include (but are not limited to) humane euthanasia by a veterinarian, relocation to a farm, or taking hens to a licensed abattoir.
- The Applicant / License must complete an accepted urban hen keeping course.
- The Town recommends the “Chickens 101” course provided by River City Chickens Collective, an informative course for urban chicken keepers. This course is approved by municipalities including Edmonton, St Albert, Leduc and Airdrie for application for a backyard hen-keeping licence. http://www.rivercitychickens.org/
- An initial inspection of the coop, hens, and site will be conducted prior to final site approval and license being granted from the Town of Innisfail.
- The Licensee(s) shall make themselves and the enclosure available for inspection on reasonable request from Municipal Enforcement Officers.
- The Licensee must comply with all Provincial regulations around the keeping of hens.
- The Province of Alberta requires all owners of poultry to register their flocks into the provincial database and obtain a Premise Identification (PID) Number. The PID enables the province to keep track of livestock site locations in case of potential disease outbreak. The Province will maintain communication with site owners should any information or incidents occur that would require site owners to take action.
- Municipal Enforcement Officers will respond to all complaints and initiate investigations when warranted.
- When enforcement or other animal husbandry issues arise, Town administration will work with hen keepers, neighbours, and other external stakeholders to ensure they are addressed and resolved in a timely manner.
- Failing to comply with the guidelines and regulations of the Urban Hen Keeping Bylaw may result in a fines, or a licence being revoked.
To download a copy of the guidelines, click here.
Hen Enclosure Guidelines
The hen enclosure must be:
- Located within the rear yard of the lot behind a detached or semi-detached dwelling
- No larger than 10m² (108 sq ft) in floor area
- No more than 2m (6.5ft) in height
- Not attached to a house or any other building
- If applicants plan on hardwiring electrical into their coop, they will need to apply for a Residential Electrical Permit
- Minimum of 2 hens, maximum of 4 hens
- Coop area must be minimum 4 sq ft per hen (0.37m²) with direct access to the outdoor run and adjustable ventilation
- Coop area is permitted to overlap or be raised above run area
- Run area must be minimum10 sq ft per hen (90.046 – 0.093m²)
- Nest box of at least 1 per 4 hens, 12” x 12” size
All households interested in participating in the Urban Hen Keeping Program must submit the completed application form and include the following:
- Confirmation the proposed hen enclosure dimensions and location as shown in a site sketch demonstrating compliance with hen enclosure size and location requirements.
- Proof of training – completion certificate or proof of registration in an approved urban hen keeping course. Training must be completed before the applicant will receive a licence.
- Confirmation of the proposed hen enclosure location as shown in a site sketch demonstrating compliance with backyard setback requirements.
- A Premises Identification Number (PID number) as required by the Alberta Animal Health Act.
After the application has been submitted:
- Town staff will review the application for completeness.
- Town staff will contact the applicant to provide initial approval to proceed with the hen enclosure installation, at this point the initial $65.00 fee must be paid.
- With initial approval granted, each applicant can begin installing their hen enclosure and upon completion schedule an inspection with a Community Peace Officer.
- Once applicants have passed the initial inspections and successfully completed the approved training, they will be granted an Urban Hen Keeping Licence.
- The licence holder may now keep hens on their property in accordance with the Urban Hen Keeping Bylaw and Hen Keeping Guidelines.
Click here to download the application form. Please complete the application and attach all supporting documents to make a complete application package. All submitted materials must be clear, legible and precise.
Applicants must email their application to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop it off at the Town Office (4943-53 St, Innisfail, AB)