Later this month, the city’s community services committee will consider a pilot project to allow homeowners to raise hens in their backyards, but it’s too early for Ottawa residents to start counting their chickens.
Since they didn’t feel they had enough time to develop a complete set of guidelines for the project, advocates of the plan have asked that the decision on the pilot project be deferred until the end of the summer.
It is currently illegal for Ottawa residents to raise chickens in their backyards. Adrian and Lyssa Rhodes would like to be able to raise between four and six chickens on their property for the purposes of egg production.
A mature hen will reliably lay one egg per day for at least two years, said Adrian.
Before moving forward with the pilot project, Lyssa said they still need to work on policy issues like the size and placements of coops.
The pilot project would track egg production, deaths, problems with predators, and other issues.
Based on the experience of urban hens in other cities, Adrian said they are expecting less than one per cent of homeowners to start raising chickens. Even if it was a huge success, they expect fewer than 7,000 homes take part.
To keep noise complaints down, people would not be allowed to keep roosters. Hens are very quiet, said Lyssa.
A well-constructed coop should keep predators away from the chickens. Given that coyotes and raccoons could have their pick of wild prey in the greenbelt and beyond, Lyssa doesn’t believe the chickens will attract predators.
While there a concern over the smell that chicken droppings produce, Lyssa said it is no different than keeping a dog or cat.