With backyard gardening, self-sustainable agriculture and local foods all the rage in Victoria, it’s no wonder that thousands of Victoria’s residents are flocking (pun intended) to urban chickens. You don’t have to drive over the Malahat or out to Sooke for a taste of the country. In fact, you can raise chickens right in downtown Victoria!
From Oak Bay to James Bay to the Gorge and Vic West, we’re hearing from many of the city’s residents who are thinking of raising chickens.
But not so fast.
Before importing your own flock of hens downtown, make sure you’ve got your bases covered. Based on emails and tweets that we’ve gotten, here are the five things every backyard hobbyist (or condo enthusiast) needs to know before raising chickens in Victoria BC:
1. You Don’t Need Very Many Chickens
The City of Victoria’s bylaws state:
It is lawful to keep poultry (chickens, ducks, geese). Roosters are prohibited. There is no maximum number of poultry permitted, but the number must be consistent with use for personal egg consumption.
Keep in mind that each hen will lay one egg per day. That means with a small flock of just three chickens, you could be getting up to three fresh eggs per day. Many British Columbia residents are turning this hobby into a lucrative money-making machine, selling fresh, local eggs for upwards of $5 to $6 per dozen. With chicken feed not being very expensive, these urban chickens are quickly paying for themselves!
Best of all, three or four egg-laying hens do not need very much space. This chicken coop, available with free shipping from Amazon.ca, even has a free-ranged section and a covered porch for Victoria’s sunny-today-but-raining-tomorrow weather. It will look great in a backyard in Saanich or a patio in Esquimalt! Click here to check out the positive reviews and see other coops available on Amazon.
One person reviewed it and wrote “This coop arrives in one big box, and is pretty easy to put together. I had it done within an hour.” Another person bought this urban chicken coop and said, “The dimensions were actually perfect for the area we put the coop and our 4 chickens seem to have enough room.”
2. Think Outside the Chicken Feed
Victoria is called the brunch capital of Canada. Everyone in Victoria loves their brunch. So do your chickens. Your backyard hens need to eat a special diet so they grow, avoid disease and lay a lot of eggs. We love this premium chicken food from Kaytee. It’s available in British Columbia and has high levels of calcium for strong eggshells.
But here’s a side benefit that many people don’t think about when contemplating raising chickens in Victoria: You can also feed your chickens kitchen scraps and garden clippings. It’s a great way to recycle organic waste and boost your composting, and can help to create nutrient-rich natural fertilizer if you also enjoy gardening.
3. Check the Rules
Don’t forget to check Victoria’s bylaws for raising chickens. It differs depending on where you live. For example, Oak Bay caps you at 10 hens while Esquimalt limits homeowners to owning just seven urban chickens.
Click here for rules from Saanich. Note that you will need to register your hens with the city so that they know you’re raising backyard poultry.
Click here for rules from Oak Bay. From the district: “The District bylaws set out all requirements for keeping backyard chickens, including the size and location of the coop and other details. These bylaws protect the health of people living in the area and ensure the hens are treated humanely.”
Additionally, your backyard chickens can’t make a run for it. If your hens escape, the city can charge you $150 in fines and animal control offers can capture trespassing chickens.
4. Be Prepared for Everything
“I was a little surprised at how loud they can squawk sometimes,” one woman told the Vancouver Sun. Don’t make the same mistake. We recommend brushing up on your basic knowledge and getting stocked. The following resources are poultryOne-approved and will get you started in no time: