Can I keep chickens on my property?

Thanks to a recent amendment to the Zoning Regulations, any residential property from 7,500 square feet to one acre in area can have up to six hens, with no roosters.  Up to six additional hens are permitted for each acre or portion thereof.  For example, a half-acre lot can have up to six hens and a one and one half-acre lot can have up to 12 hens.  The hens must be contained within a yard or pen, and must be housed to the rear of the main house.

It is a popular misconception that a rooster is necessary for hens to lay eggs.  This is not true.  Hens will begin to lay eggs at six months of age and will happily lay eggs for many years afterwards, with or without a rooster.  They will slow down or even stop during the short days of winter, when moulting, or during times of illness or stress.  You can encourage them to lay during the winter by putting a light on a timer to simulate a longer day but be forewarned, hens are born with every egg that they will ever lay and if you force them to lay all winter, they will live long after they stop laying eggs and will simply be one more mouth to feed.  Some advice:  skip the light bulb, let nature take its course, and you won’t resent the hens being a burden later in life, or if you think of them as pets, having to make a hard choice.  Remember, you only get six hens per acre, whether they are laying or not.

Try stockpiling some eggs before winter sets in.  Unwashed eggs can last for up to six months in the refrigerator if you do not scrub the protective coating (bloom) off of them, provided you wash them before using them.  Another popular option is to scramble and freeze them.