Did you see the size of that chicken?

You can probably guess from the heading that I loved the classic Emilio Estivez movie “Young Guns” which had a great scene relating to the size of “that chicken”. Anyway, about a year or so ago, I picked up 4 one day old chickens for my young children to watch grow and provide us with eggs. The two hens that my daughter named Steve just so happen to be the best egg producers (thankfully not roosters) but also the noisiest. Whilst my neighbours are extremely understanding and are easily placated with a dozen fresh eggs, given the popularity of backyard poultry I thought I would take a look at the relevant requirements for keeping chickens.

Did you see the size of that chicken?

Councils publish guidelines for the keeping of poultry.

Firstly, the Hen House must meet the requirements of the Exempt and Complying Development Codes otherwise you will need to seek approval from Council. For those interested, see specifically Subdivision 2.41 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

Secondly, consider the number of hens that you would like to keep. Generally, the maximum number that you can keep in a residential zone without consent is 10.

Thirdly, in some residential zones, the Hen House should not be more than 3m above the existing ground level, must not have a floor area more than 15m2 and must be located in the rear yard.

Bulletin Bites – Lessons from the legislation:

  • Don’t have a rooster in a residential area (not necessarily the law but basic common sense). Roosters are a fruitful source of neighbourhood disputes.
  • Consider the size of the Hen House and ensure that it is located away from the property boundary.
  • Check your certificate of title to ensure that there is no covenant prohibiting the keeping of poultry.

From my experience, a dozen fresh eggs go a long way towards maintaining friendly neighbourhood relations (and a good supply of “Chook-Sitters” if you have to go away for any period of time).