A livestock welfare organization is running a virtual workshop to teach Calgarians to properly care for urban chickens as the city prepares to grant its first 100 backyard hen licenses.
The city is accepting applications until April 18 from residents who want to keep two to four hens in their backyard, as part of the city’s new urban hen program. Only 100 applicants will be processed in the program’s first year, so a lottery system will be used if more apply.
The city said there was strong interest from Calgarians after applications opened March 21, but wouldn’t say how many have been received.
A key component of the application for backyard hens is the completion of approved hen-keeping and care training. However, the city will let the first 100 households provide proof of training shortly after they are approved.
Typically, certification from the training will be required with the application, alongside information about the proposed structure for the hens, the location of the coop and other details.
“Hens do require a lot of care and a lot of work, including the building of an appropriate coop that’s going to be good year-round in Calgary,” said Annemarie Pedersen, executive director of Alberta Farm Animal Care.
“We had that heat dome last year, you have to have a coop that has proper ventilation and can take care of those animals, but we also had -35 C this winter . . . They need to be checked on every day.”
Alberta Farm Animal Care is running a two-part workshop April 12 and 14 for aspiring chicken owners. The sessions will start at 7 pm and will be recorded for registrants who can’t attend live.
Everyone taking the course has to pass an exam and nearly 60 households have already registered, said Pedersen.
“The city wants to know anyone who has chickens has taken some basic training and understands how to care for their chickens — what they need to eat, understands what the bylaws in the city are and what that requires of them, how to build a coop and all of those kinds of things,” Pedersen said.
Chickens also need to be kept safe from disease and predation, two other topics discussed in the workshop, Pedersen said. Potential chicken owners can register for the workshop at Alberta Farm Animal Care’s website.
Owning urban chickens gained in popularity during the pandemic because of the heightened awareness of food insecurity and dependence on the supply chain, as well as the reconnection people had with simpler things such as baking their own bread, Pedersen said.
“It’s a nice thing to see where your food comes from. And I think people enjoy chickens as a companion animal or a pet,” she said.
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