Toronto backyard hens

You can now keep hens in your backyard in Toronto

Starting today, people with backyards in neighbourhoods like Parkdale, Leslieville, Bloor West Village and the Beaches can have their very own chickens to adore and / or eat stuff that comes out of them.

It's a great time to be an animal lover in Toronto, my friends – and an even greater time for farm-fresh eggs every morning.

The city's new Urban HensTO pilot program, which runs from today until March 2, 2021, makes it legal for residents in Wards 5 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore), 13 (Parkdale-High Park), 21 (St. Paul’s) and 32 (Beaches-East York) to keep "up to four hens for the purposes of enjoyment and egg production."

There are strict rules, of course, when it comes owning farm animals in such a massive city – one of which has to do with the gender of your birds.

Male chickens (roosters) are forbidden city wide, as are "cute and fuzzy chicks" under the age of four months old.

Prior to four months, the city says it's impossible to tell whether a chick is a hen or a rooster. People may also be more inclined to abandon a chick at this age, when it becomes (slightly) less adorable.

Furthermore, hens can only be used for personal egg production and enjoyment. You cannot kill and eat these chickens, nor can you give away or sell the eggs they provide.

Potential chicken parents must live in a house or townhouse with a backyard, reside in an eligible area of the city, construct a coop in compliance with local zoning requirements and register their hens with the city.

There's also limit of four hens per property, though the city suggests keeping at least two "as they are very social creatures."

Congratulations, urban farmers, and good luck. I for one can't wait to see someone bringing a chicken to the vet on the TTC. 

Lead photo by

Mack Male


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