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Raising chickens in Montreal, not for everybody

WATCH: Urban agriculture enthusiasts are embracing chicken coops in Montreal. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, one organization worries that city hens and roosters will be abandoned.

Some Montrealers are skittish about keeping chickens in their backyard.

But Alex McLean says “in terms of smell, as long as [the chicken coop] is well maintained, you won’t have any of the smells.”

He’s co-founder of Poc Poc, a group dedicated to encouraging city dwellers to keep hens at home. McLean thinks too many people are cut off from their food production.

“The more we get people connected with their food,” he reasons, “the more they’ll have better eating habits, the more they’re going to make interesting choices for the environment.”

Poc Poc launched a pilot project in 2017. They distributed 50 chicken coops to families in Rosemont-Petite Patrie and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve where hens are allowed under certain conditions.

This year, the group wants to go further.

“We’re launching our new coop so that it can be available across Canada,” says McLean.

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He says daily maintenance is simple.

“It takes about 10 minutes every day. “You need to clean a bit of the coop, obviously, there are things you need to clean, and you pick up the eggs every day — that’s really important.”

And the hens aren’t noisy so neighbours need not worry.

“The ‘cock-a-doodle-do’ is the rooster,” he laughs. “A hen doesn’t make any noise.”

But the SPCA says families shouldn’t have hens or roosters in the city because many people can’t take care of them, or don’t want them after they’ve stopped laying eggs. Last year, the SPCA took in 30 abandoned chickens.

“Thirty and counting,” SPCA’s head of animal advocacy Allana Devine tells Global News. “Certainly, as this becomes more popular, we imagine we’ll see more and more. ”

It’s a problem other cities are having.

“Miami has a team of people that go around and catch chickens and roosters that are running astray.”

The SPCA fears that if raising chickens in the city becomes widespread, that will be one more abandoned species falling on their lap.