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Free range households: First 100 applicants receive licences for Calgary’s urban hen program

Click to play video: 'Training required for YYC backyard hen program' Training required for YYC backyard hen program
WATCH: Cassandra Kirkpatrick with Alberta Farm Animal Care joins Global News Calgary to discuss the new backyard hen program being rolled out and the certification program requirements. – Apr 9, 2022

One hundred Calgary households will soon be clucking with chickens as part of the Urban Hen program.

With more than 200 applicants in under two months, last week officials did a random lottery draw to pick which lucky residents will be given the opportunity to expand their families. According to city officials, those applicants were notified this week.

“After council approved the urban hen program last year, they asked that we limit it to 100 households for the first year, and the application period just closed last week and we notified the lucky applicants this week,” Jennifer Lawlor, acting leader of strategic services with Calgary Community Standards for the City of Calgary, said in an interview on 770CHQR on Friday.

“We wanted to ensure that we were picking people equitably, and so we did a random draw of all of the applicants that completed their full application.”

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Read more: Calgary’s backyard hen program gets set to hatch

Lawlor said the city received a total of 204 applications, 134 of which were fully completed and eligible.

However, the city isn’t taking owning a hen lightly. Lawlor noted that residents looking to add hens to their households had to go through a number of steps before being entered in the draw.

“We asked for a site plan and details of the housing and we also asked that they completed some training relating to hen keeping and care,” she said. “That’s really important so they knew how to take care of the hens, what to do if they’re sick, how to make sure that the coops are built in a way to prevent predator access and ensure that they’re no nuisance to the community.”

The 100 residents who will be receiving these new licences will be the proud owners of up to four hens, depending on their land size.

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“So generally people will be allowed to have two to four hens,” Lawlor said. “You need to have more than one, they need a buddy or two.

“There are some cases where people might be able to have more if they have a larger property size in the city.”

Read more: What you need to know about backyard chickens

Lawlor added that residents who receive these licences must follow specific steps to properly care for their newest additions, including ensuring their hens have a coop, a proper heat source, adequate ventilation and an outdoor run.

As for what residents can do with their chickens, well Lawlor said people are invited to enjoy the perks of owning these backyard animals, including harvesting and selling their eggs.

“If people choose to give away or sell their eggs, they just need to ensure they’re following provincial and federal guidelines for that,” she said.

Lawlor added that residents are not allowed to slaughter their hens within city limits.

Read more: Okotoks chicken owners praise Calgary’s urban hen rules: ‘It’s been lovely and not stinky’

A waitlist of any additional applicants has also been created through the lottery system. The waitlisted applications may be processed in 2022 if those already contacted do not wish to go through with their licensing, or waitlisted applicants will instead be entered into the 2023 application intake.

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