Backyard Hen Keeping

Keeping hens can be an exciting, rewarding experience – and can supply you and your family with fresh local eggs. The following information gives you everything you need to get you started.

General requirements

  • Applicants must live in a single family home with a fenced backyard.
  • Only one hen enclosure is permitted at each participating household. An enclosure consists of an indoor coop and an attached outdoor, covered, run area.
  • Each participating household must have at least three hens and a maximum of six hens. Hens must be at least 16 weeks old. Changes to the number of hens must be reported immediately to the City of Leduc Environmental Inspector.
  • Roosters are not permitted.
  • Hens must always remain in a locked enclosure. Free–ranging within the licence holder’s fenced backyard is permitted only under direct supervision.

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The application process 

All individuals interested in participating in the hen keeping pilot program must submit a completed application and submit the following documents with the completed application:

  • Premises Identification Number (PID number) as required by the Alberta Animal Health Act.
  • Proof of training – completion of or registration in an accredited urban hen keeping course. Note training must be completed before the applicant will receive a licence.
  • Confirmation of the proposed hen enclosure location in a site sketch, similar to this sample that demonstrates compliance with setback requirements.
  • A checklist with daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal tasks to prevent disease and to keep disease from spreading should it occur.
  • Identification of a local veterinarian familiar with treating hens.
  • Proof of support and assistance through an established relationship with a mentor. Applicants can find a mentor by contacting any community listed under Resources.
  • Confirmation of neighbour notification. The applicant must notify neighbours with adjacent back yards including those with back yards that are across an alleyway, in writing, of the intent to participate in the Backyard Hen Keeping Pilot Program. The contact information and addresses of notified neighbours are to be listed in the application form. Please note: During the application review the City of Leduc Environmental Inspector will follow up with adjacent neighbours to provide further information on the pilot program and garner approval, subject to any questions or concerns they may have.

After the application has been submitted:

  1. The Environmental Inspector will review each application for completeness and evaluate every submission against the other applications received.
  2. The Environmental Inspector will follow up with the neighbours of short-listed applicants to garner approval subject to any question or concerns they may have, and provide more information as needed. If a neighbour brings forward an issue that cannot be resolved, the application may be rejected at the discretion of the Environmental Inspector. 
  3. The applications of short-listed applicants will then be sent to the City’s Planning and Development Department and Enforcement Services for review. Applicants should provide information on how they intend to moderate the temperature in the coop in the winter months. If heat sources or lighting is proposed the need for an electrical permit can be assessed. Note that heat lamps will not be permitted as they pose a fire risk. Applicants must be prepared to resolve any additional comments or concerns arising from this review
  4. Next, the Environmental Inspector will select Pilot Program participants and provide them with conditional approvals.
  5. With conditional approvals granted, each participant can begin building their hen enclosure and, upon completing construction, schedule an initial inspection with the Environmental Inspector. Note: Planning and Development Services may conduct a separate inspection for the electrical permit, if necessary.
  6. After participants have passed the initial inspections, the Environmental Inspector will grant each participant a hen keeping licence. The licence holders may now keep hens on their properties in accordance with the Hen Keeping Guidelines.

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Building your coop and run

Once your application has received initial approval, you may set up your coop and run in accordance with the submitted site plan and the Backyard Hen Keeping Guidelines. It is strongly recommended that applicants complete the required Hen keeping course prior to starting construction on their hen enclosure.

The hen enclosure:

  • must prevent hens from escaping and other animals from entering,
  • must not exceed a maximum floor area of 9.2 square metres (m2),
  • must include a minimum of:
    • 0.37 m2 of coop area per hen, and
    • 0.92 m2 of run area per hen,
  • must be located a minimum of:
    • 1.2 metres (m) from all adjacent property lines,
    • 1.5 m from the property’s house, and
    • 3 m from windows and doors of the residential structure on the property and any neighbouring house,
  • must be a maximum height of 1.8 m or less,
  • must have adequate ventilation, climate-appropriate roosting platforms/bars, nest boxes, sufficient perch locations, and
  • must be weather and predator proof.
  • Coop dimension table (pdf)

The coop:

  • must be enclosed, insulated, heated and ventilated to function in all seasons (Note: ventilation is recommended at one square foot per hen, at the top of the coop, adjustable, and sheltered from wind, rain and snow. Windows that create a draft at hen level in the winter will not be permitted), and
  • must be constructed and maintained to prevent rodents from entering the structure.

Heating or lighting the coop on a permanent basis may require consultation with the City of Leduc Planning and Development Department in regards to an electrical permit.

The run:

  • must be attached to the coop and secure,
  • covered,
  • sheltered from snow and rain (must be wrapped in the winter), and
  • may be either plant-based (grass, ground cover, etc.) or bare earth.  


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Inspection and enforcement 

  • After the hen enclosure is built, the Environmental Inspector will inspect the work to confirm the structures have been built to the outlined criteria. Additional inspections will be completed bi-annually to ensure the hen enclosure is sufficient in both summer and winter conditions and may be conducted more frequently if a complaint is received.
  • Pilot program participants must be present for inspections of the yard site and/or hen enclosure upon reasonable request by an Environmental Inspector.
  • All complaints will be directed to the Environmental Inspector.
  • Complaints regarding unsightly premise, smell or noise can be subject to further enforcement action by the City of Leduc Enforcement Services under the Community Standards Bylaw 995-2018.
  • Failure to comply with the guidelines at any time will result in the participant’s licence being revoked. Individuals continuing to keep hens without a licence will be subject to further enforcement action by City of Leduc Enforcement Services under the Animal Licencing and Control Bylaw 1019-2019 for keeping a prohibited animal.

Participant licences may become void or be revoked in the following circumstances: 

  • A licence becomes void when any information such as the Applicant Information or Site Information changes, as per the the Backyard Hen Keeping Pilot Project Licence Application. In this case, a new application process must be initiated.
  • Should the Environmental Inspector find a backyard site, hen enclosure or licence holder to be non-compliant with the guidelines at any time, the Environmental Inspector has the authority to revoke that participant’s hen keeping licence. A 14-day written notice will be provided within which time hens and the hen enclosure must be removed from the property. The timeframe for removal may be extended at the discretion of the Environmental Inspector. All costs and associated expenditures related to the removal of hen keeping structures are the responsibility of the participant. The hen keeper will work with the Environmental Inspector and local resources to relocate the hens and dismantle the hen enclosure.
  • The city has the authority to cancel the Backyard Hen Keeping Pilot Program with 14 days’ written notice within which time hens and the hen enclosure must be removed from the property. The timeframe for removal may be extended at the Environmental Inspector’s discretion. All costs and associated expenditures related to the removal of hen keeping structures are the responsibility of the participant.

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Hen care and safety

  • Hen keepers must engage in good management and husbandry practices to prevent diseases and distress.
  • Hen keepers must follow biosecurity procedures recommended by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Please see the National Biosecurity Standards and Biosecurity Principles for Poultry Service Industry Biosecurity Guide.
  • Hens and coops must be inspected regularly for signs of health problems or disease. The Environmental Inspector must be notified immediately of any disease that may affect the public or other hen keepers and the steps that have been taken to rectify the situation.
  • Hens must be provided appropriate food, water, shelter, light, warmth, ventilation, veterinary care and opportunities for essential behaviours such as scratching, pecking, dustbathing, roosting and socializing.
  • Hen enclosures must be kept in good repair and in sanitary conditions to prevent negative impacts including but not limited to: attracting nuisance animals, the spread of food over the property and excessive smells or noise.
  • Leftover feed and manure must be removed and discarded to prevent nuisance odours.
  • In the winter, runs must be wrapped in corrugated plastic, heavy polyethylene wrap or tarpaulin.
  • The coop must have adequate ventilation at the top of the coop to reduce moisture and moderate the temperature in the winter.
  • On-site slaughter or euthanizing of hens is prohibited. If removal of a hen is required, the hen may be euthanized humanely by a veterinarian, moved to a new home or taken to a licensed abattoir.

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