Backyard chickens can provide lots of eggs but regulations must be followed.

What you need to know about keeping chickens

Fall fair president outlines some pointers for first timers

So, you want to farm.

The first order of business, if you want to keep animals, is to check your local zoning bylaws. In Sooke Zoning Bylaw, 3.5 states that the keeping of livestock and male poultry ( roosters) is prohibited on lots less than 2,000 sq. meters in area. The keeping of female poultry ( hens) is prohibited on lots less than 600 m. squared.

The keeping of up to six female (hens) in enclosed runs is permitted on lots less than 2000 meters squared but more than 600 meters squared. Runs shall provide at least .8 m squared  of space per bird and coops of at least .2 m. squared of space for bird.

A building or structure used for the keeping of animals must not be located in the front yard and must be located at least six meters from any lot line.

The second order of business is to ensure your building is secure. If you are raising chickens, the building must be sound with no holes for either mink or rats to enter. Chickens need to be locked up secure each evening or racoons will get your chickens. If you are in an open area, you may want to build a small, wired run for your chickens, to avoid hawks and eagles and ravens.

When you are sure you have followed the bylaws, contacted your neighbours to make sure they too are comfortable with your activity and ask for their kitchen and garden waste for your chickens in exchange for the odd dozen eggs or just to help with their food waste or offer some of the composted chicken manure.

Be sure to feed only enough kitchen waste for the chickens to eat up during the day, so as to deter vermin. Keep food locked up in a tight container, bear, raccoon and vermin proof.

Now you are ready to find some local lay birds. Check out the local farm guide or look on any of the kijiji sites or UsedVictoria.com sites. More information to come and see you at the fall fair competition for your eggs or your hens.

Ellen Lewers

Sooke Fall Fair President

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