Backyard hen lottery starts in Calgary this month

The City of Calgary's new urban hen licensing program begins on March 21.

Number of licenses for hens will be capped at 100

Calgary will allow people to apply to keep backyard hens. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

The City of Calgary's new urban hen licensing program begins on March 21.

Calgarians can apply for an urban livestock licence to keep backyard hens under the updated Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO) Bylaw, which recognizes the animals as licenced pets.

"We heard from Calgarians that modern pet ownership means more than just caring for cats and dogs," said Calgary Community Standards official Jennifer Lawlor in a release Wednesday. 

"The urban hen program introduces urban livestock licensing and regulation to Calgarians, ensuring proper housing, care conditions and opportunities to address any community-based concerns are incorporated."

To get a license, applicants will have to:

  • Complete a hen keeping and care training course.
  • Own the property hens will be kept on, or have written expressed consent from the property owner.
  • Obtain a free Premise Identification (PID) number from the Government of Alberta.
  • Confirm the number of hen licences requested (the RPO Bylaw requires ownership of between two to four, as hens are group animals).

Applicants will also need to acquire a pre-application inquiry file number from City of Calgary Planning and Development, depending on their site plan for where hens will be kept.

Roosters are not permitted and young hens (pullets) aren't allowed to be younger than 16 weeks old.

Details of the program and a coop checklist are available on the city's website.

The program will accept 100 applicants in its first year, as directed by Calgary City Council in June 2021 when the updated RPO Bylaw was passed. 

If the demand exceeds that number, the first 100 applications selected through a random lottery will be processed.

The lottery will open on Monday, March 21 at 11 a.m. and will remain open until Monday, April 18 at 11:59 p.m.