Montreal

Urban chickens could be coming to a Montreal backyard near you

A new initiative wants to hook Montrealers up with a city-friendly coop and young hens, so that egg is always on the menu.

Poc Poc wants to provide city-friendly coops to be used year-round

Cocotte roosts in her Poc Poc coop, as part of the pilot project bringing urban chickens to Montreal. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Cocotte lets out a squawk, and out pops a fresh, warm egg.

The people behind Alvéole — the company that's been installing beehives for Montrealers for the past six years — have just launched their latest initiative: Poc Poc. 

They provide a city-friendly coop and advice, connect a farmer and an urban resident, and the chicken comes home to roost.

"We designed a chicken coop that's made for the city," said Alexandre McLean, the co-founder of Poc Poc.

"It's insulated; it's soundproof; it's easy to clean, and it's protected from predators." 

Getting a coop will set you back $1,200.

There's just one hiccup: chickens are not allowed in most Montreal boroughs.

Right now, citizens living in Rosemont–La-Petite-Patrie and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve are allowed chickens, although some conditions apply.

The City of Montreal is currently reviewing its animal control bylaw but remains mum on whether urban chickens will become legal.

Pilot project a success

Chickens Cocotte and Lilly are happily ensconced in their coop in Claudine Trudel's Rosemont backyard. 

Trudel took part in Poc Poc's pilot project, which had 50 coops set up in various backyards. Trudel says the whole street is involved in Cocotte and Lilly's upkeep.

"We have a green alley, and when Poc Poc began speaking about their initiative, we started to discuss it as neighbours," she said.

"We said, why not embark on this adventure, for the experience with the kids."

McLean says Poc Poc wants to use this initiative as an educational tool.

"That's what we are all about, education," he said.

"This project is going straight to where we want to be."

Alvéole has 100 hives set up in schools and hopes to include chicken coops in the mix. Some schools have already had workshops with the families taking part in the pilot project.

Cocotte, left, and Lilly nibble on food left outside their Poc Poc coop in a Rosemont backyard. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

SPCA concerned over project

Not everybody is thrilled with Poc Poc's project, though.

The Montreal SPCA says it has serious concerns over the welfare of the chickens.

"Having these animals in a city where people are just not going to have the resources to care for them, we can barely get people to care for their dogs and cats," said Alanna Devine, the SPCA's director of animal advocacy.

"These are animals that are going to end up surrendered or stray."

She points out that chickens can live up to 15 years and may only lay eggs half of that time.

But McLean says Poc Poc will provide all the information one needs in order to take care of a chicken.

"In the future, if you get children who are a bit more connected with food production and animals, I think we're going to see a lower abandonment rate on all animals," he said.

About the Author

Sarah Leavitt

Journalist

Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.

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