There has been a huge resurgence in the numbers of people choosing to keep hens in urban areas, say Fionna and Gordon Appleton, of Appletons Animal Housing and Poultry Supplies.

The two groups most interested in keeping chooks are young families and retirees. Young families want to show children where food comes from, and how to care for animals. Retirees remember raising chooks when they were young, and want to take this up again. Keeping of rare heritage breeds is also an interest for many people.

The keeping of poultry in urban areas is usually managed by councils through bylaws. Most councils set a limit of 12 hens and prohibit roosters in the urban area.

The approaches taken by councils around the country range from restrictive to silent:

  • The most restrictive approaches require poultry houses to be 10 metres from any dwelling and from two to five metres away from property boundaries.
  • The mid-range approaches require poultry houses to be two to three metres from the property boundary, with no restrictions related to proximity to buildings.
  • The least restrictive approach is to have no location requirements, but to require that poultry not cause a nuisance to neighbours (for example through noise, smell, dust or flies).