Backyard chickens are easy, economical way to get fresh eggs and save money. They are fairly inexpensive to maintain and you are guaranteed to have eggs that are chemical and hormone free.
Chickens are actually quite friendly animals and provide a great way to teach children about responsibility and how to care for living things. They provide experience in small animal farming and egg hatching.
Feed is inexpensive, and other natural foods can be fed to them as well such as food waste that cannot be composted, eg. remains of dishes that incorporate meat, pasta, rice and bread.
Hens need to have a good, warm, and safe environment in which to lay their eggs. If their environment is conducive to production, they can lay a great deal of eggs every week.
Keeping chooks in your backyard is legal in NSW, but there are still some regulations to keep in mind...
How many chickens can I keep in my backyard?
Under State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008, part 2, subdivision 21 - there is a limit of no more than 10 chickens.
The chickens also have to be maintained in accordance with the guidelines of that policy.
The chicken coop must be:
- limited to a floor area of 15m2
- a maximum height of 3m above ground level (existing)
- located in the rear yard
- limited to one per property
- a distance from the boundary of 3m
- located at least 4.5m from any dwelling, public hall, school or premises used for the manufacture, preparation, sale or storage of food
- made of materials that blend with the environment and be non-reflective
- adequately drained
- paved with concrete, mineral asphalt, or situated on clean sand underneath the roosts or perches
- occupied by no more than 10 fowls or poultry.
What else should I be aware regarding my property when considering construction or installation of a chicken coop?
A fowl or poultry house can be constructed or installed on land in a residential zone, but not if the property is:
- a heritage item or a draft heritage item, or
- land in a foreshore area.
The poultry yard must:
- be enclosed to prevent poultry from escaping
- at all times be kept clean and free from offensive odours.
- consideration should be given to the impact on adjoining properties
- water from the pen must not be allowed to enter a neighbouring property
- Council does not permit the keeping of roosters in residential areas.
Further rules and regulations
The Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 - Schedule 2, Part 5, Division 2, also states:
19. Poultry not to be nuisance or health risk
(1) Poultry must not be kept under such conditions as to create a nuisance or to be dangerous or injurious to health.
(2) Poultry yards must at all times be kept clean and free from offensive odours
20. Poultry not to be kept near certain premises
(1) Fowls (that is, birds of the species Gallus gallus) or guinea fowls must not be kept within 4.5 metres (or such greater distance as the council may determine in a particular case) of a dwelling, public hall, school or premises used for the manufacture, preparation, sale or storage of food.
(2) Poultry (other than fowls referred to in subclause (1)) must not be kept within 30 metres of any building referred to in subclause (1).
(3) The floors of poultry houses must be paved with concrete or mineral asphalt underneath the roosts or perches. However, this subclause does not apply to poultry houses:
(a) that are not within 15.2 metres of a dwelling, public hall or school, or
(b) that are situated on clean sand.
(4) Poultry yards must be so enclosed as to prevent the escape of poultry.
(5) The standards in this clause apply to a person only if the council has served an order under section 124 of the Act to that effect on the person.
Please check with Council if you are not sure if your property is affected by the above.
North Sydney Council runs periodic workshops on keeping chickens at the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability.
To find out what upcoming workshops are scheduled, go to our Green Events page.