About UHO

We are an informal volunteer group whose goal is amendment to City of Ottawa BY-LAW # 2003-77 that will allow city residents to keep backyard hens.

Originally known as CLUCK – Ottawa, we reformed with a number of new volunteers in June 2011, to become Urban Hens Ottawa (UHO).

Until just a few short years ago, backyard chickens were perfectly legal in Ottawa, as well as in many other North American municipalities. The place that prohibited that practice were actually relatively few.

But it seems the early 2000’s ushered in a trend toward bylaw standardization. And, as part of sweeping standardization, many North American towns and cities quietly chucked the chickens. Backyard hen-keeping, once very popular, had fallen out of favour many years ago so the new ban barely raised a ripple.

Ironically, however, the chickens were being squeezed out of residential backyards just as the homegrown, local and organic food movements were gaining hold and, within a few years of such bylaw changes, people in various town and cities slowly became aware of the new limitations.

Rumblings began. Groups were formed. City councils were petitioned. Many cities across North America, recognizing value (some would say wisdom) in allowing urban hens, have since repealed their ban on the birds.

Places that now allow small-scale raising of hens include:
Vancouver, Victoria, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, Niagara Falls, Brampton, Guelph, Trenton and Kingston.

And now it’s Ottawa’s turn – let’s return to our roots and once again allow residents the pleasure of raising hens and the benefit of backyard-fresh organic eggs!

UHO is working to prepare a solid case for amending Ottawa’s animal bylaw to allow hens once again. Once all is in place, we will present our case to the appropriate City of Ottawa
Standing Committee. It’s our hope that the facts we present will be enough to convince the standing committee to make a recommendation to City Council to allow hens.

Please help it happen by voicing your support for urban hens to your city councillor – the more requests they receive in advance of our presentation, the better!

The information presented on this site is designed to highlight the benefits and dispel negative myths about backyard hen-keeping. Hopefully you will find all you need here to understand the rationale for urban hen-keeping in our city but if you don’t see the answer to your questions or fell we have missed something, please CONTACT US to let us know!


59 thoughts on “About UHO

  1. That sounds really awsome, I’d love to have chickens to be hanest I really want chickens and if we can make this happen that would be awsome.

  2. Hi there! I’m part of a new online publication called City Unlimited Ottawa (www.cityunlimitedottawa@wordpress.com) and I was wondering if anyone here would be interested in talking to me either about the struggles of housing hens in the City or whether they have successfully been able to coop hens. I’m new to the subject but interested in pursing it for the publication.
    Let me know if there’s anyone I can speak with – I’d be happy to send a private email to set something up!
    Thanks so much for your time,

    Emily Murtha

  3. Hi Emily. I live in Russell and have chickens. My partner and I are adding an addition onto his house so I can move in. Unfortunately I am not allowed to bring my hens in to the city. We are very very disappointed about this. Are you interested in discussing chickens, or chickens in Ottawa?


  4. I just visited my friend in St-Albert, (35 minute east of Ottawa) and he has a small coop with 10 chickens. I was impress of his small set-up, I didn’t smell a thing around the coop and there was a light smell once we walked inside is coop. The chickens looked healthy and they were great to watch going about their business. We talked about the care, maintenance and benefits of keeping these birds, which definitely sound like a hobby I would like to start. I can see many advantages of having a few hens in my backyard, fresh egg,great fertilizer, food processor for some of our kitchen scraps and all of this for a few hours a week. Come on Ottawa, please let us have some chickens!
    Philippe Gravelle

  5. Hi Philippe. I just moved to Ottawa from Russell, Ontario, where I too had a handful of lovely hens. My hens were amazing. So sad to have had to give them away :(.
    Common Ottawa, give us back our hens.

  6. We’re looking to buy a an acreage and build a home on it. If this rule doesn’t change, we’ll have to move out of Ottawa.

  7. It is inconceivable that the City of Ottawa continues with this city wide by law in light of the massive size of the city and many rural villages. It would be simple to amend the by law to match other progressive cities. Sadly there are no councillors even those representing rural areas thatcan see the value of encouraging self sufficiency. Cats are allowed to run loose and kill thousand of song birds but people are not allowed to have a few chickens.
    Come on Ottawa let’s be a little more progressive. Ask someone who knows about chickens to draft some guide lines to amend the by law.

  8. Been living in Ottawa for almost a full year now. Still no word on any change in the bylaw restricting hens in Ottawa. 😦

  9. I would love to have two or three chickens as pets. If the law changes, I would get them right away. If anyone has a petition going, I would love to sign it. Maria

  10. With all the chemicals and GMO’s out there, buying food is a gamble. Why can citizens not be able to produce their own sustainable food source. I resent the fact that i am unable to try to provide for myself, and MUST rely on others for food. Should there ever be any type of catastrophe, most people could not survive anymore. Having a few chickens in the backyard, ensure that fresh eggs (hormone free) are just a few steps away. Chickens provide brilliant fertilizer for veggie gardens, and destroy bad bugs. If people were allowed to have hens, with regulations in which must be followed.. what is the issue? .. If people can complain about the noise, i am sure they could complain about the smell should someone neglect their chickens. Don’t punish everyone, for the few irresponsible!! At least allow us to try before removing our choice. I should be allowed to sustain my own food source. It is my right.

  11. Please keep me informed of your progress. I live in Laurentian Valley Township, surrounded by farms and would like to have our bylaw changed also.

  12. You have my support. As far as I’m concerned everyone needs to start urban farming on some sort of scale in order to sustain human life in the future. Let’s take a step in the right direction, towards a more holillstic lifestyle!

  13. Hi, I’ve been following this blog for over a year now, Does anyone know if the status of having backyard hens has been improved? Has anyone approached their Councillor to have this tabled to be an election item for this fall? We live in Ward 17 Capital and are planning to do so.We would be more successful if we had coverage across all the wards.
    April 30, 2014

  14. A chicken in every pot and many chickens on every lot!
    All antibiotic and hormone free is the goal for all to attain so as to have a healthy life. I too support this great idea for this would be a constructive change.

  15. Was transferred to Ottawa last summer. Coming from Guelph I guess we took for granted our progressive municipal government and were dismayed at the backwards attitude in Ottawa, particular when the world is going in the opposite direction. Ottawa should be taking a leadership role in matters of sustainability and this is clearly one area where it is not…

    We loved our hens! They entertained us, they educated our children and they fed us?…

    Bring back urban agriculture…

  16. If I could, I would own my own hobby farm, far outside of the city, where I would grow my own fruits and vegetables and raise my own animals. I cannot afford that for many reasons, hence, I have to live in the city. This should not force me to give up a perfectly viable source of food, leading me to procure it from less desirable, conventional sources. I should be able to produce my own food, which is healthier, cheaper and the production of which brings many other benefits like physical activity, environmental sustainability and promotion of local practices.

  17. Keeping chicken in Ottawa use should be allowed. It’s a sustainable option, very educating for families and can be a fun adventure. The reasons for not to allowing chickens in Ottawa are not reasonable and with some public demand, I’m sure this bylaw can be changed. (Note that Ottawa also had a bylaw against clotheslines just a few years ago. Thankfully, it was changed with high public demand). Don’t give up! You definitely have my vote!

  18. I’m quite interested to get involved with the front lines of this effort as well as helping near Ottawa farms with pastured eggs get to more customers.
    I look forward to hearing from you,

    Thank you,


  19. I’ve been doing some brief research on getting some hens and was most certainly disappointed when I found out that I couldn’t have my own here in our city. I was looking forward to providing this experience for my young children (both 3 and 4). Lessons of sustainability, lessons of animal care and lessons of good work ethic. This would have been a wonderful vehicle for all of these lessons.

    Keep us posted on progress,


    • Jeff my friend it isn’t gonna be Jason or Martha for example whom got A plus in school dictate how I live, what I feed my children or show mother nature what is right from wrong. Go ahead get couple and educate your children, it is an endless benefit. Read my comment April 2nd and best of luck

  20. Hi,
    Look up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
    The Right To Food Security- Article 25
    There was a case recently taken to court in Calgary in which a person fought to raise chickens and based this fight on this declaration. The city of Calgary dropped the charges against the person and are doing a pilot project.

  21. Hi everyone it is so exiting to see the number of supporter to backyard chicken growing at such a scale, yet very disappointed that the desire is only a dream for many. This is my forth year that I have chickens in the city and I mean the city. I Do have a decent size yard so are my neighbours. When I decided that am gonna get chicken, did not see an obstacle in my path exept breaking the by-law ” human law” God is above all. I started with five , a month later went to get another five but end up with four. All this was taking place before Christmas soon after that spring arived and two of the hens want to hatch chick, had not a bit of hesitation to set them up, sure enough twenty one days later the result many chicks with their mamas. It was just getting more of joy and excitement to me, the wife, the neighbours and friends. I will be very truthful to you. The tension always there who is knocking on my door , and a specialy when I keep the roosters that hatched for four to five month and this is’nt one time only, yet always cared highly about the neighbours, feeding most of them eggs. I could go on and on and tell you how often and far I pushed the limit, it is not what am asking you to do just get yourself two chicken, enjoy the fresh and organic eggs,build your confidence in your rights and be ready to rise for the fight when time come.

      • no is not permitted in Ottawa yet, but if we keep pushing and more people have them then the picture gets larger and larger and more people get involved and before you know it becomes a style like everything else.

  22. I very much want to keep a few hens in my back yard. I grew up with them and really miss it. It is easy to keep 5 or so in a small coop without having bothersome smells. If the yard is fenced in and the chickens are healthy, this shouldn’t be a problem!

  23. hello Desiree white. every negative been said about back yard chicken exaggerated highly and most of it just a myth. I had access to used corrugated plastic signs of which I installed over the interior of the coop that kept the wood structure nice and dry so it does not rut or absorb the ammonia then release the smell in the air. when the smell and fume start building up and only bothering me, I cover the shit with saw dust, and it makes total change as day / night , did install roof turbine that spins with the least wind and keeps air circulation for coolness in the summer as well removing moisture. i have designated a run attached to the coop, chain linked with clear cover to keep it dry otherwise severe smell which I have experienced the first year. very rare I let them out despite a fenced yard and a lot of space just to keep the exposure and the noise minimal, since I set hens every year to hatch chicks, raised by their mama with a complete natural behavior to send out warning / sing every time lay an egg. we let them out to the run after 10:00 am when the laying of eggs is done,for the rest of the day are quite until a squirrel pass by hell breaks loose for a minute and then quite again. four and half year later we still care about the neighbor like the first day. when we are around we rush to them throw some food to calm them down, the odd times does not work so we force them to go in the coop until they settle down. I hope this is helpful to you, good luck and this is my E-MAIL janottawa@hotmail.com

    • Just heard back from my Councillor and this is what I found out.

      Animal Care and Control by-law is slated for review in Q1 2017 and comments could be sent during that process for it to be considered.

      • Hi Ender… who is your councillor? I’d like to confirm the review, if possible.

    • Sorry for the delay, replies must have been sent to my spam. I’ve followed up with my councillor and will post on here once I here back regarding the review on the by-law.


    • we need to get a lot more than petition going on. we need to bring sense and reality back into our society.
      there was question period on CFRA today, about backyard chicken, and there you hear all nonsense,exaggeration and myths and the host was not any smarter than the people who called to comment in a negative way.

  24. I live in Gloucester near Vanier and I have backyard hens. I’ve been raising my egg layers for years here and my neighbours have never complained. I don’t get why this is such a big deal and led to a ban. Its not hurting anyone and I can even give fresh eggs to my neighbours who tolerate my quiet birds.

    • hi Amelie
      the way I see it is more of a money game, control and greed than any other reason.I do have chickens and this been going on for years, in the gloucester as well, set my own hens to hatch,many birds,including roosters that they go early spring before everyone start opening windows and become nuisance to my neighbours. yes I do have a decent size yard so everyone around me, but am very concern about my neighbours and their living enjoyment.don’t let my flocks out early to the run so no one disturbed in their sleep.there is so many human laws and regulation around us one more to regulate chicken and inforce handling birds is not gonna hurt any instead I see it one of the most profitable to most of us.not sure if you heard the CFRA radio the other day many callers did not have any experience, just what they heard from Mr A + with a degree on the wall or imagining in their heads.

  25. I have two small kids that have been begging to have a chick pet. I just got them two new born chicks. I never thought there is a problem having it. Chickens are more quite than the dogs in my neighborhood.

  26. Hi there
    I really hope we can make a progress to change this bylaw to allow the backyard hen in Ottawa. I emailed to my Councillor last year and we still do not get any progress. Anybody can arrange a meeting for us to get a team to work on this project?

  27. Seriously? Backyard chickens are not allowed in Ottawa. Wow .. really?! My partner and I are both getting posted to Ottawa in the new year from Kingston and have 4 pretty awesome hens and a super cool rooster that makes up our family. There’s no way we can give these little guys away. We were planning on buying a country property, 35 or so mins outside the city. Any idea how far the ban extends? We haven’t even considered that this would be an issue. Come on Ottawa, set an example here!

  28. I really have no idea why chickens are banned while my neighbour’s dogs get to bark late into the night. If there is any concern about hygiene, smell, or noise, there should be rules on that instead of banning it completely, and applicable to EVERY kind of pets. Then businesses like Home Depot will certainly have something help people align their backyard to the regulation. I often see pigeons and seagulls cooing around my house, not to mention omnipresent canadian geese, just cannot understand why chickens are not allowed.

  29. Just had a visit from Bylaw the other day. One of my Neighbors has been calling and complaining about our chickens numerous times. We live in Carlsbad Springs and are zoned agricultural. We were told on two separate occasions by By-law officers that “we are well within our rights to have our chickens and our rooster” Well this nuisance neighbor has finally found a loophole to our agricultural zoning. Our lot is a little too small for us to have chickens apparently. We love our chickens and consider them pets and will be fighting this and going to court over it. This is a classic case of a city mouse moving to the country and not wanting what comes along with the country. She even has a ladder up against our fence that she stands on to spy on us. We were forced to sell out 21 acre farm house years back when our son was diagnosed with autism to be closer to the city to get services for him. We moved to this house because it was still rural and country like and was also zoned agricultural. We have had our chickens for many years and the other neighbors don’t mind them at all. We have two children that adore the hens and benefit from their fresh eggs. Our son who has autism and is non verbal sits with the rooster on his lap and even swings with him. It is heartbreaking that we were told okay by bylaw and now are being forced to get rid of them, All this comes after we built a brand new coop this summer at a $2000.00 expense. We will fight this but are also looking for a new home as we know that this neighbor will not stop even if we win in court, that is just the type of person she is. So I will start looking for homes for my feathered friends.

    • apparently not.
      you need to be zoned agriculture and have a minimum of just under 2 acres.
      we are going to court over this as this rule that was not know by the By-law officers until a neighbor searched and found this and MADE the by-law visit and tell us we were no longer allowed after we were told twice that we were allowed.

  30. I have a neighbour in rural Kanata living in an “estate lot” subdivision where the minimum lot size is two acres. Their backyard fence borders on a strip of farmland that separates two such subdivisions. Beef cattle roam on the pasture portions,and the remainder is usually planted with cereal grains or hay and there are a couple of chicken coops with chickens behind the property zoned “Rural Residential” at the road frontage, The other three sides of the subdivision is are also actively farmed in the same fashion. The neighbour , whose family (husband’s side) had a farming background in their home country saw their property as being as big or bigger than many family farms “back home” and grew a massive and very productive vegetable garden every year for the two years that they’ve lived in the home that they built and inspired by her success, wanted to try her hand at raising chickens. They called the City and were told that they could go ahead. They spent a good portion of the summer digging post holes and mixing concrete to set the posts to install about a 1000 (?) feet of chain link fencing + aluminum “wrought iron” -looking fence to enclose the back yard and then dug more holes to cast concrete piers upon which they built a chicken coop to house the chickens which they had raised from chicks that Spring. Just as he was putting the finishing touches on the roof and she was beginning to get her first eggs from the hens, they received a visit from a By-law enforcement officer while they were both at work. They were given notice that they had to get rid of their chickens within 30 days. A phone call to City Hall yielded the explanation that the person at City Hall that they had spoken to earlier, was mistaken and had given them bad information — they had to get rid of the chickens. She was heart-broken. She clearly loved her chickens. Both of them were understandably dis-spirited.– all that work for nought. I on the other hand, was furious. I suggested to them that they simply lift their chicken coop and move it 20 feet to the other side of their backyard fence where it would comply with zoning & by-law and there wouldn’t be a damned thing that the complainant neighbour could do about it. They didn’t want to “raise a stink” (my words) because they were relative newcomers to this country and didn’t want to get into trouble. What a welcome to Canada. Eh ?

  31. Was any traction made from the by law review in Q1 of 2017? Moving to Ottawa this summer from Nova Scotia. Just gave away my 7 hens and 1 roo tonight? Watched my ladies who have been providing me with my morning eggs for the last few years drive away in a trailer… would be nice to get a few new ladies in Ottawa.

  32. Hi there, we’re preparing for a move to the Russell/Embrun area this summer from Kingston Ontario. We currently have 2 hens and have been attempting to identify if they would be “allowed” to move with us. Any idea if backyard hens are permitted in these areas?

    • just do it and unless your neighbour complains and even if they do ..you will have time.also the by-laws are changing.
      we had bylaw come here 15 months ago and still have them. 20+

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