Keeping chickens is being increasingly popular with city-dwelling Aucklanders who are looking to bring a bit of country living into their lives.
Steve Pearce, Auckland Council’s Manager Regulatory Compliance, says Aucklanders with urban properties of up to 2000 square metres can keep up to six chickens without a licence, however, there are other rules they need to keep in mind.
“While a number of chickens are allowed, roosters can’t be kept in urban areas,” Steve says.
“It’s important to remember that if you keep chickens on your property, you’re responsible for making sure they don’t cause a nuisance.
“We recommend having a chat to your neighbours before you get your chickens and addressing any concerns about noise or other potential issues. Similarly, if you have concerns about your neighbour’s chickens, it’s best if you can try to discuss it with the owners in the first instance, rather than getting the council involved,” he says.
The keeping of chickens is covered by the council’s Animal Management Bylaw, which relates to the ownership of animals and sets the rules for owners in Auckland.
When it comes to chicken ownership, the rules are different for urban and rural locations and depending on the size of the property.
In addition, under the bylaw, there are also certain requirements relating to chicken coops and shelter, as well as preventing infestations of vermin.
“If you’re keeping chickens, you need to make sure that the chickens are confined and can't escape the property, as wandering chickens are a common cause of frustration for people,” Steve says.
“You should provide facilities for roosting (such as perches), a surface for pecking and scratching, and a secluded nesting area.
“When placing your chicken coop, think about how it may affect your neighbours and put the coop in a place that is least likely to cause a nuisance. If you place it right up against a neighbouring property or near outdoor living areas, for example, there is the potential for nuisance, as hens can be noisy when they lay and there is a risk of chicken coops becoming smelly in the summer months. We recommend keeping coops at least a meter away from fences,” he says.
As the Animal Management Bylaw relates only to the ownership of animals, there are no rules related to wild chickens regulated by the council.
“We do occasionally get calls about wild chickens, however when there is no known owner, there are no rules for us to enforce and nobody for us to take enforcement action against,” Steve says.
“We would like to remind owners of roosters and chickens that they need to take responsibility for their birds and should rehome them or dispose of them appropriately if they are unable to adequately care for them."
“People who ignore this responsibility, and instead leave or dump unwanted chickens in other places, are the reason behind wild chickens and any inconvenience they cause Aucklanders,” he says.