Urban Hens TO Pilot

About the UrbanHensTO Pilot:

On March 2nd, 2018, the City of Toronto launched a 3-year pilot program, allowing residents in 4 wards across the city to keep backyard hens for the purposes of eggs and enjoyment! Read the press release here. Backyard hens can provide fresh, local food for Toronto residents.

See our full list of resources below. These will be continually updated.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • You must live in one of 4 eligible wards (see section below)
  • You must live in a residential property (houses or townhouses with a backyard)
  • You must register for the pilot: here! 

Eligible Wards:

Basic Requirements:

Find a full list of requirements on toronto.ca/urbanhensTO. Here are a few highlights:

  • A resident can have a maximum of 4 hens (no roosters allowed!). Suggested minimum is 2 as hens are social creatures.
  • Hens can be raised for enjoyment or for eggs. Personal consumption only. No eating the hens.


Workshops will be held in each of the 4 wards and facilitated by hen experts, Lorraine Johnson and Adam Dirks. Read their bios here. The workshops will cover the pilot requirements, basic care for hens, how to prevent and detect disease, best practices for feeding and care for hens, and coop designs.

  • Ward 13 (Parkdale-High Park):                                                                                                                                 Swansea Town Hall, 95 Lavinia Ave.                                                                                                                      Wednesday, March 7, 7 to 9 p.m.
  • Ward 21 (St. Paul’s):                                                                                                                                                      St. Matthew’s United Church, 729 St. Clair Ave. W.                                                                                               Saturday, March 17 from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Ward 5 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore):                                                                                                                                    Etobicoke Civic Centre, Council Chambers.                                                                                                                     Saturday, April 14, 10 a.m. to noon
  • Ward 32 (Beaches-East York):                                                                                                                                    Danforth Mennonite Church, 2174 Danforth Ave.                                                                                                             Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m. to noon
  • NEW WORKSHOP ADDED – Register here                                                                                                                                     Black Creek Community Farm (4929 Jane St.)                                                                                                             Sunday, June 3rd, noon to 2 p.m.


Lorraine Johnson and Adam Dirks have developed a Zine called “An Eggscellent Guide to Backyard Hens”, available to download by clicking here! It has all the following resources and much more. 



  • The Chicken Encyclopedia, by Gail Damerow
  • Reinventing the Chicken Coop, by Kevin McElroy and Matthew Wolpe
  • Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, by Gail Damerow
  • Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds, by Carol Ekarius
  • Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs, by Signe Langford (Douglas & McIntyre, 2015)
  • City Chicks: Keeping Micro-flocks of Laying Hens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-recyclers and Local Food Suppliers, by Patricia Foreman
  • Raising Chickens for Dummies, by Kimberly Willis with Rob Ludlow
  • Building Chicken Coops for Dummies, by Todd Brock, Dave Zook, and Rob Ludlow
  • The Chicken Health Handbook, by Gail Damerow



Chicken Coops

  • Omlet – Makers of the Eglu, a coop designed specifically for urban hens
  • Rent-the-Chicken
  • Farm supply stores or hardware stores such as TSC Stores
  • Build your own using plans readily available online

Sources of Hens and Feed

  • Feed and farm supply stores, such as Davis Feed and Farm Supply in Caledon or Ace Peel Hardware and Supply in Caledon.
  • If you are specifically interested in heritage breeds, use Rare Breeds Canada’s resource list of poultry breeders
  • Another great way to source hens is to talk with farmers at your local farmers’ market (note, though, that the backyard hen pilot project in Toronto does not allow farmers to bring hens to a Toronto farmers’ market).
  • To have a trial run with backyard hens (or to have a coop and chickens and feed delivered to you in the spring and then taken away again in the fall), you can rent hens and a coop from Rent-the-Chicken
  • If you are interested in providing a home to a rescued hen, contact an animal sanctuary such as Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary, near Stratford


Hens in the News: