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Chickens in the City? Melbourne Says Yes (With Some Rules)

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New to chickens and thinking about adding some feathered friends to your backyard? Fantastic! Fresh eggs, adorable antics and the satisfaction of raising your own food makers are just some of the amazing benefits of keeping backyard chickens. 

Before you rush out to buy baby chicks or adult hens, it's important to understand your legal responsibilities as a potential chicken owner to avoid any trouble with the council or your neighbours. 

Permits and Roosters – What You Need to Know

The good news is that in most of Melbourne’s suburbs, you won't need a permit to keep a small flock of backyard hens. However, every council has its own rules about the number of hens you're allowed so it's vital to check your council’s regulations to be sure.

As for the guys, well, roosters are usually a no-no within most suburbs. Their early morning crowing can cause some serious neighbourly disputes! Some councils make exceptions but you'll almost certainly need a permit.

If you live outside Melbourne's urban zones on larger properties, many of these restrictions don't apply. But remember, respecting your neighbours and taking good care of your chickens is a responsibility shared by everyone both urban and rural!

The Basics: Melbourne Council Requirements

Even without a formal permit, there are common rules about keeping chickens that apply across Melbourne. These are designed to keep your chooks healthy and your neighbours happy:

  • Space Matters: Provide at least 1.5 meters between your chicken coop or run and your property boundary
  • Cleanliness is Key: Keep your hen housing clean, dry and free of rodents
  • No Nuisances: Unfortunately, being a chicken owner means your chooks can't create a disturbance for your neighbours through noise or strong smells
  • Feed Protection: Store chicken feed in rodent-proof containers
  • Manure Management: Dispose of chicken manure responsibly so it doesn't become smelly or attract flies

    How Much Space Do Chickens Really Need?

    Don't stress if you have a smaller yard! Chickens are surprisingly adaptable. Here are the minimum space requirements:

    • Run: Minimum of 1 square metre per chicken. The more space the better for their mental and physical health.
    • Coop Interior: Allow at least a quarter of a square metre per chicken inside the chicken coop
    • Nest Boxes: One A3-sized nest box is usually enough for about 7 hens. You don't need one for every hen as they are happy to share!

      Know Your Council: Finding the Right Information

      To find the specific poultry regulations for your council, here's what you can do:

      1. Visit our Handy List of Links: We’ve created a list of links directly to the relevant pages for most councils in Melbourne - just scroll down!
      2. Go to your Council's website: A simple search for "[council name]" will take you there
      3. Search their website: Use their search bar with terms like "poultry", "chickens", or "pets".
      4. Contact your Council: If you're having trouble, contact your council directly and they'll point you in the right direction

        A Few More Tips!

        • Choose the right breeds: Some hens are quieter and better suited to suburban settings. Do some research before choosing your chickens.
        • Neighbours are Key: Chat with your neighbours before bringing home chickens. Open communication can head off potential complaints and don’t forget to mention “fresh eggs”.
        • Be Prepared for Predators: Sadly, foxes are a threat to chickens even in urban areas. Secure your coop and run well to make certain that it is predator-proof.
        • Enjoy the Journey! Keeping chickens is very rewarding if armed with the right information and advice.

          Let me know if you have other questions about raising backyard chickens in Melbourne! Finally, here’s a list of councils in Melbourne with links directly to their poultry or pet regulations page:

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