Backyard Chook Keeping
As well as being wonderful pets, keeping chickens in your backyard is a great way to:
- Help manage pests in an organic garden
- Produce healthy, nutritious food at your backdoor
- Recycle your food scraps
- Support ethical food production by having happy, healthy chooks
- Help maintain the genetic diversity of chooks. Traditional breeds can be chosen for characteristics of egg laying, meat, friendliness or even digging up the garden.
- Reconnect people and children to the source of their foods (yes, eggs come from chickens!)
Guidelines for backyard chook keeping are set out by the NSW Government in the Local Government Act, for more information on requirements for specific council areas visit Local Government Regulations 2005. These standards are enforceable with an order from Council. You do not need permission from Council for a fowl or poultry house if you follow the requirements set out in the NSW State Planning Policy State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes 2008).
Regulations about poultry houses are set out in the Local Government General Regulation 2005 Schedule 2, and include:
- A poultry house must be at a least 4.5 metres from a dwelling, public hall, school or premises used for the manufacture, preparation, sale or storage of food.
- 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.
In Shellharbour Council area, the coop must be less than 15 square metres and no more than 900mm from fence boundary. Information on Wollongong Council guidelines and Kiama Council guidelines can be found in the following fact sheets:
- Wollongong City Council Guidelines for Keeping Chickens [PDF 57kb]
- Kiama Councils Keeping Chooks fact sheet [PDF 111kb]
- Shellharbour City Council Fowl and Poultry Houses Regulations [PDF 12kb]
There are many different kinds of chickens, and the right chook for you depends on how much space you have for them, and what characteristics you are looking for (whether that be a good egg layer, or an easy to handle chook that’s good with kids).
Like all animals, chickens need proper care, so be sure to do some research into appropriate housing, feeding and care before bringing some chooks home. Some helpful resources are:
Books (remember to also check your local library!)
- Backyard Poultry Naturally by Alanna Moore
- Jackie French’s Chook Book
- Chook Wisdom by Earth Garden
- www.daptopoultryclub.com (local poultry club, monthly meetings)
- www.rbta.org (Rare Breeds Trust of Australia)
- www.rentachook.com.au – Dave Ingham, based in Ryde, Sydney, can deliver flat packed coops to the Illawarra, as well as organic chook feed.
Rare Chicken Rescue – www.rarechooks.com.au (Blue Hills Poultry Stud)