There has been an increased interest in self-sufficient lifestyles and small-scale agriculture in recent years, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted global supply chains and sometimes led to empty grocery store shelves. 

In addition to a garden, some urban dwellers have also contemplated adding backyard chickens to their personal food production resources. 

The City of Merritt permits backyard chickens in Parcels zoned R1, R1A, R2 and R3. However, only hens are permitted, roosters must not be kept within city limits. 

In addition, hens must be kept in a Backyard Hen Enclosure, of which only one structure will be permitted per property. The enclosure must be sited to the rear of the Principal Building, be setback a minimum of 1.2 metres from any parcel line, not visible from the street and be constructed in a way to prevent infiltration from predatory animals and rodents, as well as for sound attenuation.

Under Animal Control Bylaw No. 2241, 2018:

49. The keeping of hens must not cause a nuisance, in accordance with the Good Neighbour Bylaw.


50. A property owner or occupant may only keep Hens in accordance with the following provisions:

(a) The parcel must be appropriately Zoned to allow the keeping of Hens according to the City’s

Zoning Bylaw.


(b) a minimum of two and a maximum of six (6) Hens may be kept on any such property;


(c) a person must not keep Hens in, upon, or under any structure used for human habitation.


51. Every person keeping Hens, and the owner of a parcel on which Hens are kept, must ensure that:

(a) poultry, manure, and waste products are composted or disposed of to prevent odours;

(b) any diseased Hen is killed and the carcass destroyed;

(c) no slaughtering of Hens occurs on the property;

(d) eggs are used only for consumption and not for resale;

(e) all Hens must be provided with food, water, light, ventilation, veterinary care, and

opportunities for essential behaviours such as scratching, dust-bathing, and roosting; and

(f) any structure housing Hens and accompanying run must be fenced in such a manner to prevent

the entry of vermin or predators and to confine the Hens and kept free of vermin.

Hen Enclosures

52. All Hen enclosures must have:

(a) a run consisting of any combination of vegetated or bare earth,

(b) a minimum enclosed floor area of 0.4 square metres (4 square feet) per Hen;

(c) a wooden floor at least 0.3 metres above grade, or a concrete floor;

(d) at least one (1) nest box; and

(e) for each Hen, a minimum of 20cm of perching space.

Provided you can meet all of these requirements, which chickens are right for you? There are literally hundreds of chicken breeds. Below we have compiled a list of hens ideal for basic backyard chicken keeping based on desirable attributes. 

Top egg layer: If you are looking for a hen that will provide you with a consisten supply of eggs, ISA Browns top the list, laying as many as 350 eggs per year. 

Cold hardy: Rhode Island Reds were developed (not surprisingly) in Rhode Island, part of the USA’s New England region where temperatures can drop as low as -30°C. This means they can handle cold and snowy Canadian winters while still producing a respectable 250-300 eggs per year.

Heat resistant: As we all know from last summer’s heat dome, Merritt temperatures can soar as well as drop. Orpingtons are an all around chicken that can tolerate both cold and heat while providing your family with between 150-200 eggs per year. 

Colourful egg layer: If you’re looking for more than plain white or brown eggs, there are a variety of chickens that lay blue, green, and even pink eggs. These include Ameraucanas, Easter Eggers, Olive Eggers, and Salmon Faverolles.