The Vancooper Hen House at the Lab

Dun­can Mar­tin from Back­yard Boun­ty joined us on July 24th to give an infor­mal work­shop on rais­ing hens in your back­yard. He makes these tidy coops out of cedar and wire mesh. They are made to the para­me­ters set out by City of Van­cou­ver bylaws.

The “Van­coop­er” was installed at the Lab on the Fri­day before the workshop.










Accord­ing to the City bylaws each hen must have 4 square feet of coop space and 10 square feet of “run.” Each house­hold can keep up to four hens (no roost­ers) for egg lay­ing pur­pos­es. Enclo­sures must be at least 3 feet from the prop­er­ty line and 10 feet from win­dows and doors.











Dun­can shared his years of chick­en rear­ing expe­ri­ence, answer­ing every­one’s ques­tions. I’ll attempt to recap here:


He rec­om­mend­ed using an organ­ic feed rather than an indus­tri­al grade feed. These can be pur­chased at local pet stores. He also keeps some “scratch” on hand. It’s a mix of seeds and corn ker­nels and can be used as a treat to help gath­er the hens.

Chick­ens know what is good for them to eat and what isn’t. They instinc­tive­ly know what is poi­so­nous. They will also eat table scraps such as cucum­ber and zucchini.


It’s impor­tant that chick­ens have pro­tec­tion from pests and preda­tors so a secure struc­ture made with a strong dense mesh is need­ed. When locat­ing the coop in your yard con­sid­er a shady area that is o.k for the chick­ens to scratch up.

Chick­ens will go up into the roost at night. They need a ledge or perch that they can sleep on — a round­ed 2 x4 will work.


Hens will lay with­out a roost­er, it’s just that the eggs are not fer­til­ized. They will lay from about 6 months to five years of age. As hens get old­er they pro­duce few­er but larg­er eggs.

Healthy chick­ens will lay about 5–6 eggs per week. This can be inter­rupt­ed by nat­ur­al paus­es such as brood­i­ness (a hor­mon­al moth­er­ing instinct that can set in for a few weeks), molt­ing (renew­ing feath­ers), or jsut being under the weather.


You can find hens for sale on Craigslist by farm­ers in the Fras­er Val­ley or you can take a day and attend the Fras­er Val­ley Auc­tion.  You can also join Vil­lage Van­cou­ver to see post­ings from local mem­bers on chick­ens for sale, feed runs, advice etc…









When going away on hol­i­days you will need to have some­one take care of your hens. Dun­can sug­gests get­ting your neigh­bour to pro­vide clean food and water in exchange for the eggs col­lect­ed while away.

Dun­can brought two pul­let chick­ens with him for the work­shop. They are around 6 months old which is the best time to pur­chase them. If you get chicks you won’t know if you have hens or roosters!










To learn more about rais­ing chick­ens in your back­yard or to pur­chase a Van­coop­er you can con­tact Dun­can Mar­tin at 604–329-3863 and vis­it his web­site www​.dai​lyeg​gs​.com

One Response to “The Vancooper Hen House at the Lab”

  1. What a fun day. Thanks for invit­ing me down to the site Hol­ly. It was great meet­ing you and Elisa, and your post is a nice con­cise resource for would-be chick­en owners.