Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Aucklanders told to count their chickens under proposed rule

Got chickens in your backyard? Better count 'em. Photo / Michael Craig
Got chickens in your backyard? Better count 'em. Photo / Michael Craig

Keeping more than six chickens on urban properties will require a licence from Auckland Council under a new proposal for a bylaw to prevent stock from becoming a nuisance to neighbours.

A licence would also be needed to keep a rooster, ducks and geese, or a goat or a sheep to keep down the grass on a big urban section.

The proposal for uniform controls and standards for keeping stock goes to the council's governing body to decide next week whether to seek public comment.

A staff report to the council regulatory and bylaws committee yesterday says the council gets 420 complaints a year about poultry. It suggests the need for compulsory uniform minimum standards to manage the type and number of chickens kept in urban areas.

The aim was to prevent nuisance from smell and noise and risks of transferring disease to people.

Six of the former councils in Auckland regulate the type and number of stock kept in town. The former Waitakere City Council does not.

However, the proposed bylaw goes further: it has a new licensing requirement in order to keep six to 12 chickens in Franklin, Manukau, Papakura and Rodney.

The report noted a proposal that keeping more than a dozen chickens in an urban setting could require a resource consent under the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

Animals that come under the definition of stock also include sheep, cattle, pigs, and horses.

Committee member Glenn Wilcox commented that the bylaw might affect a tradition stemming from the country's agricultural heritage.

"We have always had a lamb or calf club - I did not realise we are not allowed to have a lamb."

The report said an alternative to a bylaw would be use of the Health Act to respond to complaints and urgent health problems.

SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge said a number of laws affected the keeping of stock but few people knew about them.

The society would support a bylaw system of licensing that allowed the council to educate people about a minimum standard and to assess the property as being fit for use in size, fencing and drainage. Often people on small lifestyle blocks had "not the faintest idea" of stock needs.

- NZ Herald

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