Poultry can include ducks, geese and pigeons, but in Invercargill, most people keep hens  and the occasional rooster.

 It’s OK to keep chickens in your residential backyard, but you need to make sure that they don’t create a nuisance for your neighbours.

Housing your hens

Your henhouse, which might include an attached outside run, must meet the requirements of the Building Act 2004.  If you plan to build a henhouse greater than 10m2, you will need a building consent, and if you have an automatic watering system, a plumbing consent may be required.  Contact the Council 03 211 1777 and ask to speak with a Building Inspector for advice about building your henhouse.

Your henhouse will work best when it:

  • Has both a rainproof roof and a concrete floor or one made of other permanent material. This discourages vermin, and is easier to keep clean.
  • Is made of building materials which are smooth, waterproof and easily cleaned. This makes sure there are fewer places for mites, which can seriously affect your birds.
  • Is built of light coloured material. Hens lay better in light surroundings rather than dark and dingy places.
  • Is clean, dry and in good repair. It is a good idea to treat it with an insecticide every six months or so. Clean the outside run every week.
  • Has good ventilation and sunlight to make sure that the layer of litter on the floor stays dry. To do this, make sure that your henhouse:

Faces north
Is open at the front with the front wall constructed of wire netting
Has a 7cm to 10cm gap at the eaves along the back
Isn’t shaded by vegetation.


Other helpful advice

  • Make sure that your henhouse is a reasonable distance from your house and also from your neighbours. We advise a minimum of 9 metres from dwellings.
  • You should allow a minimum of 1.5m2 of space for each hen, up to 12 birds. If you plan to have more than 12, allow a minimum of 1.2m2 per bird.
  • Your henhouse should be fully enclosed to keep your chickens safely inside the henhouse and run.
  • If your henhouse is big enough, and has enough sunlight, you don’t need to have an open run.
  • Build up a litter of wood shavings, sawdust, straw etc on the floor of the henhouse well before winter sets in, so that it isn’t damp.
  • Hens need perches – best placed about 0.5m above the floor of your henhouse and suspended by wires or on iron supports (750mm x 50mm on edge is the best size, and smooth off the edges).


Learn more

Refer to the Keeping of Animals, Poultry and Bees Bylaw on our Bylaws page.