Urban Agriculture Business Information Bundle
Raising Livestock and Poultry
Livestock and poultry can be a source of meat, milk, eggs or fibre. When you add aquaculture and beekeeping into the mix, the list of products gets even longer.
However, not all municipalities allow you to raise livestock within city limits. Be sure to check your local regulations to see what species are allowed, in what numbers. Many municipalities also specify how close to the property line shelters can be placed. Even if livestock are permitted where you live, be a good neighbour by making sure they don't escape and by minimizing the noise and odours they create.
As well, keep in mind that livestock production is not as simple as growing fruits or vegetables. While the details vary according to the species, raising animals requires upfront investments in suitable shelter and fencing; the cost of buying the animals; daily chores such as feeding and watering; cleaning out manure, collecting eggs, etc.; veterinary bills; measures to deter predators; and the logistical issues of slaughtering.
Keeping animals clean, comfortable and properly fed and watered will reduce the risk of disease. Many animals will need regular health care, from vaccinations to deworming to hoof trimming. Note that vets with livestock experience may not be easy to track down in an urban setting, especially when it comes to more exotic livestock.
If you have questions about livestock management, contact the Agriculture Information Contact Centre.
If you are raising livestock, there are several animal health Acts you need to comply with:
As well as compromising the health of livestock and poultry, some of these diseases can be passed to humans and/or other animals (for example, pets) and vice versa. Be sure to minimize the risks by following good biosecurity and health management practices. For more information, see:
By regularly reviewing your production and handling practices, you can reduce the incidence of livestock mortality. Nevertheless, death is inevitable, and you must equip yourself with the knowledge and proper planning to deal with it.
Ontario has two sets of regulations governing deadstock disposal to minimize potential food safety risks, environmental impacts and disease threats. The regulation under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 (Nutrient Management Act, 2002 - O. Reg. 106/09) addresses on-farm disposal, while the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 (Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 - O. Reg. 105/09) addresses disposal when the animal dies somewhere other than where it is raised, as well as licensing requirements for businesses that assist in the management and disposal of dead farm animals.
Use best management practices to reduce the biosecurity risks that deadstock poses to other livestock and to the environment. You'll find information about the approved on-farm disposal options, transportation of dead farm animals and business licensing requirements at OMAFRA's deadstock disposal page.
Feeding and Watering
You'll need to source the right feed and establish appropriate systems for storing and dispensing it. Keep in mind that feed can attract a variety of unwelcome animals, including rodents, raccoons and skunks.
All animals need access to clean, fresh water on a daily basis. In the winter, that may mean installing systems to prevent the water from freezing. Information on different types of watering systems is available from OMAFRA's Alternative Livestock Watering Systems factsheet.
In addition to municipal bylaws, there is federal and provincial legislation governing livestock in Ontario. For an overview, see OMAFRA's Acts and Regulations: Legislation Affecting the Ontario Livestock Industry . OMAFRA also has helpful information on the Animal Health Act, 2009.
Consult Ontario's Nutrient Management Act, 2002 for regulations governing manure management.
Even in urban areas, wildlife can pose a threat to your livestock. For details, see Dealing with Wildlife.
If you're raising animals for meat, you'll need to plan how they will be slaughtered when they reach the appropriate age. Even if your focus is egg, milk or fibre production, you may need to cull livestock.
For the regulations governing the slaughtering of animals, see OMAFRA's Your Responsibilities Under the Meat Regulation.
Keep in mind that not all slaughterhouses are set up to handle all kinds of livestock. See OMAFRA's list of provincially licensed slaughter plants, which is organized by animal class.
If you are transporting livestock to a slaughterhouse, consult Canadian Agri-Food Research Council's Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals: Transportation.
Space, Shelter & Fencing
For many city dwellers, the amount of land you have will determine what kind of livestock you can raise. While a small backyard may provide enough space for poultry and rabbits, for example, larger animals may need several hectares. Refer to Ontario's Minimum Distance Separation guidebook for more information.
The Normal Farm Practices Protection Board and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) established the Farm Practices Conflict Resolution Process to help resolve conflicts about farm practices that arise from nuisance complaints about odour, noise, dust, flies, light, smoke or vibration. The Process is also used for conflicts between farm practices and municipal by-laws.
Shelter is another consideration: most livestock will need protection against the elements and predators. The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension provides an overview of housing and space guidelines, while OMAFRA's Livestock pages provide recommendations for specific livestock.
Finally, many animals need appropriate fencing. For details, see OMAFRA's Farm Fencing Systems factsheet and the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension's factsheet on Pastures, Fencing and Watering on Small Acreages.
For more information:
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