An HDB resident is crying fowl, over his right (or lack thereof) to raise chickens in his five-room flat. Is it about a healthy living space, or just more bird-brained bureaucracy?

An egg-celent pet choice

While it’s nowhere as common as it used to be, there are people around Singapore still rearing chickens. And yes, many of them live in HDB flats.

One such resident, Mr. Eric Woo, rears five chickens in his five-room HDB flat.  These are reared in two cages, which he keeps on his balcony. The cages only take up less than 1.5 square metres of his balcony. Instead of letting them be cooped up in their cages 24/7, Mr Woo lets them out occasionally (cue free bird solo).

On top of chickens, he also has a 10-egg incubator. He would sometimes put hatchlings up for adoption, on Facebook group Fowl Mouthed Family (FMF). This is a group of chicken-rearing enthusiasts; and given the limited space in urban Singapore, we imagine such a hobby would need great effort to take flight.

flock of black and white chickens
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This is either a metaphor for multi-cultural Singapore, or the direct opposite.

But rearing chickens is not allowed in HDB flats

According to HDB, chickens are not allowed to be kept and reared in HDB flats. Residents are discouraged from rearing any animal that inconveniences neighbours when allowed to roam around indiscriminately (chickens, cats, teenagers with PMDs, etc.) There’s also a worry regarding certain diseases, such as avian flu.

Besides HDB, NPark states the rearing of poultry is illegal in HDB flats. Rearing chickens is exclusive to those who live in private residences (apparently, if you live in a condo, you really can own four calling birds, three French hens, two turtledoves, and a partridge – the pear tree is up for debate).

This ruling has upset those who currently rear chickens – while there’s been a sort of silent tolerance, they’re now worried HDB might crack down on their pet ownership.

Discrimination against those who stay in HDB flats?

As Mr. Woo points out, private condominiums and HDB flats do not have many differences – yet residents of the former can rear chickens. In addition, those who stay in landed property are allowed to rear chickens as well. You see where this is headed.

Mr Woo also mentioned that if the reason was to prevent factors like avian influenza, those who live in landed properties are the ones who are at greater risk. Since landed properties usually come with a garden or open space, more wild birds fly into their gardens. As such, they have higher chances of being in close contact with infected birds. As such, the contracting and spreading of avian influenza is higher.

Finding a solution won’t be chicken feet

This is an intricate balance between wanting to preserve a “kampung” facet of HDB living, with an increasingly urban landscape. Some people think chickens are charming; but some of the sort who will screech and run (you know the type, even kittens and puppies freak them out). HDB should consider taking a more case-by-case basis, to avoid ruffling any feathers.

What are your thoughts on HDB not allowing residents to rear chickens? Voice your thoughts in our comments section or on our Facebook community page.

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