Keeping Chickens: Laws, By-Laws and Regulations

When considering getting chickens most people wonder what the law says about keeping them at home, well, you’ll be pleased to find out that there are no laws or regulations in the UK which prevent you keeping small numbers of chickens, however, there are some regulations you must check first:

  • You can keep up to 50 chickens without registering with DEFRA.
  • However do check with your local council local whether there by-laws that prevent you from keeping livestock at your particular premises. At the same time check your property deeds to make sure they do not forbid you keeping livestock.
  • If your ome is owned by a housing association or local council check that there isn’t a covenants in place to stop tenants from keeping chickens at their property.

If your property is free from these regulations, you should to be able to keep chickens; though some of your neighbours may complain to the council if you keep a noisy cockerel.

Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Laying Hens

This code says hens should have five freedoms:

1.     Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.

2.     Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment, including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

3.     Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention and rapid diagnosis and treatment.

4.     Freedom to express natural behaviour by providing space, sufficient facilities and the company of the animals own kind.

5.     Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment to avoid mental suffering.

Make sure, therefore, that you have the necessary space, the time and inclination to loook after these animals over the long term and that  you are registered with a vet. You will need to check your hens regularly and take necessary action if needed.

The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act

If you are leaving animal food out in the open, it could attract other animals, including vermin. It’s important for your health and safety that you keep your animals and their outdoor space clean:  and if you do get pests deal with them swiftly. The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act requires you to notify your local council of any infestation of pests and to control pests on your property at all times. If you don’t, the local authority can enforce you to do it, or even do it for you and then bill you for the cost.