Keeping chickens in a garden

If you are thinking of keeping some chickens in your garden there are a few legal implications which you should bear in mind. This article looks at the main ones.

Are there any restrictions on you keeping chickens in your garden?

Some times title deeds and tenancy agreements contain restrictive covenants prohibiting the keeping of livestock, including chickens. You should, therefore, check whether your deeds or tenancy agreement contains any such restrictions. You should also check with your local authority that there are no other restrictions on you keeping chickens.

You should also be aware that the keeping of chickens, will in some circumstances amount to a nuisance, for example, if they are kept in close proximity to another dwelling house.

Do you have sufficient time to dedicate to looking after chickens?

Looking after chickens requires a certain amount of time and effort. You should also consider what would happen if you were to fall ill or go on holiday as it is not always as easy to find someone who is willing to look after chickens as it is for cats and dogs, for example.

The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 sets out the minimum standards under which farm animals (including chickens kept for domestic purposes) must be kept. For chickens kept in Wales the Welfare of Farmed Animals (Wales) Regulations 2007 will apply. The regulations contain requirements relating to stockmanship, health, feeding, breeding, accommodation and management and require that anyone looking after animals to which the regulations relate be familiar with and have access to appropriate welfare codes. Welfare codes relating to laying chickens and chickens kept for meat can be found on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) website.

If you are planning to keep laying hens then additional rules will apply relating to accommodation, food and drink, health and hygiene. These additional rules are contained in the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 and the Welfare of Farmed Animals (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2002.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 will also apply to the keeping of hens.

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For more information on:

  • Restrictions on feeding chickens
  • Selling your eggs
  • Registering your flock
  • Diseases
  • Disposing of dead chickens