The UK is tackling its largest-ever outbreak of bird flu (avian influenza). If you keep chickens, ducks, geese or any other birds you are now legally required to follow strict biosecurity measures.
There are no laws against keeping a few hens in your garden.
You should check your property deeds or with your landlord first, as there may be ‘covenants’ or rules against keeping livestock on the property.
Things to consider
You need to make sure the noise from your chickens does not disturb your neighbours and cause a nuisance.
Hens are generally not very noisy. Some breeds are noisier than others, and they tend to be loudest when laying.
You can help to avoid issues with noise by making sure the coop isn’t too close to your neighbour’s property.
Most noise complaints about chickens come from the keeping of cockerels.
Cockerels crow from first light, and this can disturb your neighbours early in the morning and throughout the day.
You do not need to keep a cockerel for your hens to lay eggs.
If you do decide to keep a cockerel and it becomes a nuisance to your neighbours, we may get involved and ask you to control the noise.
Cleanliness and pests
Chicken coops can smell, especially in summer. It’s important that you keep your chickens in a clean and hygienic environment.
Food and water left out or spilt can attract pests into your and your neighbours gardens.
Clean up excess or spilt food regularly. Check for any signs of pests and act if necessary. You can contact our pest control service for more information.
Animal cruelty is against the law. You must make sure your chickens are looked after and their needs are met.
The RSPCA have information on how to keep chickens as pets.
Coops and runs
Depending on the size, coops and runs may require planning permission.
If you want to sell your eggs commercially, you’ll need to look at our food business pages.
Registering a flock
If you keep 2 or 3 hens as pets or for eggs, there is no need to register with anyone.
If you have 50 or more birds, you must register your flock with DEFRA. You must register even if you have 50 or more birds for only part of the year.
DEFRA do suggest that you register even if you have less than 50 birds, as they can inform you of any potential diseases or issues affecting chickens in the UK.