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Keeping Chickens

A guide to keeping a few hens at home

Keeping a few hens in the back garden to provide year round eggs is becoming more and more popular. There are no laws preventing you keeping hens, providing they are looked after properly and their welfare is taken seriously. However, it is advisable to check your property deeds or consult your landlord to make sure there are no covenants preventing the keeping of 'livestock'.

It is important to ensure that a high standard of cleanliness is maintained as the food, water and chicken coops can attract rats and mice.  Poorly maintained chicken coops can not only attract vermin but can cause strong odours and flies, especially during the summer months, which may be a cause of complaint to the neighbours.

Cockerels are not required when keeping hens for the purpose of using their eggs at home. Cockerels can be very noisy and are often subject to noise complaints dealt with by the council. Consider carefully before deciding to keep a cockerel and how you will control noise from affecting your neighbours.

The RSPCA provide guidance on keeping chickens.

Do I need to register my 'flock'?

If you are considering keeping two or three hens to provide a year round supply of fresh eggs then there are no requirements to register with anyone.

You must register poultry flocks of 50 or more birds that you own or are responsible for. They don’t have to all be the same species. This applies even if your premises are only stocked for part of the year.

You should register your poultry within one month of their arrival at your premises.

If you have fewer than 50 birds you do not need to register. You are, however, encouraged to register voluntarily so that Defra can contact you quickly if there is an outbreak of disease.