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UK Rules And Regulation For Keeping Chickens

There are almost no laws that will stop the average chicken keeper from having a few birds in their back garden. That said there are a few things that are worth bearing in mind.

A chicken looking curiously at its owner
A chicken looking curiously at its owner

Protection of Animals Act and Animal Welfare Act

As with any animal, domestic or wild, cruelty to animals is illegal. With chickens you are required to provide adequate housing, food, water and care. Adequate housing is defined as housing that allows them to exhibit their normal behaviours (roosting, nesting, scratching and living in groups) and care can be understood as making sure your chickens health is well looked after.


If you do have over 50 birds then you need to register your flock with DEFRA - information on registering your poultry can be found on their website.


Under the 1950 Allotment Act you are allowed to keeping hens on your allotment, as long as they are only for the use of the tenants and not used for business or profit. However, if your chickens are regarded as a nuisance or a health hazard, or their welfare is affected they can be removed. No matter where your chickens are they are subject to welfare rights enforced by the Protection of Animals Act and the Animals Welfare Act. You can download the Welfare Of Animals On Allotments leaflet produced by the RSPCA on their site (note: when referring to hens, cockerels are excluded as they are more often covered by local law due to their noise).

By-Laws, Covenants and House Deeds

Occasionally there will be restrictions on a property or local area that bans the keeping of poultry. Check with your local council or property deeds if you suspect this may apply to you.

Rented Properties

If you are living in rented accommodation it is worth checking your tenancy agreement to see if you are allowed to keep chickens. If you are unsure then contact your landlord directly and see what they say.

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Geraldine, 28 March 2020

I would like to rescue 2 hens. I own my property. It’s a set of terraces surrounded by trees but in a residential area. Am I permitted to keep them?

Richard, 4 October 2019

Is there a limit to how many chickens you can keep in a domestic back garden and what are the rules regarding cockerels/noise etc.

Kevin, 21 September 2019

One of our neighbours has got a rooster and some hens/chickens in there back garden. Is there a special way of disposing of the waste from these animals and is it dangerous to cats?

Lesley, 14 August 2019

My neighbour has alot of chickens and rabbits which causes alot of flies in our home, how many are they allowed to keep in a residential garden.

Natalie, 29 July 2019

My house backs onto allotments and the allotment owner by my garden built a large construction for chickens that the council told him.he couldn't have as it was too large. He has now filled it with chickens which he does not attend to regularly and we have many rats now coming into own gardens. Can you please let me know what we can.do about this? I have young children and often eat in the garden during the summer. I fear this is a huge health risk.

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