Rules and Regulations

There are no national rules or regulations in the UK that stop you from keeping small numbers (less than 50) chickens however there are some regulations to check first.


  • DEFRA: You are allowed to keep up to 50 chickens on your land without registering with DEFRA, however after the avian influenza outbreaks, a poultry register was set up in 2005 and you are required to register if you keep more than 50 poultry on the premises – so you need to take into consideration any other poultry you have. There is more information on my page: DEFRA: The Poultry Register
  • By-Laws: There are occasionally by-laws for certain properties that prevent people from keeping livestock. Check with your local council that this doesn’t apply to you.
  • Covenants: There are sometimes covenants put in place by housing authorities and councils to stop tenants from keeping chickens at their property. This seems to be a local decision as there are no national restrictions.
  • House Deeds: Again, the deeds of some properties may state that you are not allowed to keep chickens (again, often stated as keeping livestock). If your property is free of restrictions, you should be able to keep chickens without a problem, however do keep in mind that local residents may complain to the council about noise levels if you keep a cockerel.

There are a number of Laws, regulations and requirements that can affect you (in the UK) and I have created a number of sub pages to cover these briefly:


  1. My neighbours have chickens which roam into my garden (which is fenced). I have a dog and today the chicken has come into the garden and the dog has gone for the chicken. I have told my neighbour who says it is our responsibility to fence our garden if we don’t want the chickens coming in. Is this correct and where do I stand if my dog hurts the chicken on my land?

    • Hi Mandy,

      Oh, dear. I’m not a legal person, but I -think- it is the other way around.
      Only cats have a right to roam from what I have read (try keeping them in!)
      Chickens are classed as livestock and it would be the owner’s responsibility to keep them secured on their land.

      Good luck.

  2. I live on a large property and keep chickens .
    Two things you can guarantee that come with chickens , Red mite’s and Rats.
    If you do decide to keep choocks you should respect your neighbour’s by not building your coop to close to your dividing fence’s have a 3 to 4ft gap all the way around. Rodents will be less likely to dig under your fence
    lay chicken wire down and cover with slabs .
    (Rats love chicken poo so clean regularly.)
    Built up areas have lots of rats just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean there not there and they will make a b line for the chicken coop and if they can’t get in they will give up

  3. What are the rulings on noisy cockerels as we have one driving us mad screeching at the crack of dawn and through the day. Its loud enough the wake us with the window shut and dread to think what it will be like in summer time with the window open.

    • Hi Paul,
      That’s a nuisance to you I’m sure and I can understand you wanting to find out about the rules for noisy cockerels.
      I am not sure there is anything specific, I would check with Citizen’s advice (assuming you live in the UK), I think it would come under a neighbour dispute as a statutory nuisance.

      This page has further information:

      You might want to start making a case. Approach the neighbour first to explain the disturbance, note the date and time of the visit and then if that doesn’t resolve the issue, send them a polite letter explaining it and asking if they could prevent the disturbance.

      Give them a couple more weeks, then you would probably have a strong case to lodge a formal complaint. You need to have been reasonable and done everything to give them a chance to resolve the issue before complaining and who knows, they might not even realise it’s a problem to you.

      Let me know how you get on?

  4. A few doors down from me has 4 chickens, and they are in a pen of about a metre and a half long and about a half-metre wide; they’ve had them about a year, and they never let them out, is that allowed?

    • Unfortunately, (and sadly) it is.
      Chickens are classified as livestock, so the same rules that allow hens to be kept in small battery cages (albeit they are bigger ‘enriched cages’ these days) apply to the backyard chicken keeper.
      The only thing to check is that they meet the five freedoms.

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