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. We live in a very rural area although in the middle of a fairly large village. A neighbour (100 yards away) has begun to keep hens. They appear to have three, at least that is the number which have begun to come into our garden. We do not want hens scratching the lawn and grubbing up the borders. We are going to talk to them but is there anything we can do if it persists?

    • Cats have roaming rights, chickens do not…. they should be kept confined within his boundary.

      I would ask him – he probably thinks it’s nice having them ‘free range’ but they are classed as livestock, not pets and he has a requirement to keep them adequately fenced in.

  2. I am interested in keeping roosters but after reading comments on this site, am very very worried about noise laws and neighbours complaining as I don’t want to end up in a situation where my poor pets are taken away from me.

    • Unless you are planning to breed and your neighbours are a reasonable distance away, I would not. They are noisy and it’s a sure way to upset neighbours if they aren’t too pleased with the disturbance.

    • I don’t think it’s actually written in law – but it is a commonly held view since they are excluded from other laws which put duties on the owners of animals and livestock. The law in this respect recognises that cats are difficult to keep within boundaries and do not cause injury damage to other people or their property.

  3. My neighbour has 12 chickens and one Cockerel which starts crowing at 3.40 in the morning, waking the whole house. My daughter has to be up at 5.30 to work a 12 hour shift as she is a nurse. I do not find this acceptable. The flies are horrendous when sitting in my back garden and now I have found mouse droppings in my own property. I don’t want to fall out with anybody but do not no what to do.

    • This is certainly not a good situation for you.

      Your neighbour shouldn’t really be keeping a cockerel if he is disturbing people. The first thing to do is to talk to your neighbour about the problems – but in the right way. What you don’t want is for them to become defensive and you get nowhere. I would be polite but firm and keep calm the whole time you speak to them. Explain how the cockerel is disturbing your sleep and how your daughter is being woken and that this is unacceptable and was there anything they could do.

      Ultimately they shouldn’t be disturbing you – but how they remedy this should be up to them to decide. Getting rid of the cock bird is the easiest solution but they may be dedicated enough to build him an insulated ‘cock box / house’ where light is excluded as much as possible and it is insulated for sound and he can be placed in there every night.

      With the vermin, again they have a duty to control vermin on their property but I would start with the biggest problem first if it were me. The flies shouldn’t be a problem if they keep their chicken house and runs clean.

  4. Our neighbours moved in a year ago with 14 chickens, the run 12ft by 7ft, the coop is an old garden shed, they were kept over the other side of their garden. The garden being approx. 60 foot long, the chickens took up best part of it. In warm weather the smell is disgusting and the flies you can hear buzzing louder than bees! maggots appear in heavy rainfall floating in puddles. A few weeks ago a fox killed six of these chickens, he replaced them and now has 15. He has now moved the chickens, coop and run over to our side of his garden (neighbours the other side complained) Our dividing fence forms part of the chicken run, I suspect he is selling the eggs. We asked him to move the run to the another part of his garden as the flies and smell in the recent warm weather were dreadful. He responded in a very arrogant way, he lives in a housing association property, I complained to the housing assoc. and they said they would take a look, the officer admitted he knew nothing about chickens. He informed them of the date of the visit, on the day they spent two hours cleaning up the run and coop, so there wasn’t any smell, plus it was a cooler day. They showed this officer an old double glazed toilet window that they had in their shed, and said it was a solar panel chicken coop door that they had bought for £150, that they would fit so that the coop door did not open and face onto our fence. This housing assoc.officer believed all of this, and phoned me and said that he could not do anything more….a pity that he did not hear them laughing their heads off after he had left!! The only option we are left with now is to seek legal advice, I worry that we would have a problem selling our house, with this awful situation.

    • I would check again with the housing association if they are allowed to keep livestock in the garden. Chickens are classed as livestock rather than pets and they are normally not allowed in the housing association deeds. Every area is different though…

      Another thing, as with all cases of complaint, you should keep a diary of events and photos or video where possible. The flies, the maggots etc. when complaining, you should produce a copy of this.

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