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. Thanks for your advice, I have checked with the housing association, they agree that this is an egg business, definately not pets, but they say that they are allowed to keep chickens. A housing officer visited and was given a ‘cock and bull’ story about a
    solar powered chicken hatch, we have yet to see that. I am taking notes and in a week or so will go to the housing association offices, and ask to speak to someone… yet again.

  2. The solar powered chicken hatch was fitted and the chicken shed door has been kept closed, after continually complaining. In this heat, that we have at present, the flies and smell is disgusting, our garden smells like a dirty hamster cage! and we have a constant buzzing. We purchased a a ‘fly bag’ to contain the flies, this bag is supposed to last for 12 weeks, it has been hanging up for 12 days and is full of flies? My husband and I have had bad coughs for three weeks, we have antibiotics and have been told we have lung infections, we mentioned the chickens to our GP, he told us that there is a disease that can be caused by pigeons and chickens. If the antibiotics do not clear the coughs, then we will have to have scans to check if we have this disease. Also can anyone tell me why this neighbour and his son wear protective clothing eg. jackets, hoodies (in this hot weather) when they enter their chicken run ? These chickens are not well cared for, they have feathers missing, and are making ‘moaning’ noises all of the time is this normal?

    • Hi there, With regards to the chickens. I’m pretty sure the disease your GP is on about is caused only when cleaning out the chickens first hand. The dust kicked up from the dropping in a confined space, is harmful to the respitory system, hence the need for masks while cleaning out.
      Some people wear protective clothing because of the birds claws. At-least i don’t but, it depends on the size of the birds in question. Mine are minatures.
      Chickens make all sorts of noises. It’s really hard to tell if they are I’ll or not, because chickens mask illnesses very well. They hardly show pain. If they are kept in appaling state then yes, i completely agree with your complaints to the authorities with regards to them. I as a chicken owner, would do the same.
      Those fly bags. Catch thousands of flies, they are meant to fill up fast. You can get refills for them, but bare in mind that you are meant to hang them away from your house, as they eventually start to smell quite bad themselves, and the last thing you’d want in return was a complaint about the smell coming from your own property (however audacious that might be.)
      I’m sorry to say but, if the authorities have been involved and no legal action has been taken as of yet, they must have seen the conditions these birds were kept in, and have decided it isn’t quite as bad as it is being made out to be. Your only other option if you are concerned about the welfare of these birds is to make contact with the RSPCA who will demand access to the property to run a thorough inspection.

      • Hi there, thanks for your comments, I believe the problem with these chickens is that they are not cleaned out often enough. The owner say’s they are cleaned out twice a week, I think in hot weather they should be cleaned out more often ? The housing assoc. officers who have visited the family always make an appointment, so the family have an opportunity to have a good clean up, the officers report back…no odour or flies! I have asked them to make an unannounced visit, as it looks as if we are telling lies? I do not understand why this family have to keep 14 chickens, they family never sit anywhere in their garden, only on the patio, as if they do not want to be near them ? Yesd we had to dispose of the fly bag after 12 days, it should have lasted 12 weeks, but as you said they stink. I noticed today we have maggots in our bird bath? something that we have not had before.

        • The cleaning out really depends on the size of the house, number of birds, bedding material and thickness and how long the chickens are spending in the coop (longer in winter). Normally for an average coop using wood shavings (Pine also has a natural disinfectant which helps) once per week is sufficient.

          I can’t really comment on the other questions, this is getting a little outside of this website. My aim is to help newcomers to the hobby rather than offer advise for disputes.

          • These chickens are in a run that is approx. 6ft X 10ft there are 14 chickens, they are not allowed out of the pen. They have soil that has lots of stones in it and ‘cleaning out’ consists of forking the soil over, the shed they sleep in has a fine layer of white stuff on a shelf, I can see this because the door opens onto our fence.

  3. could you tell me please that chicken or quail is allowed at home less than 50 or not.

    One more thing I’m allowed to sell it.


    • These rules are for the UK…

      You only need to register with Defra if you have 50 or more poultry.

      There are covenants / rules on rented houses that can prevent you from keeping chickens – usually this is in social housing schemes.

  4. We live in a converted barn on a smallholding size plot, on former arable farmland, which is just 10m outside of the parish boundary. On one side we have farmland, and the other side a row of bungalows. We decided to keep chickens and hatched some, one of which has turned out to be a cockerel. We decided to keep him with the intention of raising further chicks, and encouraging the children to care for them, and sell eggs for pocket money. The cockerel has now reached the point where he has started to crow, as cockerels do, and within two weeks of this we have received a complaint from the local council regarding “noise nuisance”.
    I’m actually a little bemused, and am wondering how we stand as regards keeping cockerels on this type of land in the countryside. If a cockerel crowing is considered noise nuisance, then it would appear that the only place a person could try to raise chickens naturally is in an isolated remote property.
    Any advice gratefully received.

    • Unfortunately they can be the cause for complaints. I would initially try keeping the chickens in until later in the morning and locating them as far away from the houses as possible, if that doesn’t work, you can get a large insulated box (with a few holes for ventilation) and put him in there, keeping it as dark as you can at night.

      If that doesn’t work…

  5. I work at an eldery peoples care home and we are about to have two chickens come to stay. Could you please let me know what policies are required. I have just been watching the local news only to discover a care home who have chickens that not only stay out side but also come in for the residents to pet.
    Thank you.

    • I’m sorry, I don’t know if there are any other rules than I have listed on these pages. I suspect not. It’s the same question for schools.

      Providing you are sensible with them, I’d guess you’ll be OK.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.