Keeping chickens in the UK is fairly common. Many people do so to get fresh eggs, and have some of the best pets you can possibly have (in my opinion). There are very few laws about keeping chickens, and not many acts of parliament to stop you keeping poultry. Indeed, the allotment act allows you to keep chickens.
Whilst there may not be laws to stop you keeping birds, there are laws, by-laws and restrictions in place that you must check and follow if you want to keep birds. This includes registering your flock, and what you can feed them. There may also be local by-laws that you have to follow.
Local By-laws About Keeping Chickens
There are many local authorities throughout the UK, and they are each different from the other. They may have local laws about keeping chickens in place that mean you cannot keep birds, or restrict the type of bird that you have, or the numbers. The best way to find out about this, is to contact your local council and ask.
It is also worth remembering, that if you wish to place a chicken coop onto land, this may require planning approval, especially if you live in an Article 4 area.
Virtually every property in the UK has a title deed. Within the title deed, it lists where the property is, as well as a host of other information. One of the crucial pieces of information in there are the covenants.
Typically, you may have heard of a covenant being used for the sale of land, that if the buyer (or the buyers, buyer and so on) build houses on that land, then a certain amount is then payable to the seller. However, covenants can cover a vast array of items.
It is always worth checking what the covenants are, and if they block the keeping of poultry. It may block certain poultry, or the number of birds or housing units. It may restrict to just hens, or out right ban the keeping of birds.
Restrictive Covenants may also block commercial vehicles being parked on land, or washing being hung in the front garden, and so much more.
You can get the title deed by doing a search at the UK Land Registry website.
Law on registering
It is a legal requirement, that if you have more than 50 birds on your property, you must register, within 1 month, with the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency). However, you can also voluntary register (I recommend you do, even if you have 3 birds).
This applies across poultry and waterfowl, and includes Chickens, Ducks, Turkeys, Geese, Guinea Fowl, Quail, Partridge, Pheasant and Pigeons.
It doesn’t matter how many of each species you have, if you have more than 50 birds, you MUST register.
I said above that I recommend that you register even if you have a few birds. That way, you receive all the latest news and updates from the APHA. They are very quick to send out alerts with disease warning (like bird flu) and keep you updated with what is happening. They also run the occasional web seminar.
Law on feeding kitchen scraps
You cannot, legally, feed your kitchen scraps to your poultry. It doesn’t matter if your animals are kept as pets, or commercially, in the UK (and across most of Europe) it’s illegal.
You may see old video of people feeding pigs on their small holdings the leftovers from the family’s food, or American YouTubers giving restaurant waste to their chickens, but it is illegal in the UK.
The main reason why it is illegal, is to help prevent the spread of diseases such as African Swine Flu and Foot and Mouth. Whilst these may not be poultry specific diseases, there are others that can be spread to the birds.
Have we missed any laws about keeping chickens?
These are the basic laws that apply in the UK. There are some more that we haven’t covered that stipulate animal welfare etc. Are there any laws or legislation that have been missed of this list? If so, let us know in the comments section below.