It’s a question that many people ask themselves, before they take the leap into buying their first chickens. I don’t keep mine at home, but it’s something I have been asked time and time again. So I did a bit of research, and, can you keep chickens in your garden?
The answer is, it depends. There are many variables as to whether you would be able to keep chickens in your garden. In this article, we’ll look at a few of them, and try to answer the question, as well as providing some practical advice.
Firstly, who owns the property? Is it yourself, or do you rent? If it’s yourself, then the chances are you can, unless there is something written into your deeds, or the local council have restrictions in your area. If you are only keeping hens, this should be ok, but if you want to bring a cockerel in, this may annoy the neighbours (see below).
For renters, you will need approval of the landlord or property owner, to allow pets, and especially chickens, to live in the garden. They may be OK with this, or they may be hesitant of the damage that the birds can do to the grass and the garden. Either way, getting their permission first, can save heartache further down the line.
Can You Keep Chickens In Your Garden? Including a cockerel?
Cockerels are well known for being the voice of the dawn chorus. In fact, many cockerels will make the cock-a-doodle-doo noise throughout the day. This isn’t the only noise they make, and the frequency is normally greater in the morning or the evening. During the winter this isn’t too bad, but in the height of summer they can start at 4am and go on until 10pm.
The answer to the cockerel question again comes down to who owns the property? If it’s yourself, then you’ll probably be ok, provided the cockerel isn’t annoying the neighbours. However, be aware that neighbours may start to complain. You’ll then have angry neighbours, and possibly the council to deal with.
If you rent, then the landlord may specify that you can only keep hens, and no cockerels in the garden. But, like above, if they do allow cockerels, and the neighbours start complaining, they may ask you to remove the bird from the property.
How many hens should you keep in your garden?
If you are only keeping hens in your garden, with no cockerels to look after them, then 4 to 5 is the maximum that I would go to. Whilst you can keep more, this is a good pack number for the birds, and they can maintain a pecking order.
On the other side, I would aim for a minimum of 3. Chickens are group animals and like to be with other chickens. If you keep 3, should you lose 1, you’ll still have 2 to keep each other company.
Why should I keep chickens in my garden?
Keeping chickens is a fun and entertaining pastime. Each bird has its own unique personality, and gradually over time they will come to enjoy spending time with you. They may sit on your lap, and it’s not unheard of to hear of chickens laying eggs on their owner’s laps.
Chickens are great at keeping the number of bugs and creepy crawlies down. They will scratch around the grass, flower beds, mud and enjoy eating anything they can find. This may include your prize vegetables and flowers as well.
They may also provide you with fresh eggs. This won’t be every single day, from every bird, and there are a number of other factors, but they should be laying eggs for you.
If you are a gardener, their old bedding can be placed onto the compost heap, and once composted down, will provide a fertile compost for the garden.
If you are able to keep birds in your back garden, then please remember the basics of chicken keeping.
1. Safety – They need to be safe during the day and at night. This is from the fox and other predators (cats, dogs, birds of prey)
2. Water – the birds need access to clean drinking water.
3. Food – the birds should be fed a proper chicken feed. Remember, it’s illegal in the UK to feed chickens (and other animals whose products enter the food stream) kitchen scraps and waste.
You may also want to consider clipping the chicken’s wings, as they can easier fly up and onto a 6ft fence. Before you know it, they’ll be in the neighbour’s garden, eating their plants.
There isn’t a straight answer to the question of ‘Can You Keep Chickens In Your Garden?’ and it all really comes down to your personal circumstances, and if you have the time and dedication to look after them.