Note: from 14/12/2020 all chickens in the UK should be kept indoors to prevent the spread of avian flu. For more information, please see these articles: https://blog.omlet.co.uk/2020/11/26/
A fresh egg every day – that’s just one of the best things about having your own flock of chickens in your garden. But it’s not that simple. For the private keeping of chickens, there are some legal frameworks and conditions you must take into consideration – and those may differ from country to country.
To receive the most accurate and timely information and policies to avoid obsolete and incorrect information, please always contact the responsible authority for a local law and/or ordinance regarding livestock and poultry or an official veterinarian as a first point of contact.
Do you need to register your chickens?
Depending on the country you live in, you might need to register your chickens. In some countries, like the UK or U.S., you must register your chickens within one month by using the compulsory registration form if you keep 50 or more birds in your premises. This is important, as if you don’t register your chickens, you’re breaking the law. The law also applies if you keep flocks made up of different species, – chickens, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, patridges, pheasants, pigeons or turkeys – and birds for the consumption of meat and eggs.
In Germany, every single chicken has to be registered directly on the first day with the responsible veterinary office and must be reported to the animal disease fund. This applies to all types of poultry. This is important in order to reduce the risk of spread of an epidemic quickly and efficiently.
How many chickens make a perfect flock?
To answer this question, one major consideration is how much space you have for your chickens and how many eggs you need.
As a mature hen lays about two eggs in three days on average, keeping three to six chickens will ensure you always have a steady supply of eggs for your family. However, if your family really loves eggs or plans to give eggs away occasionally, you may wish to consider expanding your flock.
In general, it’s good to start with at least three chickens – if there’s an unexpected death, you won’t be left with a lonely one. In a breeding flock, a rooster will need four to six hens.
Space requirements of chickens vary depending on the size and breed of the chicks, and how long you are free ranging the chickens during the day. Although it is recommended to have a minimum size of 2-3 square feet per hen, please keep in your mind, the bigger, the better!
Nevertheless, it is important to have an outdoor enclosure, like the Walk In Chicken Run, to keep your chickens safe from avian predators. Another good defense against unwanted “night visitors” is a chicken coop door. If you come home late in the evening and need an alternative way of closing them safely inside, an Automatic Chicken Coop Door is recommended. With the control panel you can set the automatic door so that it opens and closes the coop at a certain time or based on the rising and setting sun.
The Omlet Autodoor opens horizontally, meaning it cannot simply be lifted up when it is closed by predators, so you and your chickens can sleep peacefully knowing that you have the safest automatic chicken door in the world.
If you have ground predators, you can also protect your flock with an electric poultry fencing.
Do my chickens need to be vaccinated?
Different countries have different requirements for poultry vaccinations, so check with the government environmental website or a local vet for advice. However, there are some diseases you should be aware of and may consider vaccinating against, such as the Bird Flu (e.g. Avian Influenza), Newcastle disease and Marek’s disease.
Bird Flu can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. In the worst scenario, if e.g. the avian influenza affects a flock, the flock has to be put down. These viruses do not normally infect humans. For more information, please visit our blog article What You Need To Know About Avian Flu.
The Newcastle disease can vary from mild to severe and unfortunately, there is no treatment for Newcastle disease yet – but when given between 14 and 21 days of age, a vaccine can help to prevent this disease. Newcastle disease is also transmissible to humans.
Marek’s Disease is caused by a chicken herpes virus and affects the chicken’s central nervous system. Like many herpes viruses, once an animal becomes infected, it will be infected for life. However, not all infected birds will get sick. This disease isn’t contagious to humans.
For the health and safety of your chicken and flock, and to prevent the risk of spread, it is definitely recommended to vaccinate them. Especially if you plan to sell or buy chickens, you need to vaccinate your hens.
And remember: always isolate new flock members for at least 30 days!
Do I need permission for chicken keeping?
Depending on where you live, some cities and towns have restrictions and regulations on chicken keeping, for example, the number of chickens that can be kept, the minimum and maximum size of the coop in which the chickens will be housed or a minimum distance to the neighbouring property. Some areas prohibit the keeping of roosters due to the extra noise; others require that all chickens be leg-banded for identification purposes.
However, you may also be subject to by-laws, lease conditions or the deeds to your house preventing you from keeping chickens, and there are rules that may apply to back-garden poultry keepers, so be sure to check your local restrictions before buying chickens.
In addition, you might want to consider your neighbours when raising chickens. Although lots of people will be won over with the promise of fresh eggs, it might be a good idea to check with your neighbours first, and assess your gardens to ensure you’ve done all you can to prevent your hens hopping over to their vegetable patch!
What are other considerations of keeping chickens in my yard?
Some regulations require you to meet some minimum requirements. In Spain, for example, the legislative provisions stipulate, you need to keep the noise level as low as possible, the chicken coop must be well illuminated and regular veterinary care must be provided.
Most suburban councils will limit the number of birds you can keep or even prohibit roosters on residential properties due to the disturbance they could cause to neighbours.
Australia is an interesting example of how different local restrictions can be. In Victoria, residences with backyards can have a maximum of five chickens, whereas New South Wales allows no more than 10 chickens in residential areas. In Western Australia, owners can keep up to 12 poultry birds. Furthermore, it is prohibited to keep roosters in general in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia.
Even the height of the perch where your chooks sleep on is set at around 30 cm off the ground.
Although there are many different regulations andlaws when it comes to chicken keeping, there is one inevitable rule which applies to all countries and local areas: chickens need access to fresh bedding, food and water at all times!
Always be sure you are in accordance with local ordinances and up-to-date before embarking on your chicken-keeping endeavor, especially as policies and law can change. Obtaining information such as the correct local hen house keeping (farming method for laying hens) or the examination of species-appropriate hen houses is important, – each country has its own animal welfare requirements and regulations, and should not be ignored.