Keeping poultry in an urban environment can cause a number of problems:
If you keep poultry, in particular a cockerel, you have a duty to make sure that it does not cause a nuisance to you neighbours.
If a cockerel is causing a nuisance its owner could be served with a legal notice which requires the nuisance to be stopped. If they don’t comply they could face a fine of up to £5000.
Cockerels causing problems with noise or odour can be considered a statutory nuisance.
If we receive a complaint about a cockerel causing a nuisance then our Environmental Health team has a duty to investigate.
You can report a noise nuisance on our report a noise nuisance form.
Many properties have covenants to prevent the keeping of poultry and other livestock. For rented accommodation it is best to speak to the landlord to see if this applies to the property you are living in.
Chicken coops and runs, depending on their size may require planning permission.
The scientific basis for a cockerel crowing is to declare it’s his patch and it is part of the male’s territorial display. All cockerel owners must make sure that the crowing of their bird does not cause a statutory noise nuisance.
It’s good to remember that cockerels aren’t needed for hens to lay eggs.
If our Environmental Health team receive a complaint about noise we have a legal duty to investigate it. This may include:
In deciding whether the noise from crowing is a statutory nuisance, we will consider some of the following:
If we believes the noise is a statutory nuisance as defined under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 an Abatement Notice will be served under section 80 on the person responsible for the noise. The Notice is a legal document and will require the noise to be stopped. If the Notice isn’t complied with the owner or person responsible for the cockerels could face a fine of up to £5,000 for domestic premises and £20,000 for commercial/industrial premises. Additionally, the cockerel could be removed from the property.
There are three ways in which crowing can be kept to a minimum to prevent nuisance from a cockerel:
Vermin such as rats and mice may be attracted to any food or water that is left out for poultry. Additionally, any housing or shelters will provide shelter for vermin. There is a legal requirement for everyone to keep their property free from rats and mice. To prevent vermin, shelters must be cleaned regularly and any uneaten food should be removed at the end of each day.
During warm weather, particularly in the summer months, problems can arise with odour due to shelters not being cleaned on a regular basis. Environmental Health Officers can take action for this type of odour nuisance.
As the owner of poultry it is your responsibility to prevent it from straying beyond the boundary of your property/land. If you have 50 or more birds, you have to register with the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), even if the birds are only there for part of the year. If you have less than 50 birds you can still register voluntarily at the Defra website
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 places a duty on the owners of all animals/birds to ensure their needs are met. These include the following:
It is against the law to be cruel to an animal/bird and if you do not meet its needs you can be served with an Improvement Notice or prosecuted. If you are found guilty you may be banned from owning animals/birds, fined up to £20,000 and/or sent to prison.
Poultry are susceptible to many diseases and need to be checked on a regular basis. Avian Influenza is a highly contagious viral disease, which affects the respiratory, digestive and or nervous system of many species of birds. It is a notifiable disease, which means that the Animal Health regional Office must be told of all suspected cases.
If you have poultry and are planning to or already selling surplus eggs you must register as a food business. This includes selling eggs to friends over the garden gate or on a market stall for example.