If you live in a residential area in Britain, or anywhere around the globe, you may think it’s impossible to keep some chickens without causing issues for the chickens or your neighbors.
Suburban houses often have a small amount of garden space & there is often plenty of space to not only keep chickens, but grow lots of vegetables too. Most people are not aware how much can be achieved in the average British garden.
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There are some basic requirements for keeping chickens, if you do not fit all the criteria it’s not the end of the world, there are usually creative alternatives available out there.
In this article we will cover some key aspects of how you might be able keep some chickens of your own if you live in a suburban area. My experience is in suburban Britain but there is no reason you can’t apply these techniques in other suburban parts of the world.
How much space does a chicken need?
Like any animal a chicken will benefit from being able to get some fresh air and exercise properly. Therefore it is important to consider if you have enough space to keep active & happy chickens.
The chicken coop should allow for a minimum of 2-3 square feet per chicken and at least 3.5 feet high. In the chicken run, they should have around 8-10 feet per chicken.
The law on keeping chickens in the UK
Do I need a licence to keep chickens? Compulsory registration
If you plan to keep more than 50 chickens you will need a Licence to keep them in the UK. For anything under this amount, you do not need to register them unless they are for commercial use.
For the majority of readers however I feel this is not an issue as the numbers will be far less than that.
You can voluntarily register your poultry as pets, APHA will be able to contact you if there’s a disease outbreak (such as bird flu) in your area, you’ll help prevent the spread of disease and protect the national poultry flock
For a full run down on the rules and regulations see the UK government site here.
Is it hard to keep chickens?
There are many of advantages to keeping chickens, like the abundance of free range eggs and the entertainment gained from watching them go about their day. It is also important to note the negatives of keeping an animal. If we don’t consider these too, it can result in a negative experience for you and the chickens!
So, as a heads up here are some of the not so good points about keeping poultry like chickens;
- Added cost: Chickens do come with a maintenance cost
- They can attract rats and mice: or a snack enticer for my cat!
- They require daily maintenance and looking after (..like any pet!)
- Health problems can develop
- Hens can be quite nasty to each other
Keeping chickens in a run
The more ‘free range’ you can keep your chickens the happier they will be. However, if you are keeping them in a run it is important to make sure the run is adequate. Make sure the chicken has enough space, somewhere to scratch and turn over the soil for bugs and other snacks.
Chickens enjoy rooting through a bail of hay or straw, it will keep them thoroughly entertained for hours if not days! My chickens are out everyday in the garden, they really love to pick through old leaves and scratch through the soil. If you can include these elements in your run, you should have happy chickens.
Chicken coops come in many shapes and sizes, from purpose built chicken coops to conversions of sheds, coal sheds, wood stores. As long as there is enough space and it is secure from predators you can convert pretty much anything into a chicken coop.
At the Backyard Farm, we converted a garden shed into a spacious chicken coop with 2 nest boxes. There is enough room in there for another 2 next boxes and 2 more chickens, they maybe introduced at a later date.