GUIDELINES FOR KEEPING HENS ON ALLOTMENTS
These minimum requirements have been drawn up with a clear focus on Animal welfare and the fact that the hens will mostly be on their own during the day. A plot holder keeping hens on an EAGS Allotment site commits to a duty of care to the hens and is responsible for their wellbeing. Tenants who choose to keep hens on their plot must check on them regularly, provide competent care and management, and have the knowledge and skills to ensure the wellbeing of the hens. In addition tenants are expected to keep the hens under proper control to avoid disturbance to other tenants. See "Reference Material" section for details.
This needs to provide proper shelter from the elements and an appropriate means of exercise by the provision of a wire fenced run. A means of access to the shelter must be available to the poultry at all times, except when cleaning and disinfection is being carried out. The accommodation will require cleansing and disinfecting and all litter etc, needs to be disposed of in secure containers or an appropriate place, well within the boundaries of the plot, and where it is not required on the plot, it must be taken off site by the tenant. Nest boxes, roosting areas and perches must be properly located and all exercise runs must be escape and predator proof. A run can be constructed to a maximum height of 2.1m
Feeding and watering
Water must be available at all times and all equipment kept clean and in good order. Feed should be kept in vermin proof containers. Feeders must be made of metal and vermin proof. (See images below). Any diet must be properly balanced for the breed and given in sufficient amounts to ensure the proper wellbeing of the hens. The risk of drinking water freezing during cold weather must be considered. Please note that the allotment site water supply is shut off between the months of October and March so please make alternative provision.
Number of Hens and Permitted use of Plot Space
You may only use a maximum of 25% of your allocated plot size for chickens. A maximum of ten hens per plot is allowed. Chickens are a social animal and need companionship so must be kept in small groups, minimum size group is two. All chickens must be able to stand, turn around and stretch their wings and have sufficient space to perch or sit down without interference from each other. They also need space to make dust baths for themselves, which helps them to clean their plumage of mites.
No cockerels may be kept on site.
Health and Welfare
As stated above, all birds must be inspected regularly. The plot holder must allow the Site Manager or other EAGS committee member to inspect the poultry at any time. Please be aware that the average life of a hen can be eight years and that the active egg laying period is generally only for two to three years, with production of eggs reducing in the third year. The plot holder should therefore consider what they intend to do with the hens once the hens are no longer productive. The hens must be checked regularly for lice and the hen house treated for red mite. Any sick or injured birds must be removed immediately and treatment provided, the cause of any disease or injury identified and remedial action taken. Any national disease prevention and/or control programs must be adhered to. Dead birds must be disposed of in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Animal By-Products Regulations 2003. It is not permitted for the burial or burning of hens on site. Land on which birds are kept may become “fowl sick”. Muddy conditions lead to ill health and discomfort. It is therefore important that the outdoor run is moved from time to time if the floor of the run is not replaced regularly.
Nuisance to Neighbours and Cleanliness
Provided the hens are kept healthy and in clean conditions; food stuffs are stored such that they are kept clean, tidy and properly protected from rodents and other pests. The keeping of hens should not become a nuisance to others. This is the duty of the tenant and is part of their Allotment Tenancy. In the keeping of hens on an allotment, the plot holder should take all reasonable measures to minimise potential nuisances. The plot holder will be responsible for any damage to other plots should they escape. On no account are hens to be abandoned by the plot holder. Any costs involved in this event would be sought from the plot holder concerned. Tenants are reminded of Allotment Rule 4.4 “No business trade or profession whatsoever may be operated on or from an allotment garden.” This in relation to the selling of eggs. It is permitted to give the eggs away.
Although registration is not required for less than fifty hens it is recommended that tenants do register with DEFRA and sign up for animal health warnings.
DEFRA Poultry Registration
APHA Alerts Subscription Service
RSPCA Welfare of Animals kept on Allotments (only applicable for Hens and Rabbits)
RSPCA Health & Welfare of Pet Chickens
RSPCA The Welfare of Laying Hens
Training : Middle Farm - Keeping Happy Healthy Hens at Home Course
Code of Recommendation for the Welfare of Domestic Fowls from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DFRA).
Backyard Poultry in Great Britain: General Guidance
Allotment Act 1950
Animal By- Products Regulations 2003
Animal Welfare Act