Writ­ten and un­writ­ten laws

Country Smallholding - - Poultry Pen -

Keep­ing chick­ens and in­tro­duc­ing them into your gar­den or back yard might not be on a par with re­leas­ing wild boar to the New For­est, but it does re­quire an as­sess­ment of your im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ment.

The first con­sid­er­a­tion is the law. Are you legally al­lowed to keep chick­ens (of­ten sim­ply re­ferred to as live­stock) on your land? Do your land deeds ac­com­mo­date this use and does the lo­cal leg­is­la­tion en­able it, or are there rules that pro­hibit it? It’s al­ways bet­ter to check di­rectly rather than as­sume you have the right to do so.

In most cases there will be noth­ing to stop you from legally keep­ing chick­ens on your prop­erty. But how about the ‘un­writ­ten law’? This is the one that is fre­quently for­got­ten —the law of com­mon cour­tesy, de­cency, and re­spect, in which you con­sider your neigh­bours. You might be lucky and have no near neigh­bours to worry about, but for a large ma­jor­ity of peo­ple neigh­bours are a fact of life, so don’t ex­pect them nec­es­sar­ily to ig­nore your new feath­ered friends.

One way to mit­i­gate the risk of of­fend­ing your neigh­bours is to visit a friend who al­ready has chick­ens in their gar­den and per­form the ‘eyes, ears, and nose test’. Most peo­ple, when faced with the prospect of a neigh­bour get­ting a flock of chick­ens, will mainly be con­cerned with the im­pact on them, and are likely to ask three ques­tions: ‘Will they be an eye­sore?’; ‘Will they be noisy dur­ing the day and in the early hours?’ and ‘Will there be a smell?’ When you visit your friend’s flock, ask these ques­tions, see what the re­sponses are, and test them with your eyes, ears, and nose. That way, you should be able to give a con­fi­dent and ed­u­cated re­sponse should you get sim­i­lar ques­tions from your neigh­bours.

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