Can You Keep Chickens in a Small Garden?

Keeping chickens in a small garden has become an increasingly popular trend in recent years, as more people seek to live more sustainably and connect with their food sources. While some people may think that chickens require a large yard or farm to thrive, it is actually possible to raise chickens in a small garden, even in urban areas.

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One of the main reasons people are interested in keeping chickens in a small garden is for the fresh eggs they produce. Unlike store-bought eggs, backyard eggs are typically more nutritious and flavourful, as the chickens are able to eat a variety of foods and get plenty of exercise. Additionally, having chickens in the garden can provide a natural solution to pest control, as they will eat many common garden pests like slugs and snails.


Another reason people might be interested in keeping chickens in a small garden is for the sustainability benefits. By raising their own chickens for eggs, people can reduce their reliance on industrial agriculture and support a more localized food system. Additionally, chickens produce high-quality fertilizer that can be used to improve soil health and promote plant growth in the garden.


Overall, there are many benefits to keeping chickens in a small garden, and it is a great way to connect with nature and the food system. In the following sections, we will discuss some of the key factors to consider and tips for success when raising chickens in a small garden.


The Benefits of Keeping Chickens in a Small Garden:

There are many benefits to keeping chickens in a small garden, beyond just having access to fresh eggs. Here are some of the advantages that may surprise you:


Reduced Food Waste:

Chickens are great at reducing food waste. They will eat many types of food scraps, including fruit and vegetable peels, stale bread, and even leftover meat. This can help reduce the amount of food waste that ends up in the landfill, while also providing a free source of food for the chickens. In 2010, the Belgian town of Mouscron gave away chickens to its residents to help reduce food waste. This initiative successfully highlighted the fact that chickens are great at reducing food waste. It’s important to point out that chickens need a constant access to a quality feed


Natural Pest Control:

Chickens are excellent at controlling garden pests, such as slugs, snails, and insects. They will happily eat these pests, while also aerating the soil with their scratching and pecking. This can help reduce the need for chemical pesticides and promote a more natural and healthy garden ecosystem.


Fertilizer Production:

Chicken manure is a rich source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are essential nutrients for plants. By keeping chickens in the garden, you can produce high-quality fertilizer for free. Just be sure to compost the manure before using it in the garden, as fresh chicken manure can be too strong for plants.


Educational Opportunities for Children:

Raising chickens in a small garden can be a great way to teach children about the natural world and where their food comes from. Children can learn about the life cycle of chickens, the benefits of composting, and how to care for animals. This can help foster a love of nature and a sense of responsibility for the environment.


Sense of Connection to the Food System:

Keeping chickens in a small garden can also help people feel more connected to their food sources. By raising their own chickens for eggs, people can see first hand where their food comes from and have a greater appreciation for the work that goes into producing it. This can lead to a greater sense of food security and self-sufficiency.

In summary, there are many benefits to keeping chickens in a small garden, including reduced food waste, natural pest control, fertilizer production, educational opportunities for children, and a greater sense of connection to the food system. By incorporating chickens into the garden, you can create a more sustainable and holistic ecosystem that benefits both plants and animals.


Factors to Consider Before Keeping Chickens in a Small Garden:

While keeping chickens in a small garden can be a rewarding experience, it’s important to recognize that it’s not for everyone. Before starting a chicken coop in your backyard, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you’re equipped to handle the responsibilities and challenges that come with raising chickens.


Local Laws and Regulations:

Before starting a backyard chicken coop, it’s important to research local laws and regulations to make sure that you’re in compliance. Some cities and towns have specific rules about the number of chickens you can keep, coop placement, and noise levels. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines and even the loss of your chickens. For example many UK Councils restrict number of chickens you can keep in your garden to less than 50 before you have to register.


Space Requirements for Chickens and the Coop:

Chickens need a certain amount of space to move around and be comfortable. The size of your garden will determine the number of chickens you can keep and the size of the coop needed to house them. It’s important to provide enough space for your chickens to move around, access food and water, and lay eggs comfortably.


To ensure adequate living space, provide at least 1 square meter per hen in the run. It is recommended to provide 2 square meters per hen to reduce the chances of conflicts and bullying. Providing more space allows bullied chickens to escape and reduces the likelihood of them being trapped in corners.


Research shows that for chickens to roost comfortably, there should be a minimum of 20cm (8″) for smaller chickens and bantams, and 25cm (10″) for larger breeds. If there’s insufficient space on one roost, add more, ensuring they are at least 46cm (18″) apart.
Chicken experts generally suggest having one nesting space for every five birds as a minimum (with a min. size of a nest 12inch x 12inch x 12ich depending on a chickens breed). However, some recommend no more than one nest per 3-4 birds, which aligns with the Five Freedoms guidelines promoting animal welfare.
For a small flock of 3 chickens you will be safe to provide two nests to give your hens a bit of a choice…

Noise and Odour Considerations:

Chickens are noisy animals and can be a nuisance to neighbours, particularly if they’re housed close to property lines. In addition, chicken coops can produce a strong odour if not maintained properly. It’s important to take these factors into consideration before starting a backyard chicken coop and to ensure that your coop is properly ventilated and cleaned to reduce odour.


Predators and Safety Concerns:

Chickens are vulnerable to predators such as raccoons, foxes, and hawks. It’s important to take measures to protect your chickens, such as building a secure coop and run, and keeping them enclosed at night. In addition, it’s important to practice safe handling techniques to avoid injury to both yourself and your chickens.

Before starting a backyard chicken coop, it’s important to research these factors and ensure that you’re prepared to take on the responsibilities of raising chickens in a small garden. By doing so, you can help ensure the safety and well-being of both your chickens and your neighbours. For more information on these factors and how to address them, there are several resources available, including local government websites, online forums, and backyard chicken keeping guides.


Tips for Keeping Chickens in a Small Garden:

If you’ve decided to keep chickens in your small garden, there are several tips that can help ensure a successful and rewarding experience.


Choosing the Right Breed:

Some breeds of chickens are better suited for small gardens than others. Bantam breeds, for example, are smaller and require less space than larger breeds. They’re also generally quieter and more docile, which can make them a better choice for urban or suburban settings. Be sure to research breeds that are appropriate for your climate, space, and lifestyle.


Building a Chicken Coop:

When building a chicken coop for a small garden, it’s important to maximize space and function. Consider incorporating features like a vertical feeder and waterer to save space, and using wire mesh or hardware cloth to provide ample ventilation while keeping your chickens safe from predators. Make sure the coop is easy to clean and that there is enough space for your chickens to move around comfortably.


Incorporating Chickens into Garden Design:

Chickens can be a valuable asset to your garden, providing natural pest control and fertilizer. Consider creating a “chicken tractor” to allow your chickens to graze on specific areas of your garden, or building a compost bin that can be filled with chicken waste and other organic materials.


Managing Waste and Sanitation:

Proper waste management and sanitation are essential for keeping your chickens healthy and your garden clean. Regularly cleaning the coop and providing fresh bedding can help prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria. Consider composting chicken waste to create a nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden.


By following these tips, you can create a thriving and sustainable small garden with chickens as an integral part of your ecosystem. Remember to always prioritize the safety and well-being of your chickens, and to consult with experienced chicken keepers or professionals for additional guidance and support.



In conclusion, keeping chickens in a small garden can be a rewarding and sustainable way to enhance your garden and provide fresh eggs. While there are several factors to consider, such as local regulations and space requirements, with the right knowledge and preparation, anyone can successfully raise chickens in a small garden.


As author and chicken keeper Lisa Steele once said, “Keeping chickens is like gardening, except instead of growing plants, you’re growing feathers.”


By incorporating chickens into your garden ecosystem, you can benefit from natural pest control, fertilizer production, and reduced food waste, while also connecting with the food system in a meaningful way.

If you’re interested in keeping chickens in a small garden, there are many resources available to help you get started. Local chicken keeping groups, online forums, and books on backyard chicken keeping can provide invaluable advice and support. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek out guidance from experienced chicken keepers.


With careful planning and attention to the needs of your chickens, keeping chickens in a small garden can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your feathered friends. So, go ahead and take the plunge – your garden (and your taste buds) will thank you!

2 thoughts on “Can You Keep Chickens in a Small Garden?”

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