How do I keep a neighbours chickens out of my yard or garden?
So it isn't a nice experience to have your neighbours chickens scratching up your flower beds, eating your fruit or rampaging through your backyard garden doing all sorts of damage, not to mention pooping all over the place.
The law on chickens keeping is broadly similar across most parts of the world and in all the countries I looked it is the responsibility of the owner to look after their chickens and see that they are enclosed. The keeper is responsible for any damage they do as well.
The reality can be quite different and not every chicken keeper is conscientious a a considerable proportion of your neighbours just won't care what their chickens are up to in your backyard.
So what can you do about it if your neighbours chickens are a nuisance?
So your neighbours have got chickens and they are coming on your land and scratching around in your garden, eating your plants and leaving poop everywhere.
Firstly, you might want to actually go and speak to them. They might not realise the birds are causing a problem.
Secondly take some local legal advice as law varies the world over. Part of this is normally putting your complaint in writing in a factual way.
Chickens go where the food, water and perches are so make sure there is nothing to eat or standing water in their reach and you will have more luck keeping them away.
Call animal control in the US or the RSPCA in the UK as these organisations have the authority to seize animals they deem in danger and will likely have more luck if you have difficult neighbours.
If you are prepared to act yourself you can put a 6 foot chickens wire fence up to keep the chickens out of your backyard. This has the benefit of being a quick, cheap and easy solution.
Below: The neighbours chickens have been in and eaten your broccolli!
Motion activated sprinklers will keep chickens away.
Consider striking a deal for a dozen free eggs a week.
Things you should never do to someone else chickens:
You should never shoot, kill, injure or kidnap your neighbours chickens even if they are coming in your yard.
You are responsible for the death of livestock if you do and allowing your dogs to attack someone else chickens then it can cost you money and you could be in trouble with the law.
Never use moth balls or other poisons to try and kill the flock.
In some parts of the world you are allowed to hold livestock in lieu of payment for damages but this is rarely a satisfactory solution as you have to care for and feed the birds while they are in your care.
Things you should always do if your neighbours chickens are being a nuisance:
- Gather some evidence. Take pictures and video and timed notes.
- Put up a fence. It is the responsibility of the owner to make a reasonable effort to keep their chickens on their own land but I have had some terrible neighbours in the past and it is just easier to solve the problem yourself. Fences will need to be at least 6 foot tall and you can clip the feathers on one wing of any birds that get over the wall.
- Call Animal control or the RSPCA.
How to get rid of unwanted chickens:
Ways to keep your neighbours chickens out of your yard that actually work:
- A 6 foot tall fence.
- Motion activated sprinklers.
- Animal control.
Nothing else works. Chickens will go where they want to for food, water, dust baths or just to be nosey.
Below: Chickens get over low fences. 6 foot tall is the minimum.
Ways of dealing with a neighbours chickens that are a waste of time:
Spices and chillies or chilli powder: Chickens do not have the taste receptors required for capsaicin to work. Heat doesn't work.
Mothballs: Chickens are unlikely to eat them and they ignore or get used to the smell very quickly.
Fake Birds of prey: Fake hawks, owls and birds of prey do not keep chickens out of your yard or garden. Predators need to move in very specific ways to trigger the flight response in chickens. I have tested this with stuffed birds of prey from a friend of mine who was a taxidermist and none of them had any effect at all. The chickens wandered around them as if they were part of the furniture.
Training chickens: You can't really train chickens to stay in the yard, they follow the food and wander about as they like.
Will chickens annoy your neighbours?
Not always. I have had a neighbour a few years ago that loved having my chickens wandering around in her garden but she was elderly and had no other pets and I made sure she was never short of eggs.
On the other hand the very thought of having chickens next door might drive some neighbours mad. They might be worried about crowing, rats, smell and poop as well as them getting into their yard.
Can Neighbours complain about chickens?
Your neighbours can absolutely complain about your chickens and can make your life quite difficult if they wanted to.
They can hound you with calls to the authorities and report you for being a public nuisance or not controlling livestock in your care.