Lesson 962 – Those darn UK chickens

The other day when I wrote about Cowboy Stew, I got this interesting reply from a reader; Becky Pearson:

Interestingly in the UK it is illegal to feed your chickens table scraps. I end up cooking portions specifically for them, they are part of the family after all

What? You can’t feed your backyard chickens kitchen scraps – why on earth not?

She quoted me from DEFRA (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is the government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the United Kingdom.)

Can livestock be fed waste foods not containing meat and fish which comes from premises where meat and fish are handled?
The Regulations prohibit the feeding of meat, fish and most other products of animal origin to ruminants, pigs or poultry. They also make it an offense to allow them to have access to such material. They also prohibit any catering waste being fed, whether processed or not. This also includes catering waste from vegetarian restaurants and kitchens.

If material such as vegetables, pastry, crisps or sweets is to be fed to livestock, it should originate from premises where no meat or most other products of animal origin are handled and may not come from any kitchen or restaurant. However, there are some circumstances where, providing premises e.g. bakers, supermarkets, crisps manufacturers, confectioners (but not from kitchens and restaurants) are able to demonstrate that they have Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) procedures in place to ensure that there is no possibility of the material intended to be fed to livestock being contaminated by meat or most other products of animal origin, it may be acceptable for the material to originate on the same premises (but not from vegetarian catering facilities). In such cases, operators are advised to ensure that their local authority is content that their separation procedures are adequate.

And if you call DEFRA (or deaf-ears as they are known here) they will say it does include chickens in your back garden. Not as though it can be policed, Becky added.

Here is a link to the page http://www.defra.gov.uk/ahvla-en/disease-control/abp/collect-feed/ban-kitchen-scraps-pet/

I think this is primarily because keeping chickens as pets is a relatively new (or newly popularized/advertised) pass time. I can understand in some respects – you don’t want to feed rhubarb or potato leaves etc.

I asked Becky if anyone was challenging this ruling and this is her reply:

I am uncertain if anyone has challenged this, and personally I do not feed anything to my animals something which I am not happy to eat myself – pellets are gritty but ok-ish. (Ok not slugs but people eat snails so I take their word for it. And my sister used to eat worms when she was young so I believe they are ok.)

Becky is a British hobby chicken keeper. She keeps her 7 chickens as pets and lives next door to her best friend who has 17 chickens. Her friend Wendy’s hen frequently come into Becky’s garden and house. One in particular comes round for a cup of tea (milk two sugars) and helps herself to chicken food


Peggy drinking tea


Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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Filed under Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicks, Holidays, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Personal, Quotable Chicks, The Family

5 responses to “Lesson 962 – Those darn UK chickens

  1. Mark D

    Wendy, I think that the UK rules regarding feed not containing meat or fish is based upon findings that the BVE (Mad Cow) Disease was rooted in the animals having been fed contaminated meat by products…

  2. Scary rules for home chickens especially when the negative problems of the nineties were in mass produced factory farmed environments and showed little respect for animal diet. I tend to think back yard chickens are often raised I. The opposite manner with far more consideration.

    • Cannibalism among humans is rare. It’s mostly a myth-meme. Wikipedia will tell you more than you want to know about the practice, which was known in a few places, such as New Guinea. Just as careless feeding of scraps to chickens can cause illness, careless eating of human flesh can spread brain infections from “prions” (carriers of “mad cow disease). I am sure there are now fussy, over-protective rules against cannibalism in New Guinea, Africa, and other places where people occasionally snacked on each other.

      I also suggest listening to the wonderful song by Flanders and Swann on YouTube, “The Cannibal Song.” I recommend the original performance (the visuals are not much but the performance is better) if you can find it.

  3. Keith Alexander

    Yes we are regulated by Defra rules we also have to be Defra registered if we keep more than 50 birds as well. I went way over that number last year but no men in suits turned up to march me off to the Tower!
    We also have to have a CPH (county Parish Holding) number if we keep cloven hooved animals as that is a much more serious requirement as it directly relates to the effective movement control and management in the event of major problems like Foot and Mouth disease!

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