If your neighbors are not amenable to the idea of you having chickens, you have two choices: the first is to back down and meekly acquiesce and forget all about those lovely eggs. The second is to go right ahead and get some chickens anyway but to make solid efforts to ensure that your chickens, don’t drive your neighbors mad.
10 brilliant ways to hide chickens from your neighbors is a guide to doing just that. We cover: making the coop less noticeable, keeping things clean, the importance of keeping your chickens on your land, avoiding vermin, avoiding predators, sharing the love, educating your neighbors, noise control, what to keep private and taking precautions against neighbors that just won’t stop.
Check The Law Before You Begin
It’s fair to say that your biggest potential hurdle may be a legal one. There are some parts of the world and, indeed, America with very strict zoning regulations and if you infringe on these, then one phone call from an angry neighbor is likely to see you without chickens and without a large amount of cash as you get fined for the chickens you no longer have.
So, check and make sure that you know that you are allowed to have chickens and whether there are any restrictions on numbers (and particularly for roosters which are often require to be kept to a minimum).
If you can’t find a sensible answer online as to whether you are OK to keep chickens, don’t despair – make an appointment with the local zoning officer and get them to explain things to you. Be clear about your issue and seek their input to get it resolved.
This can be very helpful if there are problems later on too because the zoning officer will already know you and that you want to eliminate problems rather than to be the cause of them. It makes it easier for them to take your side in a dispute.
Also, while the law is a useful guide to what you can do, we think it’s only fair to be considerate too. If you know that your next-door neighbor is a shift-worker, for example, then letting your rooster crow at all hours of the night is not a nice thing to do even if it is legal.
So, do something about it (you can get a “no crow” collar for him, for example) before it turns into a lifelong feud between the two of you.
10 Brilliant Ways To Hide Your Chickens From Your Neighbors
OK, at this stage we need to acknowledge that we haven’t got a cloak from Harry Potter and that you cannot make your chickens invisible. You can, however, try to reduce their impact on the people around you as much as possible. That’s what we mean by “hidden” – “hiding in plain sight”.
We’ve got 10 super tips to help you get this done too:
Make The Chicken Coop Unobtrusive
One of the number one concerns that your neighbors are likely to have is the effect of your chickens on their property value. Given that no-one has ever studied the value of neighboring properties before and after the arrival of chickens – there’s no way to argue this point effectively.
We’ve heard arguments from some folks who say it might boost property values as the rural feel of chickens ought to make it feel more homely but we’ve no evidence that this is true either.
But what we can say for sure is that the better you keep your coop, the less likely it is to have an impact on the value of anyone’s house, including yours.
So, what you want to do is design it with that in mind. How can you place it so that it’s least visible from next door? How can you paint it to blend in rather than stand out? Can you move it farther away from your neighbors? Have you considered installing noise proofing in the coop?
One really easy way to keep a coop from view is to plant a few bushes around it, though try to pick something that won’t poison your chickens, they need to be able to live in peace too or to plant trees along the border between you and your neighbors so that they reduce visibility from their properties into yours.
These thoughts are best had before you install the coop rather than afterward when they become the precursor to expensive modifications. Our number one recommendation throughout these tips is to try and keep your neighbors on side in the first place. Life’s much better with both chickens and friendly neighbors.
Always Keep The Coop And Nesting Boxes Clean
You don’t have to clean the coop hourly but you do need to make sure that you’ve cleaned it on a regular basis (we describe how to clean your chicken coop here) and that under no circumstances do you allow things to start stinking.
Firstly, your neighbors are absolutely right to object to anyone making the local air smell foul. You’re not likely to get much sympathy from the zoning authorities if your actions lead to the level of gassing out someone’s friends and family from their yard and it’s totally unnecessary too.
Chickens don’t stink in the wild. They only stink in captivity when the coop and nesting boxes are filthy, so it’s your job to stop that from happening.
Secondly, and nearly as importantly. If you allow large amounts of chicken poop to build up, you will start to poison your yard (concentrated chicken poop is not good for plants) and worse, it will start to attract infestations of the kind of creatures we’d all rather not share living space with.
So, keeping the coop clean is in your interests as well as the interest of your neighbor, it will keep your house free of flies and other creepy crawlies and theirs free of stench. That’s a pretty good trade off, all told.
Make Sure Your Chickens Stay On Your Property
This should be obvious, but it often isn’t. Chickens aren’t escape artists, but they can jump (or fly) and they do like to explore the world around them as any other creature might. Unfortunately, this means that if you allow them to – soon, your chickens will be all over the neighborhood.
This is fine, in some places because the neighbors enjoy having chickens around but if you know that your neighbors aren’t happy about your chickens already, why would you want to give them another opportunity to complain and give you a hard time about them?
You will also find that if you can properly take care of your pets in your space – they won’t go and destroy other people’s gardens (chickens have no concept of ownership and tasty fresh food is tasty fresh food) and they won’t poop all over the place (which is particularly unpleasant for people with small children).
You’ll also keep them safer from cats and dogs in your neighborhood. Chickens don’t mix well with these pets and if you allow them to wander about willy-nilly, sooner or later they’re going to start becoming snack food for these carnivorous animals and you can’t complain about that, they’re just doing what comes naturally.
Keep An Eye Out For Vermin
Unfortunately, wherever there are chickens, there is food and wherever there is food, there is competition for it. The big issue with chickens in urban and rural settings is that they can bring rodent infestations with them and let’s be fair about this – your neighbors are unlikely to be singing songs of joy because they now have a house full of rats, are they?
Make sure to keep all food that isn’t in use in fully rodent-proofed storage areas. This ought to be made out of metal – rats will eventually gnaw through plastic if given sufficient time and they have all the time in the world for this particular exercise.
If the rats turn up anyway, then you need to make sure that they regret doing so and a quiet word and a stern warning won’t cut it. You need to exterminate them. If not, they will spread disease, consume all the chicken feed and eggs, and even potentially kill any young birds that you have.
Poison needs to be chosen carefully too or it’s just as likely to kill your chickens as it is to kill the rats. You may want to speak to a pest control expert before deciding on a course of action.
Finally, you should keep a written record of problems like these when they arise and of what you have done about them – this might help to protect you in court if someone takes legal action.
When Roosters Are Too Noisy – Control Them
If your neighbors are close by, we’d strongly recommend considering not having roosters at all. Their cries can be very loud and while some people love them, others hate them with a passion.
If you need a rooster then you really have two strategies for making it shut up:
- The no crow collar. Just like a dog’s “no bark” collar this just applies a very mild shock to the rooster every time it tries to crow. Very quickly it learns this is no fun and shuts up.
- The blackened crate. Get a dark crate and place the rooster in it overnight, most roosters need to see light before they crow, if you remove light sources, then it might stay quiet overnight. But then again, it might not.
It can also pay dividends to check in with your neighbors if you get a new rooster and think he’s a bit noisy. If they can’t hear him, you don’t need to do anything, if they are being driven mad, they will often politely tell you when asked when they would have been reluctant to approach you about the issue.
Consider The Impact Of Predators And Take Extra Precautions
Predators are everywhere from foxes to coyotes and weasels to rats and so on. Chickens are tasty and not just to human beings but to many other predators. When you are designing your garden so that your chickens can’t escape. It’s worth making sure that predators can’t enter too.
They are often drawn, like the vermin, to the food that you’re feeding your chickens, but they stay when they discover the taste of chicken is to their liking.
If you want your neighbors to lose their mind, let a fox run loose on your hens, it will look like a Mafia massacre took place in your back yard. It’s not the sort of thing people want to see at home. So, don’t let it happen.
Share The Love: Eggs Can Soften Hearts
While there are many ways to get your neighbors to accept your chickens, the easiest method, in our opinion, is a bit of bribery. Send over the occasional dozen eggs or roast bird in order to show that your chickens aren’t destroying the neighborhood at all, in fact, they’re contributing to it.
Don’t Slaughter Or Butcher Your Chickens In Public
There are some things that you wish didn’t need to be said but you need to appreciate that even if you love raising chickens to eat and you’re not squeamish about sending them onto the next life and then chopping them up into tender chunks, there’s a good chance that someone in your neighborhood will lose their mind over this.
That means you need to find a clean, private place to take on the art of slaughter and butchery. This is also best for food hygiene purposes to be fair – so, don’t blame the neighbors for this, see it as an investment in your own health.
Explain Potential Chicken Diseases To Your Neighbors
This isn’t the nicest of jobs and it’s one that won’t necessarily warm your neighbors to your birds but you should take some time out to visit them and explain that your chickens are around, what you’ve done to stop them from getting out and then explain that chickens can carry diseases (particularly salmonella) and what they should do if they handle the birds (wash their hands).
This is the essence of being a good neighbor, showing that you care not just for your eggs in the morning but also for the people around you and it makes it easier for them to like you and to tolerate your chickens because they like you.
Take Precautions If Your Neighbors Won’t Stop Hassling You
Mostly, the tips above will eventually win your neighbors around to your point of view. Occasionally, they won’t. That’s when you might want to think about taking action to protect your chickens from your neighbor.
Put up some security cameras and make them visible. Use a monitoring system to warn you if there are intruders near your chickens. Set an alarm on the coop door so you can tell if someone interferes with it.
In short, show people that you care about your chickens so that they back off and leave you in peace.
So, they you have it, 10 brilliant ways to hide chickens from your neighbors. Of course, the ideal way to bring chickens into your neighborhood is to get the consent of your neighbors because this will make life better for everyone involved. However, unless they have the legal right to stop you from raising chickens – your next best bet is simply to disguise their presence as much as you can.
Chickens are super pets and the eggs (and meat if you’re that way inclined) that they can produce are a brilliant addition to a healthy diet. That your neighbors don’t like chickens should not be a good reason for you to abandon your hopes of having chickens of your own. Be considerate but be firm, it’s your life.