Reader question: We would like to keep hens in our garden. Are there any particular rules governing this in France? J.L.
Rules on the right to keep hens can vary depending on local bylaws so first check with your mairie if this is allowed.
It is usually allowed in more rural areas but not necessarily in towns and on housing estates. In some areas there may not be an outright ban but, for example, specific rules on how many hens you can keep.
As a maximum, you cannot keep more than 50 as an ‘amateur’, though we would presume that this is not your plan.
Note also that you cannot sell eggs unless you have an agricultural business.
Otherwise, depending on the size of the henhouse you plan to install, it could fall under the planning rules.
Nothing is needed if it is less than 5m2 but above that you need to make a déclaration préalable de travaux prior declaration to the mairie. Permission is given tacitly if there is no opposition within a month (two months in certain protected areas).
You should also consider any noise and smell aspects to avoid nuisance complaints from neighbours. Keep the henhouse clean and avoid having hens too close to other properties and, of course, you will need to construct an enclosure to avoid the hens wandering out of your property.
You should also take care to have humane conditions and an appropriate number of birds for the space so as not to infringe animal welfare rules. In the event of a bird flu outbreak, you must comply with government recommendations.