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Poultry-keeping on allotments

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Our council-run allotments permit beekeeping, but disallow any other livestock.

As far as I'm aware, rabbits and hens are permitted on plots under the terms of the Allotment Act, but apparently councils must be able to impose bylaws that supersede this.

My question is, has anyone here had any experience in petitioning their allotment authority to change rules and allow poultry when it was previously prohibited?

Hens would be nice of course, but I do believe our site has a more pressing need for ducks. We have a severe slug and snail infestation, in no small part due to the council not re-letting abandoned plots or mowing the grass lanes since the beginning of the pandemic. Rotting planks of wood everywhere - snails under each one surrounded by clusters of eggs. It's currently unmanagable with pellets and traps, the cost of nematodes is prohibitive and they're likely ineffective without infecting the whole site with them.

No experience at all I’m afraid. But every sympathy for your slug and snail problems.

I’m intrigued though as to how ducks might be managed. Presumably they would have to be kept in a run rather than free-ranging (apart from any damage to crops, avian flu seems likely to mean poultry has to be kept cooped up for a longer period each winter). Wouldn’t they then only succeed in controlling the slugs in the area they were penned into? 

I'm not entirely sure but suspect the situation is variable.

Our one permits hens but not bees. Most beekeepers will be aware of the potential hazards.  Honey bees can be remarkably docile most of the time yet still react aggressively to certain triggers, and some types of thundery weather can make them very bad tempered.  Some queens just produce really nasty aggressive bees, although most keepers will quickly re-queen a colony like that. Having people in close proximity is just risky.  I kept them for a good few seasons and was happy to be close to my hives without a bee suit.  But I'd still never risk having them close to other people.

I enquired once about permission to keep bees, but after looking at all the possible sites I concluded there was no where sufficiently distanced from other plot holders to make it safe so didn't follow it up.  Also the initial response was rather discouraging. They required proof of training, which I had, plus public liability insurance, a 24/7 contact number, and were making it pretty clear it they would make it very difficult..

Given the prevalence of avian flu I suspect most councils would not see this as an appropriate time to change policy on hens and other livestock.  Worth a try, but I'd not hold out too much hope.

Thank you both.  :wave:

--- Quote from: JanG on March 27, 2022, 06:16:25 ---Wouldn’t they then only succeed in controlling the slugs in the area they were penned into? 

--- End quote ---
Indeed, the plan was to herd them around overgrown areas, pathways, plots clear of crops, and have a movable pen on the brush and paths during the growing season. They weren't to be left unsupervised during their foraging.

Admittedly, avian flu wasn't on my mind when I initially considered this and it certainly makes for inappropriate timing. But, from a place of pure desperation, I agree that it's worth a try, even if just to ease them into engaging in the future. If you saw the size of the slugs we find... no natural predators can take them on.

In our area we have a thing called an allotment network. Most of the allotments in the area put forward one or two representatives who meet monthly and discuss issues of common interest that can then be raised with a LA official called the allotments officer.  It is a forum where issues like the one being discussed here would be brought to the attention of the LA.

In theory it's a great idea.  In reality not so good.  The allotments officer is massively overworked, and also has wide ranging other responsibilities including cemeteries and other green spaces.  He's doing his best but can rarely spare much time for allotment issues. The outcome is complete stasis.  Nothing gets done because there are almost no resources and regrettably low priority.

The LA like many others is required by central government to do more and more, but for years central government has been steadily reducing the funding being allocated from Westminster.  Not surprisingly priority goes to matters like child welfare, social care, environmental health, and a very long list of other statutory duties.

Given the economic woes resulting from the pandemic, Brexit and the conflict in Ukraine I'm pessimistic that allotments will get the recognition they deserve.  This is a great pity.  The value of growing food, healthy exercise especially for many retired people, and simple companionship is easy to underestimate.


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