Laying Hens (England): Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock (PB7274)



This code (which applies in England only) applies to laying hens kept in various production systems. For the purposes of this code flock-keeper means the owner of the birds or the person responsible for looking after them. The recommendations are relevant to laying hens in all types of husbandry system, although a different balance of welfare benefits and dis-benefits applies to birds kept in different systems. Following these recommendations will help to ensure that the welfare of the birds is safeguarded.


No person should operate or set up a laying hen unit unless the welfare of all the birds can be safeguarded. This can be achieved by ensuring that the buildings and equipment, and the skills and ability of the flock-keeper, are appropriate to  the husbandry system and the number of birds to be kept.


The relevant animal welfare legislation applies to owners as well as any person looking after the birds on their behalf, wherever the birds are located. A written contract can be of value in ensuring that all parties are clear about their responsibilities in respect of welfare. However, the obligations imposed by law will still apply.


The strain of bird selected must be suitable for the production system.

The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002 No.1646) lays down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens.

This does not apply to:
- establishments with fewer than 350 laying hens

Such establishments shall, however, continue to be subject to the relevant requirements of Directive 98/58/EC, which has been made into law in England by the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000 No.1870) as referred to in the text below.

Regulation 2 (1) of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002 No.1646) provides the following definitions:

laying hen - means a hen of the species Gallus gallus which has reached laying maturity and is kept for production of eggs not intended for hatching;

litter - means any friable material enabling the hens to satisfy their ethological needs;

nest - means a separate space for egg laying, the floor components of which may not include wire mesh that can come into contact with the birds, for an individual hen or a group of hens;

usable area - means an area, other than any nesting area, used by laying hens at least 30cm wide with a floor slope not exceeding 14%, and  with headroom of at least 45cm.

ADLib logo Content provided by the Agricultural Document Library
© University of Hertfordshire, 2011