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

Automatic or mechanical equipment

Schedule 1, paragraphs 18 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000 No. 1870) states that:

- All automated or mechanical equipment essential for the health and well being of the animals shall be inspected at least once a day to check that there is no defect in it.

Schedule 1, paragraph 19 states that:

- Where defects in automated or mechanical equipment of the type referred to in paragraph 18 of Schedule 1 are discovered, these shall be rectified immediately, or if this is impossible, appropriate steps shall be taken to safeguard the health and well-being of the animals pending the rectification of such defects, including the use of alternative methods of feeding and watering and methods of providing and maintaining a satisfactory environment.

On artificial ventilation systems, Schedule 1, paragraph 20 states that where the health and well-being of the animals is dependent on such a system:

(a) provision shall be made for an appropriate back-up system to guarantee sufficient air renewal to preserve the health and well-being of the animals in the event of the failure of the system; and

(b) an alarm system (which will operate even if the principal electricity supply to it has failed) shall be provided to give warning of any failure of the system.


Schedule 1, paragraph 21 states that:

- The back-up system referred to in paragraph (20a) of Schedule 1 shall be thoroughly inspected and the alarm system referred to in paragraph (20b) of Schedule 1 shall each be tested at least once every seven days in order to check that there is no defect in the system and, if any defect is found (whether when the system is inspected or tested in accordance with this paragraph or at any other time), it shall be rectified immediately.



Prior to installing more complex or elaborate equipment than previously used, consideration should be given to the question of animal welfare. In general the greater the restriction imposed on the bird and the greater the complexity of the system or degree of control which is exercised over temperature, air flow or food supply, the less the bird is able to use its instinctive behaviour to modify the effect of unfavourable conditions and the greater the chance of suffering if mechanical or electrical failures occur. Thus systems involving a high degree of control over the environment should only be installed where conscientious staff skilled in both poultry husbandry and the use of the equipment will always be available.


All equipment and services including feed hoppers, drinkers, ventilating fans, heating and lighting units, fire extinguishers and alarm systems should be cleaned and inspected regularly and kept in good working order. All automated equipment, upon which the birds' welfare is dependent, must incorporate a failsafe and/or standby device and, on automated ventilation systems, an alarm system to warn the flock-keeper of failure. Defects should be rectified immediately or other measures taken to safeguard the health and welfare of the birds. Alternative ways of feeding and of maintaining a satisfactory environment should therefore be ready for use.


All electrical installations at mains voltage should be inaccessible to the birds and properly earthed.

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