Chickens for Meat & Breeding (England): Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock (PB7275)

Feed and Water

Schedule 1, paragraphs 22-27 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000 No. 1870), state that:

- Animals shall be fed a wholesome diet which is appropriate to their age and species and which is fed to them in sufficient quantity to maintain them in good health, to satisfy their nutritional needs and to promote a positive state of well-being.

- No animals shall be provided with food or liquid in a manner, nor shall such food or liquid contain any substance, which may cause them unnecessary suffering or injury.

- All animals shall have access to feed at intervals appropriate to their physiological needs (and, in any case, at least once a day) except where a veterinary surgeon acting in the exercise of his profession otherwise directs.

- All animals shall either have access to a suitable water supply and be provided with an adequate supply of fresh drinking water each day or be able to satisfy their fluid intake needs by other means.

- Feeding and watering equipment shall be designed, constructed, placed and maintained so that contamination of food and water and the harmful effects of competition between animals are minimised.

- No other substance, with the exception of those given for therapeutic or prophylactic purposes or for the purpose of zootechnical treatment shall be administered to animals unless it has been demonstrated by scientific studies of animal welfare or established experience that the effect of that substance is not detrimental to the health or welfare of the animals.



All birds should have daily access to feed. When introducing birds to a new environment, the flock-keeper should ensure that the birds can find feed and water.


To prevent birds having access to stale or contaminated feed or water these should be replaced on a regular basis. Provision must be made for supplying water in freezing conditions.


In intensively housed systems, the maximum distance which any bird should have to travel in a house to reach feed and water should not be more than 4 metres. However, in some situations, such as some outdoor production systems, it may be necessary for the birds to travel more than 4 metres; in these situations, all birds must be adequately cared for in terms of stocking density, feeding and drinking space to allow for such movements.


Sudden changes in the type, quantity and make-up of feed should be avoided. Any changes in diet should be introduced gradually.


Compounded feeds which have been prepared for other species should be avoided as certain substances can be toxic to birds.


For meat chickens, feed should not be withheld for more than 12 hours before the birds are slaughtered or delivered to a new farm. This period of 12 hours must be an inclusive period to include the catching, loading, transport lairaging and unloading time prior to slaughter. Prior to transport, water should be provided up to the start of the loading procedure (see paragraph 88 for specific provisions for breeding chickens.)


Water meters should be fitted to each house to enable daily monitoring of water usage. Daily records of water consumption provide an early warning of potential problems and a water meter is a necessary management tool.


Daily access to water throughout the period of lighting and a sufficient number of drinkers, well distributed and correctly adjusted, should be provided.

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