Domestic Fowls (England): Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock (PB0076)

1. An Introduction by Ministers

Welfare Codes are intended to encourage stock-keepers to adopt the highest standards of husbandry. It is 15 years since the Domestic Fowls Code was last issued and this new edition has been updated following advice by the independent Farm Animal Welfare Council and after consultation with a very wide range of organisations interested in the care of farm livestock.

An important development since the publication of the previous Code has been the adoption of an EC Directive on the welfare of battery hens which will provide, for the first time, a statutory minimum space allowance of 450 sq cm per bird. In view of this the present Code cannot make any recommendation on space allowances for battery hens. Nevertheless the Government believes that a European standard of about 600 sq. cm would be more appropriate in welfare terms and we will be seeking improvements when the review of the Directive, due in 1993, takes place.

The Code itself, which has the approval of Parliament, embodies the latest scientific advice and the best current husbandry practises and takes account of five basic needs: freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition; appropriate comfort and shelter; the prevention, or rapid diagnosis and treatment of, injury, disease or infestation; freedom from fear, and freedom to display most normal patterns of behaviour. In particular the Code mentions the need for technical and managerial skills where specialist buildings and complex mechanical and electrical equipment exists, and more emphasis is given to the importance of precautions against fire or other emergencies. More information on alternative systems such as free-range has also been included in view of the increased interest over recent years.

The preface to the Code identifies good stockmanship as a key factor in farm animal welfare. We are convinced that this Code is an essential tool for every stockman. We therefore ask you, and all involved with domestic fowls on your farm, to read it carefully and to bear its recommendations in mind at all times. The note on the next page explains the status of the Code in relation to the law of the land.

Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Secretary of State for Scotland.
Secretary of State for Wales.
Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968 part 1

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