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

5. Housing


  1. Advice on welfare aspects should be sought when new buildings are to be constructed or existing buildings modified. Some intensive systems depend on specialised buildings and complex mechanical and electrical equipment, which requires a high level of technical and managerial skills to ensure that husbandry and welfare requirements are met. Weighing, handling and loading facilities should be incorporated.
  2. Ventilation, heating, lighting, feeding, watering and all other equipment should be designed, sited and installed so as to avoid risk of injuring birds.
  3. All floors, particularly slatted or metal mesh ones, and perches should be designed, fitted and maintained so as to avoid distress or injury to the birds. Remedial action should be taken if any of these occurs.
  4. Even when ladders are provided, nest boxes, roosting areas and perches should not be so high above floor level that birds have difficulty in using them or risk injury.
  5. The design and usage of some battery cages of the kind at present in use for laying hens places severe restrictions on the birds freedom to turn round without difficulty, groom themselves, get up and sit down, rest undisturbed, stretch their legs and body and perform wing-flapping and dust-bathing behaviour as well as to fulfil other health and welfare needs. Cages should be designed and maintained so as to minimise discomfort and distress and to prevent injury to the birds being caused by such restrictions.
  6. The type and arrangement of cages should allow for efficient working and for each bird to be properly inspected; birds in bottom cages are often difficult to see and should not be neglected. In addition, where cages are kept in more than three tiers adequate provision should be made for the inspection of all tiers for example by the installation of gantries or platforms (see also paragraphs 30 and 40).
  7. Cages should be of sufficient height to allow standing birds free movement of the head and neck.
  8. The fronts of rearing cages should be equipped and maintained so that birds have access to feed and water but cannot escape and fall to the floor.
  9. Droppings should not be allowed to fall in lower tiers of cages. Dropping pits below battery cages should be closed off to prevent birds gaining access.
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