Farm Animal Welfare - Summary of the Law (PB2531)

1. The Welfare of Livestock Regulations 1994 (SI 1994 No 2126)

These Regulations consolidate much of the legislation relating to the welfare of livestock on agricultural land. They contain separate Schedules concerning laying hens in battery cages, calves, pigs and other livestock. Each Schedule sets general requirements, relating to matters as prevention of injury, inspection, provision of feed, water, and provision and testing of alarms on automatic ventilation equipment. They also prohibit the electro-immobilisation of livestock except as part of a licensed scientific procedure. Other provisions of the Schedule are explained below.

The regulations require that any one involved in the care of livestock should have access to, and be aware of, the Welfare codes relating to the livestock concerned. They also require that all who look after stock on behalf of the keeper, receive instruction and guidance in the relevant Codes. It is the keeper's responsibility to ensure this is given.

Schedule 1 - Battery Hens

This Schedule implements EC Directive 86/113 which lays down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens kept in battery cages. It specifies requirements relating to cage area and construction. The minimum cage area specified for each laying hen is as follows:-

  • 1000 sq. cm where one hen is kept in the cage;
  • 750 sq. cm where two hens are kept in the cage;
  • 550 sq. cm where three hens are kept in the cage;
  • 450 sq. cm where four or more hens are kept in the cage.
Schedule 2 - Calves

This Schedule prohibts a person from keeping a calf in a single pen unless the following requirements are met:-

  • the width of the pen or stall is not less than the height of the calf at the withers;
  • the calf is free to turn round without difficulty;
  • the calf is fed a daily diet containing sufficient iron to maintain it in good health and to promote a positive state of well-being; and
  • if the calf is more than 14 days old, it has access each day to food containing sufficient digestible fibre so as not to impair the development of its rumen.

The Schedule also implements EC Directive 91/629 which lays down minimum standards for the protection of calves. For group housed calves in new or reconstructed accommodation, it specifies that a space allowance of at least 1.5 sq. m must be provided for each calf of 150 kg or more live weight. From 1 January 2004, this requirement will apply to all accommodation irrespective of the date of construction.

Schedule 3 - Pigs

This Schedule prohibits the installation of new close confinement stalls or tether systems and bans the use of such existing systems from 1st January 1999. It prohibits a person from keeping a pig in a pen or stall unless the following requirements are met:-

  • the pig must be free to turn round without difficulty at all times;
  • the area of stall or pen is not less than the square of the length of the pig; and
  • none of the sides of the stall or pen has a length which is less than seventy-five percent of the pig.

Limited exceptions, for acceptable management purposes, are set out in the Schedule.

The Schedule also implements EC Directive 91/630 which lays down minimum standards for the protection of pigs. It prohibits the use of the "sweat box" system from 1 July 1995 and, for new or reconstructed accommodation, sets minimum space allowance for weaners and rearing pigs as follows:-

  • 0.15 sq. metres for each pig where the average weight of the pigs in the group is 10 kg or less;
  • 0.20 sq. metres for each pig where the average weight of the pigs in the group is more than 10 kg but less than or equal to 20 kg;
  • 0.30sq. metres for each pig where the average weight of the pigs in the group is more than 20 kg but less than or equal to 30 kg;
  • 0.40 sq. metres for each pig where the average weight of the pigs in the group is more than 30 kg but less than or equal to 50 kg;
  • 0.55 sq. metres for each pig where the average weight of the pigs in the group is more than 50 kg but less than or equal to 85 kg;
  • 0.65 sq. metres for each pig where the average weight of the pigs in the group is more than 85 kg but less than or equal to 110 kg;
  • 1.00 sq. metres for each pig where the average weight of the pigs in the group is more than 10 kg.

From 1 January 1998, these standards will also apply to all accommodation irrespective of the date of construction.

Schedule 4 - Livestock

This Schedule lays down general provisions regarding the welfare of livestock other than battery hens, calves, pigs, bees and fish.

For intensive units, it also requires that the livestock and automatic equipment are thoroughly inspected not less than once daily by a stockkeeper (or other competent person in the case of equipment), and that appropriate measures are taken to safeguard the welfare of livestock if any problems are found. It requires that automatic ventilation systems contain an alarm system (which must be tested at least once a week) and back-up equipment which will ensure adequate ventilation in the event of a failure of the ventilation system.

The definition of an "intensive unit" is given as 'a unit which livestock are kept in such numbers or density or in such conditions or at such production levels that their health and welfare depend upon frequent human attention'.

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