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

5. Housing


Stocking rates

  1. Irrespective of the type of enclosure or system of management used, all domestic fowls should have sufficient freedom of movement to be able, without difficulty, to stand normally, turn round and stretch their wings. They should also have sufficient space to be able to perch or sit down without interference from other birds.
  2. It cannot be too strongly emphasised that birds kept under any system can be prone to stress, injury and disease if management and husbandry levels are not of a high standard. Within the present limits of scientific knowledge it is not possible to relate stocking rate to welfare in any simple manner. Stocking rate is only one aspect of a complex situation involving such things as breed, strain and type of bird, colony size, temperature, ventilation, lighting and quality of housing. The observation of any particular rate cannot, by itself, ensure the welfare of the birds.
  3. The following figures are a guide to the maximum stocking rates acceptable in most circumstances for domestic fowl husbandry systems in current use (see note 6). Apart from caged systems, these rates may be safely increased where suitable perching is provided. A perch of not less than 15 cm is generally appropriate for a bird but, even where such perching is provided for every bird, stocking should not be at more than 25 birds per square metre of available floor space.

SYSTEM

DENSITY
(liveweight in relation to floor area)

QUALIFICATIONS

Cages


Birds being reared for laying


250 cm2/kg


For birds between 1 and 2 kg liveweight

Adult laying birds

These will be subject to legal minimum requirements with effect from 1.1.1988

 

Deep Litter


Birds being reared for laying


17 kg/m2

 

Adult laying birds

17 kg/m2

No more than 7 birds/m2

Table Chickens

34 kg/m2

 

Straw yards


Birds being reared for laying


10 kg/m2

 

Adult laying birds

8 kg/m2

No more than 3 birds/m2

Housing for free range birds

As for Deep Litter systems

 

  1. If disease, particularly respiratory, or any vice becomes evident, by observation or by receipt of unsatisfactory grading returns from egg packing stations or by rejections from processing plants, expert qualified advice should be sought to deal with the problem. Stocking and ventilation rates should also be checked and variations in stocking and ventilation should be considered in order to minimise the likelihood of recurrence of the problem.


Notes:

  1. For labelling purposes only, Commission Regulations (EEC) no. 1943/85 (OJ No. L 181 of 13.7.85) requires that poultry enterprises must comply with the following criteria in order to mark their small egg packs with the terms shown:

(a) Free-Range Eggs

  • Hens to have continuous daytime access to open-air runs.
  • The ground to which hens have access is mainly covered with vegetation.
  • The maximum stocking density is not greater than 1000 hens per hectare of ground available to the hens or one hen per 10 m2.
  • The interior of the building must satisfy the conditions at (c) or (d).

(b) Semi-intensive Eggs

  • Hens to have continuous daytime access to open-air runs.
  • The ground to which hens have access is mainly covered with vegetation.
  • The maximum stocking density is not greater than 4000 hens per hectare of ground available to the hens or one hen per 2.5 m2.
  • The interior of the building must satisfy the conditions at (c) or (d).

(c) Deep-litter Eggs

  • The maximum stocking density is not greater than seven hens per square metre of floor space available to the hens.
  • At least a third of this floor area is covered with a litter material such as straw, wood shavings, sand or turf.
  • A sufficiently large part of the floor area available to the hens is used for collection of bird droppings.

(d) Perchery Eggs (Barn eggs)

  • The maximum stocking density is not greater than 25 hens per square metre of floor space available to the hens.
  • The interior of the building is fitted with perches of a length sufficient to ensure at least 15 cm of perch space for each hen.
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