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

Stockmanship and Staffing

Schedule 1, paragraph 1 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000 No.1870) states that:

- Animals shall be cared for by a sufficient number of staff who possess the appropriate ability, knowledge and professional competence.



It is essential that sufficient well-motivated and competent personnel are employed to carry out all necessary tasks. Staff should be well managed and supervised, fully conversant with the tasks they will be required to undertake and competent in the use of any equipment.


All flock-keepers should demonstrate full understanding of the welfare needs and basic biology of the birds and have shown that they are capable of safeguarding them under all foreseeable conditions before being given responsibility for a flock. A good flock-keeper will have a compassionate and humane attitude, will be able to anticipate and avoid many potential welfare problems, and have the ability to identify those that do occur and respond to them promptly.


Staff, including those employed by contractors, should be given appropriate training. This requires the acquisition of specific stockmanship skills which may be developed on-farm, working with an experienced person, or by following a course offered by a suitable training provider. Flock-keepers should demonstrate competence and understanding before they are given responsibility for the birds. Training should continue throughout the duration of employment, and suitable refresher courses should be undertaken regularly. Wherever possible, the training should be of a type which leads to  formal recognition of competence.


A training plan should be implemented to ensure that those working with meat or breeding chickens recognise not only normal behaviour and good health but also signs of illness or disease or impending health problems. If specialised tasks are to be performed, for example vaccination or humane culling, then specific training should be given. Alternatively, the services of a competent contractor using trained staff should be obtained.


Staff should establish a methodical routine in completing the range of tasks involved in keeping chickens. As part of this they should be particularly vigilant in checking that systems are operating properly and birds are behaving normally. This will enable flock-keepers to detect problems in their earliest stages and acquire a good understanding of the action to be taken if a problem is noticed. If the cause is not obvious, or if the flock-keepers action is not effective, immediate veterinary or technical advice should be obtained.


It is essential to ensure that enough time is available within the flock-keepers daily work routine for the birds to be properly inspected and for any remedial action to be taken. Large flocks can be managed successfully but in general the larger the size of unit, the greater the degree of skill and dedication needed to safeguard the welfare of the birds.

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