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

Additional Requirements for Free Range Birds

Schedule 1, paragraph 17 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000, No.1870) states that:

- Animals not kept in buildings shall, where necessary and possible, be given protection from adverse weather conditions, predators and risks to their health and shall, at all times, have access to a well drained lying area.


You should also refer to EU Marketing Standards for Poultry meat, Commission Regulation (EEC) No 1538/91 (as amended), regarding stocking densities, feed requirements, access to the range and minimum age at slaughter.



Land on which range birds are kept for prolonged periods may become fowl sick, i.e. contaminated with organisms which cause or carry disease to an extent which could seriously prejudice the health of the birds on the land. Land should be frequently monitored for worm burden. The time taken for land to become fowl sick depends on the type of land and stocking density. Appropriate measures should be taken to prevent fowl sickness or to provide a new ranging area by moving the housing (in the case of portable units) or to rotating the ranging area outside fixed buildings.


Sufficient housing should be available to the birds at all times and it may be necessary to exclude birds from the range in bad weather if there is a clear danger that their welfare will be compromised.


Birds should be encouraged to use the outdoor area by provision of adequate suitable, properly managed vegetation ,a fresh supply of water and overhead cover, all sufficiently far from the house to encourage the birds to range.


Factors such as soil type, drainage and size of colony and frequency of flock rotation are very important in deciding the number of birds that a particular area can carry. Heavy, poorly drained soil can carry fewer birds than land which is light and well drained.

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