This guide provides advice on the legislation and codes of practice designed to protect animal welfare on farms, in transport, at markets and at slaughter.
On-farm animal welfare
Specific guides on animal welfare issues are available for the following:
- Poultry farming: welfare regulations
- Laying hens: welfare regulations
- Broiler chickens and breeder chickens: welfare regulations
- Pig farming: welfare regulations
- Sheep and goats: welfare regulations
- Beef cattle and dairy cows: welfare regulations
- Deer farming: health and welfare
- Poultry welfare off the farm
- Live transport: welfare regulations
- Livestock at farm shows and markets: welfare regulations
- Slaughter of livestock: welfare regulations
- Animal welfare in severe weather
- Animal welfare legislation: protecting pets
The code of practice for the welfare of gamebirds was approved by Parliament and came into force in January 2011. The code provides game farmers with information on how to meet the welfare needs of their animals, as required under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. It can also be used in courts as evidence in cases brought before them relating to poor welfare of gamebirds.
In addition to the general requirements of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 we are working towards further improvements in fish welfare by other means.
The Council of Europe’s Standing Committee on the welfare of animals kept for farming purposes adopted a recommendation on fish in December 2005. Defra’s research and development programme includes projects on certain aspects of fish welfare. We will use the findings to support our objective to ensure high standards of fish welfare.
Ducks and geese
The welfare of ducks and geese is protected by the general requirements of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. There is also a Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Ducks, which continues to apply under the new Animal Welfare Act.
The welfare of rabbits is protected by the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. Schedule 9 of these regulations contains specific conditions that apply to the keeping of rabbits. There is also a Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Rabbits, which continues to apply under the new Animal Welfare Act.
As there is no longer an industry body for commercial rabbit keepers, we would welcome commercial farmers contacting us via: firstname.lastname@example.org to give their details for future consultation.
The welfare of turkeys are protected by the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. There is also a Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Turkeys which continues to apply under the new Animal Welfare Act.
Ratites (emu, ostrich, rhea)
The farming of emu, ostrich and rhea (ratites) caters for a niche market in the UK. The welfare of ratites are protected by the general requirements in the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. There are also Council of Europe recommendations on the welfare of farmed ratites which offer guidance on the standards that should apply.
The existing Codes of Recommendations for the welfare of livestock continue to apply, however, with the introduction of the Act and the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007, the references to the legislation throughout the code are now out of date. Whilst the vast majority of the 2000 regulations are replicated by the 2007 regulations, you should check the legislation as it currently stands.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes owners and keepers responsible for ensuring that the welfare needs of their animals are met. These include the need:
- for a suitable environment (place to live)
- for a suitable diet
- to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
- to be housed with, or apart from, other animals (if applicable)
- to be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease
Anyone who is cruel to an animal, or does not provide for its welfare needs, may be banned from owning animals, fined up to £20,000 and/or sent to prison.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 contains the general laws relating to animal welfare. It is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. Unlike previous legislation, the Act applies to all animals on common land. The Act contains a Duty of Care to animals - this means that anyone responsible for an animal must take reasonable steps to make sure the animal’s needs are met. This means that a person has to look after an animal’s welfare as well as ensure that it does not suffer and apply to all animals.
The welfare of farmed animals is additionally protected by The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 (as amended), which are made under the Animal Welfare Act.
The welfare of all farmed animals is protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. The Act also contains a duty of care to animals - anyone responsible for an animal must take reasonable steps to make sure the animal’s welfare needs are met.
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 set minimum standards for all farm animals. These regulations replaced the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 on 1st October 2007. The new regulations are made under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and are very similar to the previous regulations.
The Welfare of Animals at Markets Order 1990 (WAMO) contains rules covering the treatment of animals in markets to ensure they are not caused injury or unnecessary suffering. They also set out detailed arrangements in respect of penning, food and water and the care of young animals. Responsibility for enforcing WAMO rests with local councils.
The welfare of farmed animals is additionally protected by the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 as amended (S.I. 2007 No.2078), which are made under the Animal Welfare Act.
- Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007
- Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2010
These regulations continue to implement EU directives on the welfare of calves, pigs, laying hens, conventionally reared meat chickens and a general welfare framework directive, which sets down minimum standards for the protection of all farmed livestock.
The regulations cover all farmed animals. Schedule 1 (which does not apply to fish, reptiles or amphibians) contains specific requirements such as inspections, record keeping, freedom of movement, buildings and equipment and the feeding and watering of animals. Some species, however, are subject to additional provisions, which are set out in Schedules 2-9.
Guidance has been prepared to accompany the regulations and includes information on the application of the legislation to common land. Interim guidance whilst the relevant code of recommendations if under review, is available on the rules on conventionally reared meat chicken.
Similar legislation exists in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For further information on animal welfare legislation in these areas please contact the Defra helpline and ask for the On-farm Animal Welfare Team on 08459 33 55 77.
EU minimum welfare standards are already in place for farmed animals, laying hens, calves and pigs.
- Calves - Council Directive 97/2/EC amending Directive 91/629/EEC laying down minimum standards for the protection of calves
- Calves - Commission Decision 97/182/EC amending the Annex to Directive 91/629/EEC laying down minimum standards for the protection of calves
- Pigs - Council Directive 2001/88/EC amending Directive 91/630/EEC laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs
- Pigs - Council Directive 2001/93/EC amending Directive 91/630/EEC laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs
The Treaty of Amsterdam in June 1997 contains a legally binding protocol recognising that animals are sentient beings and requires full regard to be paid to their welfare when policies relating to agriculture, transport, research and the internal market are formulated or implemented.
European conventions on animal welfare
The Council of Europe (CoE) has 5 conventions covering animal welfare including one on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes.
The underlying principle of the convention, and its recommendations on the welfare of individual species of livestock, is to set out the conditions necessary to avoid any unnecessary suffering or injury and to take account of physiological and behavioural needs. Current Council of Europe recommendations are listed below.
- Domestic Ducks
- Domestic Fowl
- Domestic Geese
- Fur Animals
- Muscovy Ducks
Animal welfare during transport
The welfare of animals during transport is protected by EU legislation.
Introduction to the regulations
“No person shall transport animals or cause animals to be transported in a way that is likely to cause injury or undue suffering to them” (Source: Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations and amending directives).
All persons who take animals on a journey, whatever the length, should always apply good transport practice, making sure:
- the journey is properly planned and time is kept to a minimum and the animals are checked and their needs met during the journey
- the animals are fit to travel
- the vehicle and loading and unloading facilities are designed, constructed and maintained to avoid injury and suffering
- those handling animals are trained or competent in the task and do not use violence or any methods likely to cause unnecessary fear, injury or suffering
- water, feed and rest are given to the animals as needed, and sufficient floor space and height is allowed
Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations applies to all those involved with the transport of live vertebrate animals in connection with an economic activity ie a business or trade. This includes amongst others:
- livestock and equine hauliers
- commercial pet breeders
The regulation also applies to those working at:
- assembly centres
The regulation does not apply to the transport of animals where this is not in connection with economy activity. These journeys can be broadly described as those which are:
- not in the course of business or trade;
- not for hire or reward.
The regulation is implemented in England by The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006, and by parallel legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations sets out minimum standards for the welfare of animals during transport. The regulation applies to the transport of all live vertebrate animals for the purposes of economic activity ie a business or trade and is implemented in England by The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 and by parallel legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006
- Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations (PDF)
Regulation 1/2005 requires those transporting animals in connection with an economic activity ie a business or trade, to be in possession of a transporter authorisation and, where appropriate, a certificate of vehicle approval.
These documents have a maximum lifecycle of 5 years.
Further information on the renewal processes for both documents can be found below.
The publications on this page aim to supplement the legislation by clarifying some of the requirements and also by setting down the best practice to be observed.
- Welfare of animals during Transport - This guidance document details the various aspects of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 that have to be met.
- Road Vehicle (and Container) Certification in the UK - The scheme document sets down how vehicle inspection and approval will be carried out in the United Kingdom.
Satellite Tracking guidance - This guidance document sets out information regarding the basic functionality of a satellite tracking system as set out in Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005.
- Welfare of animals during transport - General leaflet providing basic advice for farmers, hauliers and transporters of horses, farm livestock, poultry and game birds
- Livestock transport vehicles - A guide to best practice for vehicle ventilation
Advice for transporters on the transport of:
Primary responsibility for enforcement of welfare during transport legislation rests with local councils. Their trading standards officials carry out welfare checks on animals and means of transport and take appropriate enforcement action up to and including prosecution. The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) carries out enforcement checks at markets, ports, roadside and at supervised loadings of export consignments. They enforce compliance with journey times through checks of journey documentation.
If you have any reason for concern about the treatment of an animal during transport please bring it to the attention of the local council (normally the trading standards department) or AHVLA at your nearest Animal Health Office.
Review of Regulation 1/2005
The regulation includes a provision for a review of its impact to be carried out within 4 years of it coming into force ie January 2011. The European Commission’s report on its review of the regulation was published on 10 November 2011. The report and accompanying documentation can be found on the Commission’s website.
The report was purely factual and did not contain any proposals for legislative change. It concluded that the regulation has had a beneficial impact on the welfare of animals during transport, however, it also acknowledges that ‘severe animal welfare problems during transport persist’. The Commission’s proposed solution to these problems involves adopting new implementing rules concerning satellite tracking systems; an increase in the number of inspections (where needed) to improve existing controls; better reporting on compliance by Member States; a study into the welfare of fish during transport; increased co-operation and communication between the competent authorities and NGOs, and, most crucially, the dissemination of Commission guidance on the interpretation of the regulation and development of guides to good practice, which would help implement the latest scientific findings identified by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in its own report issued in December 2010.
Animals travelling by air
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sets out the requirements for transporting animals by air. Information on air transport and container requirements can be found on the IATA website. Information on container requirements can be found under the IATA website on live animal regulations.
Vehicle inspection and approval scheme
Road vehicles and containers used for transporting animals on long journeys (those in excess of eight hours) must be inspected and approved by the competent authority of an EU Member State or a body designated by a Member State.
- Road Vehicle (and Container) Certification in the UK - The scheme document sets down how inspection and approval will be carried out in the UK.
As the competent authority in England, Defra has designated the following certifying bodies to carry out inspections and provide certification in accordance with the scheme:
Freight Transport Association
St John’s Road
Tel: 01892 552235
SAI Global Assurance Services Ltd
PO Box 6236
Telephone number - 01908 249973
Fax number - 01908 249965
Hanborough Business Park
Tel: 01993 885610
As the competent authority in Scotland, the Scottish Government has designated the following as a certifying body:
Scottish Food Quality Certification
Royal Highland Centre
Tel: 0131 335 6600
Please contact the certifying bodies directly for information on how to get a vehicle or container approved.
Whilst the Inspection and Approval Scheme is UK-wide, for practical reasons alone, we would suggest contacting an approved body only in the country you (or your company/partnership) is registered or one that is a reasonable distance from you.
Satellite navigation (tracking) systems
Annex I, Chapter VI, paragraph 4.1 of Regulation 1/2005 requires that vehicles undertaking journeys over eight hours transporting cattle, sheep, pigs, goats or unregistered domestic equidae must be equipped with a satellite navigation (ie tracking) system. As permitted by the regulation, the UK has derogated from this requirement for vehicles undertaking journeys within the UK which do not exceed 12 hours in order to reach their final destination. The European Commission has yet to approve a harmonised system.
Our guidance note on satellite tracking systems contains information regarding the basic functionality of a satellite tracking system as set down in Regulation 1/2005 as well as indications of possible future requirements of a European Commission approved system. Designated vehicle approval certifying bodies can advise on how and where to obtain suitable equipment.
Transporters and handlers of vertebrate animals and market and assembly centre staff handling animals, are required to undertake training in the relevant technical provisions of Regulation 1/2005.
For transporters this covers:
- fitness for travel
- the means of transport
- use of its facilities
- loading, unloading and handling
- watering and feeding intervals, journey times and rest periods
- space allowances
For market and assembly centre staff:
The precise format and who may provide training is not specified in the regulation. Therefore, our consideration is that training may be achieved by means of on-the-job instruction combined with practical experience or by more formal methods such as college courses leading to standards equivalent to qualifications accredited into the National Qualifications Framework.
Those transporting and handling domestic species of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, domestic equidae and poultry by road on journeys over 65km in connection with an economic activity must be independently assessed in their competence. Those assessed as competent will receive a certificate of competence. The certificate will be specific to the role the transporter or attendant is charged with, the length of journeys to be undertaken and the species to be transported.
- assessment of those involved in journeys over 65km and up to eight hours may be made by means of a theory test
- assessments of those involved in journeys over eight hours must also include practical assessment of their competence including animal handling, and if required, driving skills
Further information of this element of the regulation can be found in chapter 4 of the main guidance document.
As the competent authority in England, Defra has designated the following independent bodies to undertake assessments for competence and award competence certificates.
City & Guilds and Lantra Awards are designated to assess for competence and award competence certificates to transport: cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, equines and poultry (including game birds).
The British Driving Society
Mrs. T Styles, Executive Secretary
83 New Road
Tel: 01473 892 001
Fax: 01473 892 005
British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust
Suite 16, Unit 8, Kings Court
Willie Snaith Road
Tel: 016 3856 0743
Fax: 016 3866 0932
BDS and BHEST are designated to assess for competence and award competence certificates to transport equines only.
As the competent authority in Scotland, SEERAD has designated NPTC via the Scottish Skills Testing Service to undertake assessments for competence and award competence certificates.
Scottish Skills Testing Service
Lothian Machinery Ring Ltd
Tel: 0131 339 8739
Fax: 0131 317 8148
Scottish Skills Testing Service are designated undertake assessments for competence and award competence certificates to transport: cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, equines and poultry (including game birds).
In addition, it has been agreed that Scottish Food Quality Certification (SFQC) will act as a service provider for those seeking assistance in obtaining a certificate of competence. SFQC’s contact details are: Tel: 0131 335 6641, fax: 0131 335 6601, email: email@example.com
Competent authority designations allow the relevant bodies to operate throughout the UK.
Under animal welfare during transport legislation those that transport animals over 65km in connection with an economic activity are required to hold a transporter authorisation.
Those who obtained transporter authorisations in the early days of the legislation will find the five year validity period of the authorisations will begin to expire in late 2011. In order to ensure continuity, holders are advised to re-apply before their existing transporter authorisations expire. Holders of both Type 1 (over 65km and up to eight hours) and Type 2 (over eight hours) transporter authorisations will need to re-apply.
It is important that holders of Type 2 authorisations ensure that their vehicles are re-approved before they apply for renewal of their authorisations as applications for renewal will not be accepted with submission of a valid certificate of vehicle approval. See vehicle approval for further information.
Type 2 renewal applications must also include valid certificates of competence, and if not already submitted, details of contingency planning.
Further information and advice can be obtained from AHVLA’s Welfare in Transport helpline on 0845 603 8395 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you transport animals in connection with an economic activity over 65 km (approx 40 miles) you must have a valid transporter authorisation. The application forms and guidance notes are below:
- - Welsh version
- WIT1 - Authorisation application form for journeys over 65km and up to 8 hours
- - Welsh version
- WIT2 - Authorisation application form for journeys of any length including those over 8 hours
- - Welsh version
Applicants for transporter authorisations are required to declare any Home Office Simple Cautions or convictions under legislation on the protection of animals (as listed in the Guidance Notes) that they or anyone transporting animals under the authority of their Authorisation have, or any current Court Orders restricting them from ownership, keeping or being in control of any animals. Anyone who has been convicted or given a Home Office Simple Caution under such legislation, in the three years prior to their application, will generally be refused an Authorisation.
Further information on the action that will be taken if it is discovered that a person granted an authorisation had failed to disclose such information on their application is available.
Transporters applying for a UK long journey (Type 2) Transporter authorisation for journeys of any length including those over 8 hours will, where required, have to submit additional information along with their application form.
Those that transport cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, horses and ponies need to submit:
- Copies of valid competence assessment certificates
- Copies of valid vehicle approval certificates.
Those that transport poultry need to submit:
- Copies of valid competence assessment certificates
- Copies of valid vehicle approval certificates only if required by the Member State of intended destination, and transiting Member States.
Those that transport other species outside of those listed above need to submit:
- Copies of valid vehicle approval certificates only if required by the Member State of intended destination, and transiting Member States.
Copies of certificates will not be returned.
Anyone exporting farm livestock or unregistered horses is required to complete a Journey Log (WIT 7). This will need to be approved by the Specialist Service Centre for Exports in Carlisle.
Dual language versions of the journey log form are available in English-French, English-German, English-Italian, English-Spanish and English-Dutch. These have been produced to aid statutory completion and return of journey logs by transporters where the drivers are not from the United Kingdom.
Also available are versions of the journey log in which only section 3 has been translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish, which can be used if the drivers are English but the keeper at the destination premises does not read English.
These forms can be mixed and matched if needed, provided all five sections of the Journey Log are present.
Because some journeys involve a number of rests and transfer points, extension sheets to sections 1 and 4 of the journey log are available and should be used to help record the full journey. If using the extension sheets, these should include the journey log reference number and be returned to the Specialist Service Centre for Exports in Carlisle, along with your completed journey log.
Animal Transport Certificates
These are required for journeys of any species of animals over any distance or duration EXCEPT journeys involving farm livestock and unregistered horses on export journeys over 8 hours which require a Journey Log instead.
The Animal Transport Certificate is required to inform the following: origin and ownership of animals; place of departure and destination; date and time of departure and expected duration of journey. Farmers transporting their own animals in their own means of transport on journeys of up to 50km from their holding are exempt from this requirement.
We refer to the provision of this information as an Animal Transport Certificate (ATC). This is not a new requirement and as previously there is no prescribed format for the information required to be presented. Any other document containing the required information - such as an Animal Movement Licence - may be used, if preferred. For convenience, we have produced an ATC template.
Holders of Type 2 (long journey) authorisations must have in place contingency plans to deal with emergencies that can arise during a journey such as animals falling ill or injured, unforeseen delays, breakdowns or accidents. The Regulation requires transporters to document their contingency plans in case of emergencies and to make these available to the competent authority on request. All new applications for Type 2 transporter authorisations will need to be accompanied by generic contingency plan information provided on form WIT27.
Journey organisers are required to submit a contingency plan with each new application for a journey log. This will not be required for repeat journeys. In the case of multiple pick-ups/drop-offs only one contingency plan is required per journey to cover the whole journey. In instances where loads are split, for example at a control post before onward travel to the destination on separate vehicles, only one contingency plan is required but separate instructions may be needed following the consignment being split.
A third template has been created to facilitate submission of contingency plans for use by transporters who are transporting animals on journeys of over eight hours where an Animal Transport Certificate (or equivalent documentation) is required and not a journey log.
Further information on contingency plans can be obtained from AHVLA’s WIT team on 0845 603 8395 or mailto:email@example.com.
- Protecting the welfare of pet dogs and cats during journeys - Advice for owners
- Animal Welfare Act 2006 - It’s your duty to care
- Farm Fires - Protecting farm animal welfare
- EU Commission Farm Animal Welfare pages
- Protecting pets from cruelty
- Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) - FAWC is an independent advisory body which publishes its advice on various aspects of farm animal welfare to inform the government and the wider public on welfare issues.
- Animal Welfare Science and Research projects - In order to maintain and, where appropriate, improve animal welfare, Defra uses both scientific research and expert opinion to ensure that policy initiatives have a robust evidence base.