Poultry: on-farm welfare

Code of recommendations and guidance for laying hens, meat chickens, ducks, turkeys and other birds bred on farms.

Applies to England



The legislation covering on-farm welfare for poultry is:

The codes of practice and recommendations for the welfare of poultry provide guidance on how to comply with this legislation. It’s intended to help all those who care for poultry to practise good standards of stockmanship to safeguard poultry welfare.

You and any staff working with animals must read, understand and have access to the relevant welfare code of recommendations for any birds you look after. Welfare codes aren’t law, but if you don’t follow them it can be used as evidence in court if you’re prosecuted for causing unnecessary suffering to livestock or poultry.

As a poultry keeper you must look after poultry in ways that meet their welfare needs, making sure they don’t experience any unnecessary distress, suffering or heat stress.

You need to follow the guide to looking after farm animals. It explains your general responsibilities to farm animals and helps you follow the Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations 2007 and related laws.

Some of the references to legislation in the codes are out of date. You should refer to the animal welfare legislation listed above and relevant wider legislation as needed.

Updates to this page

Published 8 April 2003
Last updated 25 January 2024 + show all updates
  1. Created new HTML version of the code of recommendations for poultry to match the PDF version laid in parliament.

  2. Updated the getting rid of hatchery waste information in the ducks welfare recommendations guidance.

  3. Latest version of the code of practice for the welfare of laying hens and pullets added.

  4. Added the explanatory memorandum for the draft code of practice for the welfare of laying hens and pullets.

  5. Draft code of practice for the welfare of laying hens and pullets added.

  6. Code of the practice for the welfare of meat chickens and meat breeding chickens added.

  7. Updated to reflect avian flu Prevention Zone controls in force until the end of April 2017.

  8. Added information about the new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone.

  9. Update to reflect the latest guidance on beak trimming.

  10. First published.

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