Poultry: on-farm welfare

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


Laying hens: code of recommendations for the welfare of livestock

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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.

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.

Some of the references to legislation in the welfare codes of recommendations are now out of date and instead you should reference the following as needed:

Laying hens and pullets

We’ve produced an updated draft code of practice for the welfare of laying hens and pullets. The draft code was placed in Parliament on 5 June 2018. If there are no objections from Parliament, it will come into force in August 2018.

Published 8 April 2003
Last updated 2 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added the explanatory memorandum for the draft code of practice for the welfare of laying hens and pullets.
  2. Draft code of practice for the welfare of laying hens and pullets added.
  3. Code of the practice for the welfare of meat chickens and meat breeding chickens added.
  4. Updated to reflect avian flu Prevention Zone controls in force until the end of April 2017.
  5. Added information about the new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone.
  6. Update to reflect the latest guidance on beak trimming.
  7. First published.