Publication - Advice and guidance

Welfare of laying hens: code of practice

Published: 23 Apr 2012
Directorate:
Agriculture and Rural Delivery Directorate
Part of:
Farming and rural
ISBN:
9781780457536

The code aims to help those responsible for laying hens to look after them properly.

35 page PDF

408.4 kB

35 page PDF

408.4 kB

Contents
Welfare of laying hens: code of practice
Preface

35 page PDF

408.4 kB

Preface

This preface is not part of the Code but is intended to explain its purpose and to indicate the broad considerations upon which it is based. Similarly, the legislation quoted in boxes throughout the document is not part of the Code but is intended to highlight some of the legal requirements. The law, as quoted in these boxes, is that in force either on the date of publication or reprinting of the Code (please turn to the back cover for this information). Readers should be aware that any of the legal requirements quoted might be subject to change - they should seek confirmation before assuming that these are an accurate statement of the law currently in force.

Regulation 7 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) provides that:

A person responsible for a farmed animal must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person employed or engaged by the person responsible does not attend to that animal unless that employed or engaged person:

  • is acquainted with any relevant animal welfare codes relating to the animals being attended to 
  • has access to a copy of those codes while that person is attending to the animals
  • has received instruction and guidance on those codes

A person responsible for a farmed animal must not attend to that animal unless that person is acquainted with any relevant animal welfare code and has access to that code while attending to that animal.

In Regulation 2 it states that "animal welfare code" means a code of practice issued under section 37 of the Animal Health and Welfare Scotland) Act 2006.

To cause or permit unnecessary suffering is an offence under Section 19 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. The breach of a code provision, whilst not an offence in itself, can nevertheless be used in evidence as tending to establish the guilt of anyone accused of an offence under the Act (Section 37(9)).

Regulation 5(1) of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) states that a person responsible for a farmed animal must ensure that the conditions under which that animal is bred or kept comply with the requirements set out in Schedule 1.

Regulation 5(2) of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) states that:

In relation to the duty in paragraph (1), a person responsible for a farmed animal must have regard to its species; degree of development; adaptation and domestication, and physiological and ethological needs in accordance with established experience and scientific knowledge.

Regulation 8 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) states that:

Where an inspector considers that a farmed animal is being kept in contravention of any provision of these Regulations, the inspector may serve a notice on the person who in the opinion of the Inspector is responsible for that animal requiring that person, within the period stated in the notice to take any action that the inspector considers to be reasonably necessary to ensure compliance with these Regulations and the Inspector shall give reasons for requiring that action to be taken.

Regulation 11 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) states that:

A person responsible for animals who without lawful authority or reasonable excuse contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of the Regulations or fails to comply with a notice served under Regulation 8 within the time specified in the notice is guilty of an offence.

The Code is intended to encourage all those who care for farm animals to adopt the highest standards of husbandry. Without good stockmanship, animal welfare can never be adequately protected. Adherence to these recommendations will help flock-keepers to reach the required standard.

The welfare of laying hens is considered within a framework, elaborated by the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, and known as the 'Five Freedoms'. These form a logical basis for the assessment of welfare within any system together with the actions necessary to safeguard welfare within the constraints of an efficient livestock industry.

The Five Freedoms are based on an animal's needs as follows:

  • its need for a suitable environment - by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  • its need for a suitable diet - by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
  • its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns - by providing sufficient space and proper facilities
  • any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals - by providing company of the animals' own kind, if appropriate
  • its need to be protected from suffering, injury and disease - by ensuring conditions and treatment to avoid suffering, including mental suffering

In acknowledging these freedoms, those who have care of livestock should practise:

  • caring and responsible planning and management
  • skilled, knowledgeable and conscientious stockmanship
  • appropriate environmental design ( e.g. of the husbandry system)
  • considerate handling and transport
  • humane slaughter

Part 2 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 contains the general law relating to animal welfare. Broadly it is an offence (under section 19 of the Act) to cause or permit suffering to any domestic or captive animal by anything that is done or omitted to be done, and an offence (under section 24) to fail to take steps to ensure that the needs of an animal are met.

Section 32 of the Act empowers an inspector or a police constable to take possession of an animal which is considered to be suffering or in danger of suffering. Section 34 gives the courts the power to make a disposal order for seized animals which can allow these animals to be sold, destroyed or disposed of in another manner. The reasonable costs involved, including veterinary treatment can be recovered from any proceeds from the sale of the animal. A disposal order can be made before a charge under the Act has been brought.

Under section 40 of the Act a court has the power to disqualify a person convicted under the Act from owning, keeping, dealing in, transporting, taking possession or taking charge of animals. The ban can specify a particular kind of animal or all animals for such a period as the court thinks fit.

This Code applies in Scotland only and has been issued by the Scottish Ministers (following approval by the Scottish Parliament). It replaces (also as regards Scotland only) that part of the existing Domestic Fowls Code (issued in 1987), relating to the welfare of laying hens.
Similar codes have been produced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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