Welfare of laying hens: code of practice

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


Automatic or mechanical equipment

Schedule 1, paragraph 18 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) states that:

All automated or mechanical equipment essential for the health and well-being of the animals must be inspected at least once a day to check that there is no defect in it.

Schedule 1, paragraph 19 states that:

Where any defect in automated or mechanical equipment of the type specified in paragraph 18 is discovered, it must be rectified immediately, or if that is impossible, appropriate steps must be taken to safeguard the health and well-being of the animals pending the rectification of such defects including the use of alternative methods of feeding and watering and methods of providing and maintaining a satisfactory environment.

On artificial ventilation systems, Schedule 1, paragraph 20 states that:

Where the health and well-being of animals is dependent on an artificial ventilation system:

(a) provision must be made for an appropriate back-up system to guarantee sufficient air renewal to preserve the health and well-being of the animals in the event of the failure of the system; and

(b) an alarm system (which will operate even if the principal electricity supply to it has failed) must be provided to give warning of any failure of the system.

Schedule 1, paragraph 21 states that:

The back-up system referred to in paragraph 20(a) must be thoroughly inspected, and the alarm system referred to in paragraph 20(b) tested, in each case not less than, once every 7 days in order to check that there is no defect in it, and, if any defect is found in such system or alarm (whether or not on it being inspected or tested in accordance with this paragraph), it must be rectified forthwith.

64 Prior to installing more complex or elaborate equipment than previously used, consideration should be given to the question of animal welfare. In general the greater the restriction imposed on the bird and the greater the complexity of the system or degree of control which is exercised over temperature, air flow or food supply, the less the bird is able to use its instinctive behaviour to modify the effect of unfavourable conditions and the greater the chance of suffering if mechanical or electrical failures occur. Thus systems involving a high degree of control over the environment should only be installed where conscientious staff skilled in both poultry husbandry and the use of the equipment will always be available.

65 All equipment and services including feed hoppers, drinkers, ventilating fans, heating and lighting units, fire extinguishers and alarm systems should be cleaned and inspected regularly and kept in good working order. All automated equipment, upon which the birds' welfare is dependent, must incorporate a fail-safe device and/or standby device and an alarm system to warn the flock-keeper of failure. Defects should be rectified immediately or other measures taken to safeguard the health and welfare of the birds. Alternative ways of feeding and of maintaining a satisfactory environment should therefore be ready for use.

66 All electrical installations at mains voltage should be inaccessible to the birds and properly earthed.

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