Welfare of laying hens: code of practice

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


Inspection

Schedule 1, paragraph 2 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) requires that:

  • animals kept in husbandry systems in which their welfare depends on frequent human attention must be adequately inspected at least once a day to check that they are in a state of well-being; and
  • animals kept in systems other than husbandry systems in which their welfare depends on frequent human attention must be inspected at intervals sufficient to avoid any suffering

Schedule 1, paragraph 3 states that:

Where animals are kept in a building, adequate lighting (whether fixed or portable) must be available to enable them to be adequately inspected at any time.

Schedule 3, paragraph 2 of The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) states that:

All hens must be inspected by the person responsible for the hens at least once a day.

Schedule 3, paragraph 7 of The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) states that:

Accommodation comprising 2 or more tiers of cages must have devices, or appropriate measures must be taken, to allow inspection of all tiers and removal of hens without difficulty.

12 A thorough inspection should take place at least once a day. Such inspections should be made independently of any automatic surveillance equipment. This inspection should be sufficiently thorough to detect illness and injury of individual hens, and special attention should be paid to bodily condition, movements, respiratory distress, condition of plumage, eyes, skin, beak, legs, feet and claws, and where appropriate, combs and wattles. Attention should also be paid to the presence of external parasites, to the condition of droppings, to feed and water consumption , to growth and to egg production level. Where appropriate the birds should be encouraged to walk. Individual examination should be made of those birds for which the overall inspection indicates this to be necessary. A second daily inspection is recommended at a different time of the day.

13 The healthy individual bird should have sounds and activity appropriate to its age, breed or type, clear bright eyes, good posture, vigorous movements if unduly disturbed, clean healthy skin, good feather condition, well formed shanks and feet, effective walking and active feeding and drinking behaviour.

14 The early signs of ill health may include changes in food and water intake, in preening, in 'chatter' and in activity. There may also be a drop in egg production and changes in egg quality such as shell defects.

15 Housing and equipment must be designed so that all the birds can be clearly seen. Supplementary lighting may be needed for the inspection of birds in the bottom tier of cage systems.

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