Welfare of laying hens: code of practice

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

Disease treatment

Schedule 1, paragraph 5 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. No. 388), states that any animals which appear to be ill or injured:

  • must be cared for appropriately without delay; and where they do not respond to such care, veterinary advice must be obtained as soon as reasonably practicable

Schedule 1, paragraph 6 states that:

Where necessary, sick or injured animals must be isolated in suitable accommodation with, where appropriate, dry comfortable bedding.

Regulation 4 of the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 (S.1. 1995 No. 731) requires that slaughter or killing is carried out in a way that does not cause the bird any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering and by staff who have the necessary knowledge and skill to perform the task humanely and efficiently.

N.B. These Regulations will be repealed when Council Regulation (EC) No. 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing comes into effect on 1 January 2013.

Paragraph 5 of Schedule 3 of The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010 (S.S.I. 2010 No. 388) states that:

Those parts of buildings, equipment or utensils which are in contact with the hens must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected regularly and, in any case, every time depopulation is carried out and before a new batch of hens is brought in. While cages are occupied, the surfaces and all equipment must be kept satisfactorily clean; droppings must be removed as often as necessary and dead hens must be removed every day.

16 A health and welfare programme should be implemented for each unit, which sets out health and husbandry activities. It should also establish management procedures and control measures to reduce the risk of infections and injury. The health and welfare programme should be developed with appropriate veterinary advice, reviewed against performance and updated accordingly.

17 If the poultry are apparently not in good health, or if they are showing obvious signs of behavioural alterations, the flock-keeper must take appropriate action without delay to establish the cause. If the immediate remedial action taken by the flock-keeper is not effective a veterinarian must be consulted and, if necessary, expert advice must be sought on other technical factors involved. Where there are signs of recurring injuries, which may be related to the environment, these must be investigated and rectified, as soon as possible to prevent any further damage to the birds.

18 Injured, sick or distressed birds must be treated without delay and if necessary separated from the rest of the flock in suitable accommodation available for this purpose, or killed in accordance with the legislation. Dead birds must be removed promptly.


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