Welfare of laying hens and pullets: guidance

Guidance about the needs of laying hens and pullets and how to meet these needs in accordance with good practice.


10. For the purposes of this Guidance, definitions of terms used in this Guidance are summarised below. Some of these (marked with an asterisk*) are taken directly from the relevant legislation, whilst others are included to provide an explanation for the purposes of the Guidance.

'aggressive pecking' is pecking directed towards the head and neck of another bird, and includes fighting, chasing and vocalisation. (Compare with 'injurious pecking', below);

'biosecurity' means a set of management actions and physical measures designed to reduce the risk of introduction, establishment and spread of disease to, from, and within the flock and, where relevant, between different flocks on site;

'flock' means a group of hens which are placed in a house of a holding and are present in this house at the same time;

'holding' means a production site on which laying hens are kept;

'house' means a building on a holding where a laying hen flock is kept;

'injurious pecking' is redirected foraging behaviour directed at the feathers and skin of other birds and encompasses feather pecking, vent pecking and cannibalism. (Compare with 'aggressive pecking', above);

'keeper' means any person responsible for or in charge of laying hens whether on a permanent or temporary basis;

'laying hen' (*) means a hen of the species Gallus gallus which has reached laying maturity and is kept for the production of eggs not intended for hatching;

'litter' (*) means, in relation to laying hens, any friable material provided in their accommodation enabling the hens to satisfy their ethological needs;

'mutilation' is a procedure which involves interference with the sensitive tissues or bone structure of an animal, otherwise than for the purpose of its medical treatment;

'nest' (*) means a separate space for egg laying, the floor component of which may not include wire mesh that can come into contact with the birds, for an individual hen or for a group of hens;

'owner' means any natural or legal person or persons owning animals;

'pullet' is used to describe birds during their rearing period and at transfer to the laying house when no eggs have been laid by the flock. As soon as the first egg has been laid in the flock it becomes a laying hen flock;

'red mites' are ectoparasites (up to 0.7mm diameter and grey or red in colour) that feed on the blood of birds;

'usable area' (*) means an area, other than a nesting area, used by laying hens which is at least 30cm wide with a floor slope not exceeding 14% and with headroom of at least 45cm.


Email: Animal.Health@gov.scot

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