Welfare of meat chickens and meat breeding chickens: guidance

Detailed information about the needs of meat chickens and meat breeding chickens and how to meet these needs in accordance with good practice.


6. For the purposes of this guidance document definitions 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.

‘breeding chicken’ means an animal of the species Gallus gallus whose progeny are either parent stock or meat chickens;

‘conventionally reared meat chickens’ (*) means an animal of the species Gallus gallus that is kept for meat production, other than one:

(a) that is on a holding with fewer than 500 such animals or with only breeding stocks of such animals;

(b) that is on a hatchery;

(c) in relation to which the term “Extensive indoor (barn reared)”, “Free range”, “Traditional free range” or “Free range – total freedom” can be used within the meaning of point (b), (c), (d) or (e) of Annex V to Commission Regulation (EC) No. 543/2008 which sets out detailed rules as regards the marketing standards for poultry meat for the application of the Single CMO Regulation (EU) 1308/2013; or

(d) that is organically reared in accordance with the relevant EU organic regulations - Council Regulation (EC) 834/2007 and Commission Regulation (EC) 889/2008.

‘cumulative daily mortality rate’ (*) means the sum of daily mortality rates;

‘daily mortality rate’ (*) means the number of chickens which have died in a house on the same day including those that have been culled either because of disease or because of other reasons, divided by the number of chickens present in the house on that day, multiplied by 100;

‘flock’ means a group of chickens which are placed in a house or a holding and are present in this house at the same time;

‘grandparent stock’ means an animal of the species Gallus gallus whose progeny are parent stock;

‘holding’ (*) means a production site on which chickens are kept;

‘house’ (*) means a building on a holding where a flock of chickens is kept;

‘injurious pecking’ is redirected foraging behaviour to the feathers and skin of other birds and encompasses feather pecking, vent pecking and cannibalism;

‘keeper’ (*) means any person responsible for or in charge of chickens in terms of contract or by law whether on a permanent or temporary basis;

‘laparoscopy’ is the examination of the abdominal cavity by insertion of an instrument called a laparoscope. 

‘meat chicken’ means an animal of the species Gallus gallus kept for meat production; 

‘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;

‘owner’ means any natural or legal person or persons owning the chickens;

‘parent stock’ means an animal of the species Gallus gallus whose progeny are meat chickens; 

‘stocking density’ (*) means the total live weight of chickens which are present in a house at the same time per square metre of useable area;

‘total mortality rate’ is the total number of birds that died or were culled during a flock’s whole rearing period, divided by the original number of birds placed on the first day, multiplied by 100;

‘usable area’ (*) means, in relation to conventionally reared meat chickens, a littered area accessible to the chickens at any time.


Email: Kirsten.Foubister@gov.scot

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