Chicken welfare proposals take another step forward
Published:  10 January, 2018

The government has updated its draft code for the welfare of broiler chickens following a consultation on the issue.

The new statutory code, proposed by the government in August, aims to provide up-to-date guidance on the current legislation, maintain animal welfare standards, reflect the latest scientific and veterinary knowledge and be presented in a clear and relevant way for farmers.

There was a concern that the current code for meat chickens and breeding chickens has not been updated since 2002 and that it does not reflect additional rules relating to the welfare of conventionally reared meat chickens, which came into force in 2010.

The consultation received 13 responses, with submissions coming from animal welfare organisations, the livestock sector, the veterinary profession, charities, training providers and members of the public.

The overriding concern from respondents was the ongoing welfare of the birds, which the government has included in its updated proposals. It has recommended that welfare outcomes be used to assess and monitor the ongoing welfare of the birds as part of the farm health and welfare plan, as well as further stressing the importance of seeking veterinary advice.

This replacement code of practice will be laid before Parliament for 40 days before it can come into force, while the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has pledged to work closely with “key stakeholders”, including the British Poultry Council and the National Farmers’ Union, to ensure keepers are fully aware of the updated code.