The welfare of all farmed animals is protected by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. The Act also contains a Duty of Care to animals—this means that anyone responsible for an animal must take reasonable steps to make sure the animal's needs are met. The Act is backed up by detailed regulations for farmed animals and species-specific welfare codes.
Animal Health carries out welfare inspections on farms to check that legislation and the welfare codes are being followed. In addition to spot checks and planned visits, Animal Health follows up all complaints and allegations of poor welfare on specific farms as a matter of urgency. In 2008, Animal Health carried out a total of 10,159 animal welfare inspections on farms.