Poultry: Animal Welfare

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 26th March 2019.

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Photo of Mark Hendrick Mark Hendrick Labour/Co-operative, Preston

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to (a) maintain and (b) increase animal welfare standards in battery hen farms.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

The use of conventional (“battery”) cages for laying hens has been banned in the UK since 2012. Laying hens are kept in either enriched colonies, free range, barn or organic systems. Enriched colonies provide more space for the birds to move around and are legally required to provide nest boxes, litter, perches, and claw shortening devices which allow the birds to carry out a greater range of natural behaviours.

The new statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Laying Hens and Pullets provides improved and up-to-date guidance for owners and keepers on how to comply with the legislation and help maintain high animal welfare standards.

We intend to continue being a world leader in animal welfare after we leave the EU by maintaining and strengthening our already world-class welfare standards. As part of our move to higher regulatory standards we intend to develop publicly-funded schemes for farmers to deliver animal welfare enhancements beyond our high regulatory baseline that are valued by the public.

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