Defra has updated its animal welfare guidance for meat chicken producers.

The revised Code of Practice for the Welfare of Meat Chickens and Meat Breeding Chickens reflects new regulations that have come into force since the publication of the previous code. These include specific provisions on staff training, stocking density, and follow-up at slaughterhouses.

More detailed guidance on biosecurity, leg health and enriching the environment for chickens is also included.

The move is part of a programme of government reforms to safeguard and enhance the welfare of animals.

“We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and are going further in a number of areas, including by raising maximum sentences for animal cruelty to five years and introducing mandatory CCTV in abattoirs,” said Lord Gardiner, minister for animal welfare.

“This code was carefully consulted on with industry experts, and uses the most recent scientific and veterinary advice to ensure this clear guidance provides the best advice to owners and keepers to help ensure and enhance the high welfare standards of their animals.”

Máire Burnett, technical director at the British Poultry Council, added: “We welcome the new statutory code of practice for welfare of meat chickens and meat breeding chickens that reflects the high welfare standards followed by British poultry meat farmers, breeders and veterinarians. The new code is intended to help all those who care for meat chickens and meat breeding chickens to practise good biosecurity and maintain welfare standards required to comply with legislation.”