Laying hens

The following measures have been identified by AssureWel as being important indicators of laying hen welfare. The criteria to select these 'core' measures included consideration as to how practical they are to assess on-farm.

  1. Feather loss
  2. Bird dirtiness
  3. Beak trimming
  4. Antagonistic behaviours
  5. Flightiness
  6. Birds needing further care
  7. Mortality

Download the assessment protocol and scoresheet 

How to use the outcome assessment: The protocol can be used to assess the level of welfare achieved for an individual animal, farming system or farm assurance scheme. 

farmers Inspector and Farmer
  • Producers - regular self-assessment of flocks can help monitor welfare and provide early indicators to identify problems. For more information and support on self-assessment see our Advisory Support pages or contact the AssureWel Animal Welfare Advisors.
  • Farm assurance schemes, companies, producer groups and vets - formal assessment together with feedback and benchmarking can help to improve scheme assessment, farm management and general levels of hen welfare. For more information and support contact the AssureWel Animal Welfare Advisors.

Which systems can be assessed? The measures have been developed for non-cage systems only - organic, free-range and barn.

How long does it take? The assessment takes around 10 to 15 minutes per farm for the sample sizes suggested so can easily be fitted into a normal flock inspection.

How many birds are assessed? Some measures require an examination of the flock. For other measures a small sample of 50 birds needs to be assessed. However assessing a larger number of birds will increase the confidence of the sample and be more representative of the whole flock.

Who can carry out an assessment? Anyone with relevant livestock experience can use the protocol. Training is required to ensure reliable and accurate results. Training is available through the AssureWel project, to find out more contact the AssureWel Animal Welfare Advisors.

How to improve performance:

  • New! Use our AssureWel Benchmarking Tool to compare your feather loss against the rest of the non-caged industry*.
  • Use the measures to monitor changes.
  • Read our welfare guides on good practice and improving performance on particular outcome measures.
  • Freedom Food and Soil Association members can contact the AssureWel Animal Welfare Advisers for one-to-one advice: animalwelfareadvisor@assurewel.org
  • Find out about welfare outcome events and meetings near you.
  • Support and training for producer groups, field staff, vets and companies is also available through the AssureWel project, to find out more contact the AssureWel Animal Welfare Advisors.

* Compares your scores to those collected during farm assessment visits on Freedom Food and Soil Association farms

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AssureWel is a collaborative project led by:

Soil AssociationRSPCAUniversity of Bristol

 
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