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What are the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standards for layer hens?

Article ID: 95
Last updated: 22 Sep, 2016
Revision: 7
Views: 13439

The RSPCA developed standards for egg producers that ensure a high level of welfare for layer hens. Egg producers can apply to participate in the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme and this will be granted if the farming system meets the RSPCA’s standards. Egg cartons containing RSPCA-Approved eggs are labelled with the RSPCA Approved Farming logo so that consumers can be assured that the hens are kept according to the RSPCA’s high animal welfare standards.

The Scheme is run on a not-for-profit model with all fees being used to manage and promote the Scheme including the costs of regular on-farm assessments.

The RSPCA Approves both barn and free-range housing systems. These types of systems, unlike battery cages, give hens the opportunity to express their full range of behaviours.

Some of the requirements in the RSPCA standards for layer hens are:

  • Battery cages are not allowed.
  • The hens must have:
    • clean, dry litter to use for dust bathing and foraging
    • space to flap their wings, fly, stretch, socialise and avoid aggressive birds
    • nests for egg laying
    • adequate perch space
    • environmental enrichment to enhance the environment and provide them with objects to peck
    • constant access to water and nutritious food
    • protection from predators and the elements
    • clean air, free from high levels of ammonia and with minimal dust levels
    • appropriate lighting levels.
  • A maximum stocking density (that is, a maximum number of birds per square metre of floor space) is set to avoid overcrowding.
  • Beak trimming is allowed if it is necessary to avoid feather pecking or cannibalism in the flock, but it must be carried out under specified conditions.
  • Stock workers must be well-trained and alert to problems.
  • Careful records must be kept of management conditions and any health problems, and these records must be made available to the RSPCA.
  • Farms must allow regular inspections (at least every 6 months) by RSPCA farm assessors to ensure that the standards are being adhered to.

To learn more about the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme or to download the standards visit our website.


This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person's unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
Also read
document What is the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme?
document Where can I buy RSPCA Approved chicken, eggs, pork and turkey?
document Why does the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme allow for beak trimming of hens?
document What is the RSPCA's position on battery cages?
document Labelling of animal welfare-friendly food products
document What are the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standards for meat chickens?
document What are the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme standards for turkeys?
document What are barn-laid eggs?
document How much space does a free-range layer hen need?
document How can free-range layer hens be encouraged to use the range area?
document Do layer hens suffer from bone problems?
document How can feather pecking be managed in cage-free layer hen systems?
document Are stress levels of hens in battery cages the same as those of hens in cage-free egg production systems?
document What is the RSPCA doing to get hens out of battery cages?
document What is beak trimming?
document Can layer hen mortality, pests, parasites, disease and predation be managed in non-cage systems?
document Why is it important for layer hens to express normal behaviours?

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