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Poultry: Animal Welfare

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure egg production complies with animal welfare requirements. (150072)

[holding answer 17 July 2007]: There is specific legislation in place to fulfil EU obligations to ensure the welfare of laying hens kept for egg production. In addition there is a DEFRA welfare code providing detailed guidance specifically on laying hens.

Animal Health (formerly the State Veterinary Service), enforces this animal welfare legislation and conducts a regular programme of inspections on farms to check the welfare of poultry. The Egg Marketing Inspectorate (now part of Animal Health) also takes note of any welfare concerns during its inspection of premises in respect of Egg Marketing Regulations.

Animal Health investigates all complaints and allegations about poor welfare on-farm and takes appropriate action, which may include a recommendation to prosecute. The Government give priority to such complaints and allegations from, for example, private veterinary surgeons, welfare organisations and members of the public. We do not hesitate to take action against anyone failing to comply with the law.