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Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000

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Regulation 4

SCHEDULE 2Additional conditions under which laying hens kept in battery cages must be kept

1.  All cages shall comply with the following requirements—

(a)the cage area, measured in a horizontal plane, for each laying hen shall be not less than—

(i)1000 cm2 where one hen is kept in the cage;

(ii)750 cm2 where two hens are kept in the cage;

(iii)550 cm2 where three hens are kept in the cage, and

(iv)450 cm2 where four or more hens are kept in the cage;

(b)the minimum cage area for each laying hen shall be capable of being used without restriction and may include the area where the non-waste deflection plate (otherwise known as the egg guard) is placed so long as that area is capable of being so used;

(c)a feed trough of a length not less than 10 cm multiplied by the number of hens in the cage and capable of being used without restriction shall be provided;

(d)except where nipple drinkers and drinking cups are provided, the cage shall have a continuous drinking channel which shall be—

(i)not less than 10 cm multiplied by the number of hens in the cage; and

(ii)capable of being used without restriction;

(e)where drinking points are plumbed in, there shall be a minimum of two nipple drinkers or two drinking cups within reach of the cage;

(f)the height of the cage, for 65% of its area, shall be not less than 40 cm, and, for the remainder of the area, shall be not less than 35 cm (the height being obtained by a vertical line from the floor to the nearest point in the roof and the area being obtained by multiplying 450 cm2 by the number of hens kept in the cage);

(g)the floor of the cage shall be constructed so as to support adequately each of the forward facing claws of each foot; and

(h)the slope of the floor shall not exceed 14% or 8 degrees, when made of rectangular wire mesh, and 21.3% or 12 degrees for other types of floor.

2.  Battery cages shall be designed, constructed and maintained in such a way as to prevent any injury or unnecessary suffering to laying hens to the extent possible in the existing state of technology.

3.  The design and size of the cage opening must be such that laying hens can be put in or taken out without causing injury or unnecessary suffering.

4.  The cages must be suitably equipped and maintained to prevent a hen escaping.

5.  Except where therapeutic or prophylactic treatment demands otherwise, all laying hens shall have access to adequate, nutritious and hygienic feed each day in sufficient quantity to maintain them in good health and to satisfy their nutritional needs, and to adequate fresh drinking water at all times.

6.  The laying hens shall be cared for by personnel with adequate knowledge and experience of the production system used.

7.  The flock or group of laying hens shall be inspected thoroughly at least once a day and a source of light (whether fixed or portable) shall be available which is strong enough for each bird to be seen clearly.

8.  Accommodation comprising more than three tiers of cages shall not be used unless suitable devices or measures make it possible to inspect thoroughly all tiers without difficulty.

9.  (1)  When laying hens do not appear to be in good health or show behavioural changes, steps shall be taken to establish the cause and appropriate remedial action shall be taken.

(2) Where remedial action is required to be taken under sub-paragraph (1) above, consideration shall be given to the following types of action—

(a)treatment;

(b)isolation;

(c)culling;

(d)correction of environmental factors; and

(e)any other form of remedial action which might be necessary.

(3) If the cause of the health or behavioural problems referred to in sub-paragraph (1) above is traced to an environmental factor in the production unit which it is not essential to remedy immediately, remedial action shall be taken as soon as practicable and in any event when the accommodation is next emptied and before the next batch of laying hens is put in.

10.  (1)  Every time all the cages housed together are emptied they shall be thoroughly cleansed and disinfected before the next batch of laying hens is put in.

(2) While the cages are occupied, the surfaces and all equipment shall be kept satisfactorily clean.

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