ARCHIVE: Welfare of meat chickens: New rules from June 2010

Implementation of EU Council Directive (2007/43/EC) laying down minimum rules for the protection of chickens kept for meat production (broilers)

On the 30th June 2010 new rules for the keeping of meat chickens came into force across all Member States. 

New Regulations to implement Council Directive 2007/43/EC on meat chicken welfare came into force on 5 November in Scotland, on 10 November in Wales and on 23 December 2010 in England.

The Directive sets a maximum stocking density and defines minimum management and training requirements. The Directive can be accessed here Council Directive 2007/43

The legislation sets a maximum stocking density of 39kg/m2 in Great Britain. All previous legislation will continue to operate. The code of recommendations for the welfare of meat chickens is currently being reviewed.

Scope of the Directive

The Directive applies to conventionally reared meat chickens unless they are on a holding with fewer than 500 birds. The Directive does not apply to breeding chickens, free-range (if marketed as such), organic chickens (if marketed as such), extensive indoor (if marketed as such) or those who keep fewer than 500 birds.

Information on Certain Marketing Standards for Poultry meat relating to the EC Council Regulation 1906/90 (PDF) and Commission Regulation 1538/91 (PDF) is available.

The new EU welfare provisions demonstrate best practice and science which could be applied to all systems of meat chicken production and therefore all keepers of meat chickens, regardless of system of production, are encouraged to read the information on these webpages.

What is different about this Directive compared with current legislation?

This is the first time that meat chicken welfare has been regulated in specific EU legislation. Previously, the welfare of meat chickens was underpinned by general welfare legislation and Council of Europe recommendations for domestic fowls.

The EU Directive requires the assessment of the welfare of the meat chickens on farm and also at the slaughterhouse. Concerns about poor welfare at the slaughterhouse will be fed back to Animal Health (or the Veterinary Service in Northern Ireland) and the producer and if necessary appropriate action will be taken such as creating an Action Plan.

These webpages will be updated to provide information on what the Directive means to those who rear chickens in England and as an information hub for all those interested in the new requirements. Detailed information on the implementation of the EU Directive can be found at the links below:

If you need more information on how the Directive will work in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland contact the Devolved Administrations at:

Page last modified: 19 January, 2011
Page published: 15 February 2010