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Launch of Booklet on Code of Practice for The Welfare of Laying Hens

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has launched a guideline Booklet produced by the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council (FAWAC) entitled "Code of Practice for the Welfare of Laying Hens".

The Booklet aims to encourage all those who care for laying hens to adopt the highest standards when dealing with hens and provides practical guidance in respect of the management and husbandry of laying hens.  The Minister said that "the guidelines outlined underpin the welfare of laying hens and will assist flock-keepers in managing their enterprises responsibly and maintain high-quality standards thereby helping to maintain Ireland's high standard of animal welfare".  Minister Coveney thanked the Chairman of FAWAC, Professor Patrick Fottrell and Council members, particularly the members of the Education Sub-committee which include representatives from the IFA, ISPCA, Veterinary Ireland together with Department officials, for their work in producing the Booklet. The Booklet follows in a series of similar publications relating to the welfare of other animal species.

The Booklet incorporates new rules on welfare standards for laying hens that are due to come into force in 2012.  The Minister went on to say that "my Department is committed to working with poultry producers and industry to ensure that the new regulations prohibiting the keeping of laying hens in conventional (unenriched) cages from 1 January 2012 are complied with in full. In order to facilitate compliance with the new welfare standards, the Minister said that he recently announced the re-opening of the Poultry Welfare Scheme worth a total of €16 million”.

Minister Coveney, mindful of the increasing awareness of animal welfare issues and the public's desire for high animal welfare standards, reiterated the commitment in the 2011 Programme for Government to amend and strengthen legislation on animal cruelty and animal welfare.

The Minister said "I am proposing to publish an Animal Health and Welfare Bill later this year to give effect to this commitment and to build on ongoing legislative drafting in this area which includes the consolidation of a wide range of existing animal health and welfare legislation as well as replacing and repealing a long list of outdated legislation".

The Minister expressed his appreciation for the ongoing and valuable work being done by FAWAC, for the advice it provides in the area of animal welfare and wished it well in its future endeavours.

Note for Editors:

The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Laying Hens Booklet is available on the FAWAC website at or from the FAWAC Secretariat- email:

The Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council (FAWAC) was established in February 2002 and provides advice on request to the Minister and the Department relevant to the welfare of farm animals. The Council includes representatives from a wide range of organisations with an interest in animals, including farming and animal welfare organisations, Teagasc and UCD.

FAWAC is chaired by Professor Patrick Fottrell.

With effect from 1 January 2012, the keeping of laying hens in any conventional (unenriched) cage will be prohibited as laid down by Council Directive No. 1999/74/EC and national implementing legislation, namely the European Communities (Welfare of Farmed Animals) Regulations 2010 (SI 311 of 2010).


Date Released: 22 September 2011