Welfare: Duty of Care


Welfare: duty of care

The Five Welfare Needs:
1. Environment — a suitable place to live
2. Diet — the right food in the right amounts
3. Behaviour — being able to behave normally
4. Company — for animals that need to live together
5. Health — protecting your pet from pain, suffering, injury and disease

Before you decide to buy your chickens, you must first consider whether you can meet their five welfare needs.

A flock of free-range chickens

Environment: Chicken housing is used by the birds for roosting, laying, and shelter. Movable pens are good as the birds get fresh ground regularly. Ventilation is important but needs to be high up as chickens will not thrive in draughts.

Diet: the balanced commercial chicken feed is easy to obtain and should be stored dry. Wild birds should be discouraged from accessing chicken feeders, ad lib feeding is common as chickens are good at regulating the amount of feed or grit they need.

Behaviour: the pecking order is very important to maintain the stability of a flock and only changes if hens are added or removed. Chickens love to scratch with their feet to find insects, even tiny chicks will do this. The flock keeps watch for potential aerial predators and has a special call to alert their friends.

Company: chickens can be kept as just two hens but are are happy with more company as long as the flock members do not change. They will boss newcomers for example.

Health: it is your responsibility to maintain the health of your birds by providing those items above, plus keeping stress low and using the licensed wormer at least twice a year to avoid build-up of internal parasites. This makes the birds stronger and more able to combat pathogens (harmful organisms).