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Welfare of broilers and laying hens on farm

Infographic on welfare of broilers and laying hens on farm

To improve the welfare of farmed broiler chickens and laying hens, EFSA’s scientists recommend avoiding the practice of mutilation, feed restriction and the use of cages. Two scientific opinions include advice on space, density of animals, lighting, dust, noise, litter and structures such as elevated platforms. They provide a scientific basis to support the ongoing revision of the European Union’s animal welfare legislation.

Who is who?

Day-old chick

Will become a broiler chicken or laying hen depending on its genetics.

Laying hen

Chicken that lays eggs for human consumption.


Chicken raised and reared for chicken meat production.

How can their welfare be improved?

  • Cages: avoid the use of cages.
  • Stocking density: reduce the stocking density to give birds enough space to perform behaviours.
  • Elevated platforms: allow all birds simultaneous resting and the ability to escape from each other.
  • Covered veranda: supports exploration, foraging and dustbathing.
  • Friable litter and enrichment: supports comfort, foraging and exploratory behaviour.
  • Avoid mutilations: mutilations cause pain, and alternatives are available.

What is a dark brooder?

A dark brooder is a functional area that mimics some aspects of a mother hen by providing a warm, dark, and protected environment. It improves resting and reduces fearfulness.

Good animal welfare practices not only promote intrinsic animal wellbeing but also help make animals healthier. This is a key element for the safety of the food chain, considering the close links between animal welfare, animal health and foodborne diseases, in line with the principles of One Health.

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